21st Century Libraries Look Like: True Innovation

In February of this year I posted 21st Century Libraries and Librarians Look Like: Innovation with a list of eight links to new and innovative ideas “that to me typify what the 21st Century Library looks like – what it does – what it symbolizes – how it performs – how it benefits its community – how it remains relevant – and most of all, how it is different in the 21st Century.”

It’s taken most of the year to run across a new and even more expansive list, this one developed by Pew Internet & American Life Project, titled Library Services in the Digital Age by Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie and Kristen Purcell. While this is another relatively useful Pew report about who’s doing what to who in the library, an offshoot report by Kathryn Zickuhr, Innovative library services “in the wild”, is really the crux of this post, because it deals with an interesting list of innovations in library services, some awesome, some not really new.

Their intro to the list of library innovations simply states;

But we also wanted to include illustrations of some of these more innovative services, to see what they look like on the ground. To that end, we’ve collected examples of many of the types of services mentioned in the report, as well as some “fun and funky” services that we’ve seen pop up at libraries across the county.

We’ll keep updating the list with new examples as we hear about them. Does your library have a neat service we should know about? Send us an email and let us know! And many thanks to everyone who has sent in examples so far.

So, if your library has any really great innovative ideas that you want the world to know about, let Pew Research know and they’ll share it with the library world.

My favorite part of their list was the state-by-state listing of innovations that include the following. There are many more states and libraries with somewhat innovative programming, but the ones below look to me like true innovations.

A librarian in the home: “This program sends librarians outside the library to the far reaches of their rural service area. Librarians are vetted and trained for this very specialized program, and often teach patrons on technology in their own living rooms.” Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO

“Lost in the Stacks,” a one-hour weekly radio show, is done in partnership with the local NPR affiliate, WJCT. “DJs/librarians Andrew Coulon and Matthew Moyer play diverse selections from the library’s collection. Sometimes include local musicians and educators join Coulon and Moyer in the studio to select songs from the collection and share how these pieces have influenced their own lives.” Jacksonville Public Library

Early literacy / wildlife “trunks”: “The Montana State Library has developed a partnership with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The trunks, which we refer to as ‘Ready 2 Read Goes Wild,’ utilize the ‘Growing Up Wild’ curriculum with a focus on Montana wildlife. We have developed trunks that feature ungulates, bears, owls, creepy-crawlies, water, and tracks. Each of the trunks includes between 15 – 20 books on the subject, (both fiction and non-fiction); puppets; the Growing Up Wild curriculum guide; and wildlife resources, such as grizzly hides, elk antlers, deer hooves, a number of rubber tracks, skulls, and more. … Additionally, MT FWP staff works with libraries across the state to provide programming in libraries on MT animals.” There is a short video about the program here. Montana State Library

New Jersey
Historic Walk Through Your Hometown – Guided walk through Bradley Beach in collaboration with Borough Historian that highlights significant historic landmarks and events. Bradley Beach Public Library

Naked Came the Rogue: a Serial Mystery set in Southern Oregon’s Jackson County – a serial mystery book, written by 9 local authors, based on librarians helping to solve the mystery of the dead bodies popping up in or near some local libraries. Ashland Branch of the Jackson County Library Services

Living Books: Patrons “can ‘check out’ (interview) an interesting person on a specific subject-such as a mathematician or artist.” Georgetown Public Library

Online E-Resources Scavenger Hunt: “The Library of Virginia and Credo Reference . . . partnered together to create a set of questions that take users through a virtual adventure, where points are earned and research know-how is accumulated. Those that successfully make it to the end of the mission even receive a printable certificate acknowledging the online trek.” Library of Virginia and Credo Reference

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