Monday, September 30, 2013

The Freedom to Fail

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be." - John Wooden

Last Friday, I went to the ULA fall workshop at Utah State University and had the pleasure of hearing Salt Lake Public Library's new executive director John Spears talk about the role libraries will play in the future. Spoiler alert: it may not be the same as libraries of the past. Besides the general awesomeness of John's presentation, the participants all seemed to take away one key point: It's okay to fail.

Now, I know on some level we are all aware of this. Yet sometimes our profession seems a little risk-averse and wary of change. New ideas get shot down, sent to committee, analyzed to death, or dismissed as something tried and failed back in [insert year here]. If it didn't work then, why would it work now?

For one thing, times have changed. The information landscape has changed. Our patrons have changed. Quite frankly, our continued relevance depends on adapting to this new environment and creating new metrics that defend our existence. John gave great examples such as YouMedia at the Chicago Public Library and MakerSpace at the Westport Public Library. Here at MWDL, I think that the Pioneers in Your Attic project is a prime example of innovation and change.

Each of us -- whether we are a digital, public, or special library -- need to think of new ways to take risks, innovate, and, yes, possibly fail. A big thanks to John Spears for reminding us at MWDL to be bold!

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