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The Library Innovation Toolkit: Ideas, Strategies, and Programs.

The Library Innovation Toolkit: Ideas, Strategies, and Programs

Anthony Molaro and Leah L. White, editors. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2015. 216 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-8389-1274-4. $57.

As many libraries reorganize, enter new frontiers of librarianship, and adapt services to rapidly changing needs, they seek guidance on how to proactively embrace change. The Library Innovation Toolkit is a great place to start because it is full of the essentials for innovation: bright ideas and strong will. It allows readers a chance to look at the experiments of others and encourages library professionals to try them at home.

The book is a compilation of essays by information professionals from across the United States and Canada. The essays are categorized into blocks such as Innovative Culture, Innovative Technology and Innovative Outreach. Although this essay collection is fairly short and quick-paced, it is suggested that readers take their time to reflect and mull over the fresh ideas as they go through each section.

As the subtitle suggests, the book gives ideas, strategies, and programs from many different angles. There is insight into emerging practices from unexpected topics, which is refreshing for those looking to innovate but not necessarily tech-savvy or able to readily implement new technology. As Begart and D'Elia state in their essay, Innovation Bootcamp, "Libraries do not need to hire creative geniuses, nor do they need to develop new and shiny products and services to remain relevant ... An open mind, an unquenchable curiosity, and empathy for our users are really at the heart of the matter in order for libraries to be more adaptive, nimble and transformative" (p. 57). Another example, Get On Board with Community Needs, is an essay about story time on ferry transportation and contains a really innovative strategy for a very traditional service. Because The Library Innovation Toolkit is written by and for library staff, its approaches are directly applicable. It is rare when a book directly speaks to libraries but could easily be applied to other workplaces or services, too.

The only downfall of the book is that it begins by emphasizing how necessary innovation is to the success of libraries and their users but then introduces readers to Zen and the Art of Innovation as the first essay, painting innovation as a lofty ideal instead of framing it as survival of the fittest. While Zen Buddhism easily applies to exercising innovative thinking and practice, it would have been better placed elsewhere. Most likely, it was intended to ease reluctant librarians into getting in touch with their inner innovator, but mostly it assumes the reader already wants to innovate rather than persuades them of its practical benefits. The rest of the book appeals to the practical nature of librarianship and more effectively communicates that innovation is for everyone.

Although many of the ideas are not new even to libraries, it is refreshing and inspiring to see them successfully put into action. Those in technology specializations may not find the ideas innovative compared to industry standards but may learn ways to better plan, implement, and market new services. In technology, it is often easy to have new ideas or services deflated due to budgeting or poor strategy when the focus is on the implementation.

Retailing at $57.00, the price of this short book is a bit steep for the home bookshelf but would be great for a library school collection or a professional reading collection shared among staff or administrators. There is truly something to be gained from The Library Innovation Toolkit by any library department or employee as long as one has an open mind.

Review by Camille Thomas

Scholarly Communications Librarian

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX
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Author:Thomas, Camille
Publication:Journal of Library Innovation
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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