Sunday, December 2, 2012

Creativity in the Library

I spent some time this week making paper snowflakes for my home and work space. They were not the kind to which we are all accustomed. Do you remember folding paper, carefully cutting intricate designs, and then opening up your paper to reveal a symmetrical and perfect flake? Rather, our design this week was something I had never seen and resulted in  a 3-dimensional snowflake design. New to me. Unique. Creative.

My library assistant set up a table where our volunteers could take 12 strips of different colored papers to weave together.  Our table attracted other students in the library. One teen even decided he wanted to make a basket out of the strips instead of a snowflake...This is what a library does. This is what we should strive for in life.

"This" is creativity. Blogger Reed Gillespie caught my eye last week when he posted "Creativity Matters and What We Can Do About It." His focus is on injecting opportunities to learn and create in schools. With a broader perspective, I want cultural heritage professionals (and if you are a regular reader, you know that I consider archivists, museum professionals, and librarians the glue that binds these professionals) to be a prime creative spark for society.

On the door of my office at school is a small poster that I made that says, "Libraries are in the curiosity business." I emphasize this to remind students and others that our community information center serves as a board for diving into life. A cultural heritage institution allows us to discover new things and explore -- whether it is considering the best colors and shapes to create arts and crafts or reading a book to stretch our imaginations.  My good colleagues at the Library as Incubator Project have masterfully shaped this message. Check out their pages for a little inspiration.

For my part, I am working on the following: hosting a rap battle with a holiday theme at the end of the month; setting up a pen pal project with kids in Africa; creating a day for a human library; working on finding an old time capsule and creating a new one; planning a 50th anniversary celebration with the development of a new archive...All the calm days in between the milestone activities are filled with more creative opportunities. We have puzzles and revolving book displays with different themes. We have chess games and Scrabble. We have Pinterest boards (Pathfinders) and tweets filled with new ideas.  We have a blog filled with information and "old-fashioned" handouts, in the form of brochures, with more. We are exploring the diary of a local woman that I picked up in an antique shop...

This is the role of the librarian in the new millenium.  My job is to help everyone discover something that interests them. Creativity in the library is alive and well. Cultural heritage professionals must be prepared to provide the spark to ignite each individual's creative fire.


  1. Using Pinterest to create pathfinders is very interesting! Could you share a link to one of them?

  2. Here's a link to the Pinterest site.

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