At the LITA Technology Trends session, Joan Frye Williams spoke about a shift toward a “creative economy” that seems to be a response or reaction to the current economic crisis. The model for a creative economy is highly individualized, small-business, entrepreneurial, frequently home-based, hyper-local , not the type of activity that is easily toppled, centrally or moved off-shore. Her comments reminded me of the recent “Unlocking the Undergraduate Experience Task Force Report statements on Expanding Undergraduate Opportunities for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Studies.
It is a behavior of learning—a set of principles, a mindset—crossing all disciplines that can be broadly defined as a directed application of innovation, in short, the method by which ideas receive a concrete reality.
Williams asserts that libraries are well-equipped to support this kind of learning. They provide a high bandwidth, media-rich environment that could be conducive to the “messiness” of the creative endeavor. She suggests, however, that this would have major implications for the workflow of libraries and force us to re-conceptualize the business we think we are in and the services we provide. Williams cautions that libraries often consider information discovery and transport the end of the story. Supporting creativity and innovation would require us to provide “studio” like space designed for an iterative process of innovation, with all its messiness. She urges libraries to “stop being the grocery store and start being the kitchen.”