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Innovation Week: Now It’s Your Turn

Hopefully you’ve been enjoying Eleventh Stack’s Innovation Week, with posts focusing on new and upcoming services like virtual reality equipment, electronic instruments and physical/digital displays of some of the Library’s most interesting and beautiful old books.

When I’m working at the Customer Services desk, I hear a lot of people say they aren’t creative. They say things like, “I could never come up with something like that” when they come to a program on creative re-use or “I’m not crafty” if we have a display of books on knitting. Here’s the thing: They’re wrong.

We’re all creative. We’re all innovators. We might be out of practice or out of the habit of thinking outside the box, but we all have that capability. Hopefully some of these projects will excite and inspire you to create, learn and share new experiences with family members and friends, both inside and outside the Library.

And just in case we haven’t woken up your muse, here are a few titles on innovation and creativity that will be sure to light your creative fire.

Cover for Innovation: A Very Short Introduction

Innovation: A Very Short Introduction by Mark Dodgson and David Gann: The Very Short Introduction series of books present big, fancy, intimidating ideas in small, neat, approachable packages. They don’t cover everything, but if you don’t know anything about why innovation is important, this book is a good place to start. It covers the history of innovation and discusses how inventions like the internal combustion engine, the television and information technologies have revolutionized the way we life on a day-to-day basis. (Without information technologies, 99% of our blog posts would be pointless, because we wouldn’t be able to send you to the Library Catalog to request and check out books, movies and music!)

cover for Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention

Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow is the state of being where you’re so in tune with what you’re doing, you don’t notice time passing. You’re energized and engaged in your work. You’re in the zone, on target, productive. Csikszentmihalyi’s book is considered by some to be a landmark work in the study of creativity. Through interviews with people at the top of their fields, Csikszentmihalyi explores what flow is, the conditions necessary for getting there and staying there longer and the role of a supportive community in generating creators and innovators (hint hint, nudge nudge, come to the Library).

Cover for The Art of Innovation

The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley: This book is essentially a case study for how the company IDEO, which created the Apple mouse and the Polaroid I-Zone camera, fosters innovation and creative problem solving. Importantly, Kelley doesn’t only focus on the company’s success stories. He also shares its failures and the idea of “failing your way to success”—which basically means that in order to get to success, you’re going to encounter plenty of failure on the road, and that’s okay. It’s normal. Which leads me to the next book.

Cover for Fail Better

Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner by Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn: If someone takes the time to write an entire book about how failure is an essential step on the journey to success, you know it’s A Thing and not just some internet rumor started by a desperate blogger… ahem. What’s more, there are several books on the topic of “failing better.” This one, though, focuses on maximizing the usefulness of every failure to make the next version of the product, service or project you’re working on even better, even faster. Fail Better gives readers a framework for mucking through the messy creative process by teaching readers how to use data and self-reflection to their advantage. If you never start because you’re afraid you’ll fail, give this book a try. It will confirm your fears—you will likely fail—but show you that failure is just a stepping stone, not an ending.

Now that you’ve seen what we’re doing to inspire and delight you, our patrons, we want to know if we’ve succeeded in sparking your imaginations. Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on—or more accurately, near—the Theremini. Share your innovative ideas or how you plan to use these new, fun services in the comments below!


Take a creative risk

Fail More, Fail Better

Kelly is Eleventh Stack’s editor-in-chief. She also reads, writes and sometimes sews, always with a large mug of tea. Her position as the Clerical Specialist at CLP – West End gives her plenty of ideas for stories that find homes in obscure literary magazines.

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