Innovation Week: Catalyzing Innovation

Toby Staff Image

As library workers, we like to talk about Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh as a space where new ideas are born. Every book, every program, every learning experience has the potential to spark someone’s imagination and create something new. We’re proud to be a platform for your creativity and efforts to keep learning.

But who says our patrons should have all the fun?

Within the library, I am always on the lookout for ways to encourage staff to try new things and take risks. One way in which we’ve done so is through an initiative called Innovation Grants. The Office of Digital Strategy uses a small portion of its budget to help fund small experiments in public service. Staff put together proposals, and I provide the guidance so that they can make their dream library project a reality. When it works, we find new ways to connect with our users, as we did last year with the Historic Lawrenceville: Stories From Our Neighbors project. Even when a project isn’t quite successful (such as when we tried to install iBeacons in the library), we’ve learned some valuable lessons that we can build on for future experiments.

group of people gather around a table looking at tablet
Visitors to the Historic Lawrenceville unveiling explore archival photos and listen to digitized stories from their neighbors.

 

Each year’s Innovation Grant application process is marked with a specific theme. This year’s theme is Delight. I want to drive home the fact that the library is a place of joy, and it’s my hope that some of these projects will add some pleasant surprises to the next time you visit.

Throughout the week, Eleventh Stack will highlight several of these projects. Whether you’re strapping on a virtual reality headset, taking a theremin for a test drive or getting up close and personal with handcrafted bookbinding materials, there’s something new for you here to enjoy. This spirit also exists in other projects, including our efforts to make data literacy engaging, creative and fun.

In our mission to engage the community in literacy and learning, we want to be sure that we’re walking the walk. Keep an eye on the blog all week for stories on how these experiments are coming to life.

-Toby

photo of a patron-submitted data postcard inspired by the book Dear Data

What’s Your Library Innovation?

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Toby Greenwalt is Director of Digital Strategy and Technology Integration at CLP. His work focuses on making library technology user-friendly, useful, and human for all library visitors.