Where has imagination gone?

Is librarianship a profession that nurtures creativity? Lately I am not so sure. Reaction to the recent do-it-yourself project released about modifying a talking teddy bear to speak your RSS feed of your tweets as well as your friends brings something to mind.

Why just condemn it and move on? This actually present a unique opportunity. For example, purchasing a good Text-to-Speech voice from an outfit like Cepstral would allow you to cannibalize the software for that project to create a running audio stream reading an RSS feed you generate. If your OPAC supports generating RSS feeds of data like new books or newly returned books, you have a unique data set to play with. You could use an audio feed of such to give airport-like announcements of new books on their way in to the library. You could use that as your "hold music". While you might need a programmer on-hand to smooth over the rough edges in the software, this is an easy way to be creative.

One big thing about our profession is that we do not define creativity as the world around us does. That can be both good and bad. The way to handle the omnipresent relevance question is to take stock of two key things. The first is understanding what the minimum acceptable level of service is that your patrons expect. The second is being able to creatively work with what you have rather than what you don't have to either meet or beat those expectations.

Glitz and tech won't always get people in the door. There are people out in the world who don't know what a blog is or why Twitter should matter to them. There are people who cannot live without Twitter every moment of the day. For public libraries in particular, a key mission is to serve all sorts of demographic groups who make up the "public" you serve. In other library types the pressure is not as significant but it remains.

As culture splinters into ever-smaller niches it becomes an issue in serving those niches. Libraries cannot necessarily be all things to all people. Getting to the point of being something to most people is a start from which you have to build off using creative talent held by library staff.

After all, the splintering into niches has yet to cease in the United States...

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