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Incubating creativity at your library

CHICAGO — Creativity needs a platform. As technology consultant David Weinberger puts it, “A platform provides resources that lets other people build things.” The library is an ideal platform, and in “Incubating Creativity at Your Library: A Sourcebook for Connecting with Communities,” published by ALA Editions, Library as Incubator Project creators Erinn Batykefer and Laura Damon-Moore share the experiences of numerous creative library workers and artists who are making it happen. Their stories will show you how to move beyond merely responding to community needs towards actively building a platform with your community. And best of all, you don’t need to start from scratch—rather, you amplify what’s already working. Filled with ideas and initiatives that can be customized to suit your library and its community, this book:

  • discusses the four elements (Resources, Invitations, Partnerships & Engagement, and Staff) and the two lenses (Community-Led and Evaluation) of the Creative Library platform;
  • outlines six steps for surveying your community’s artistic landscape;
  • gives methods for expanding partnerships and connections with individuals and organizations through exploration, hands-on learning, and engagement with the community;
  • shares perspectives on the “ideal library” from several artists, with three examples of artist-in-residence programs;
  • offers examples of community invitations in action, such as the Pittsburgh Fiberarts Guild workshops on creating flowers using recycled materials;
  • shows how to use “orphan photos” from your archives for creative inspiration;
  • advises on using qualitative evaluations to effectively “weed” your initiatives; and
  • shares tips for encouraging library staff to express their creativity, turning avocations into library initiatives like Handmade Crafternoons, the Yahara Music Library, or BOOKLESS.

In 2014 the authors cowrote “The Artist’s Library: A Field Guide” and were both named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker for their work on the Library as Incubator Project. Batykefer earned her MFA degree in writing and her MLIS at the University of Wisconsin−Madison. She is also the author of “Allegheny, Monongahela.” She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Damon-Moore has an MLIS degree from the University of Wisconsin−Madison. She is currently a community engagement librarian at the Central Library of the Madison Public Library. She has spoken on community engagement and creativity in libraries for the American Library Association, the South by Southwest conference, and several state and county library associations.

ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness and accreditation programs for library professionals worldwide. ALA Editions | ALA Neal-Schuman publishes resources used worldwide by tens of thousands of library and information professionals to improve programs, build on best practices, develop leadership, and for personal professional development. ALA authors and developers are leaders in their fields, and their content is published in a growing range of print and electronic formats. Contact ALA Editions at (800) 545-2433 ext. 5052 or [email protected].

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