For the past five or so years, I have been a judge for the New Hampshire Young Inventors Program. Each spring, K-8 students who win local school competitions move on to this competition that supports innovative young people throughout our state. This year, I am honored to be sponsoring my first specialty award, the Library & Information Services Award. Sponsored by ArchivesInfo, this award recognizes an invention that can support the day to day work of libraries. Inventions in this category could include items such as a new type of bookshelf, a computer database, or a stand for holding your e-reader while you ride a stationary bike. My intention in sponsoring the award is to support this valuable program and the kids who take part. I also wish to raise awareness about what libraries can do for people's lives and to encourage young people to think about ways to make libraries stronger and more impactful.
As libraries expand services, re-invent themselves, or just renovate their marketing to attract a 21st century audience, they must make their innovation prominent. Libraries serve as places supporting discovery, learning, curiosity, and invention. Conversations about our role in building makerspaces, encouraging cutting edge technology, teaching sound information seeking practices and more need to filter out of our inner circles and move beyond the field of library and information science. Librarians must show how our institutions support multiple disciplines and are capable of engaging in conversations ranging from the arts to mathematics, science and history.
Inviting students to think about how they themselves can make libraries more helpful places can play an important role in continuing and promoting the relevance of our profession. I am hopeful that by offering an award for library related inventions, I can encourage young students to consider new possibilities. I look forward to seeing children's creations for progressive libraries and better information services.