Yesterday was that “Do Libraries Innovate” session at ALA (which I’m hoping to see blogged elsewhere soon by a participant), so in the meantime here’s some additional evidence from Emory that they darn well do.
Update: And this morning there’s a nice summary of the session from the Hidden Peanuts blog and (two days later) the LITA blog version. While the debate doesn’t really sound all that “ultimate,” and the focus, unsurprisingly, was more on technological innovation rather than on other forms of innovation, interesting points were certainly made. The idea, though, that libraries have untapped potential to become bleeding-edge innovators ignores the fact that funding sources play a huge role in developing a risk-tolerant organizational culture. And the mindset of the taxpayer base for public libraries, for instance, has little in common with venture capitalists. Few taxpayers want “big risk/big reward” thinking in those who are spending their tax dollars, whereas venture capitalists take a very different view of investing. (The Tompkins County Public Library’s ill-fated installation of solar panels on the library roof and the ensuing public discussions as to the very limited energy savings produced come to mind as examples of what can happen when libraries actually do take these risks.)