Creativity and Collaboration

As part of this week’s module we were required to watch a video clip of Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about creativity in organizations.   In the video clip Robinson makes some interesting points about the application of imagination, namely that imagination must be applied before it can become creativity.  In other words, imagination that we do nothing with is useless.  He also discusses the importance of taking originality and value into account when developing a product.  What you put out there must be original and you should know in which context specific values should be applied and whether they are relevant.

Now, are these points applicable to librarians and are they important for collaboration? Absolutely.  Libraries are often large multi-faceted institutions.  They serve a multitude of different people, all of who have varying needs and interests.   Yet, in order to be good at our jobs, we (librarians) all need to specialize to some degree.  A child’s librarian in a public library should be dedicating most of his/her time to operating and enriching children’s services, meaning that s/he may not be tuned into the needs of adult ESL patrons. Similarly an academic librarian specializing in biology is unlikely to be extremely well versed in the needs of archeology students or developments in art history.   Yet, as organizations, libraries often have to merge the interests of their various patrons when developing new initiatives so that everyone benefits.  A creative idea from the children’s librarian may not work for the whole library, but with input from librarians in other departments it can very likely be modified into something that will.

Collaboration is equally important for assessing originality and value.  It’s very hard to decide for yourself whether an idea is original.  If you have never heard of it, but all of your colleagues have, this is probably a red flag .  Similarly, assessing the relevance or value of an idea is best accomplished through a collaborative effort.  What seems relevant to one librarian may not hold the same value to a colleague in a different field.  Only through collaborating can a diverse group of librarians find a middle ground so that the finished product is most valuable to all the library patrons.

So to sum up I think Robinson is really onto something.  During these times when many library budgets are being cut and branches shut down I don’t think we can afford to be off in our own little corners.  We should be combining the limited resources and (wo)manpower that we have to create the best possible product.

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