At the Ref Desk (10/6/18): (Question of the Day): "For how much time can I ask you questions?" I told him we were open till nine. [more...]

Innovation Good and Bad

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 9/13/07 (11:11pm)

Aaron Schmidt rightfully quotes himself with pride from an article in the Chicago Tribune:

"There's a lot of dead wood in libraries, and I think there's a lot of administrations that are kind of just biding their time for retirement and don’t feel like putting forth a lot of effort," he said. "I think there’s a general culture of resistance to change. That needs to go away."

He's right of course but I think the problem is a bit more complicated.

(more after the jump...)

"Dead wood" after all is an easy enough concept to grasp: You're either dead or you're not.

But if you go back and survey the record, you'll find that almost as common as the resistance to new ideas has been the lack of resistance to bad ideas. I mean, it's not as if we've been sitting around all these years doing nothing.

All you have to do is look at the very subject of the article that Aaron is referring to, namely, IM in libraries.

For years, we had no IM in libraries. Instead we had "Chat Reference" using quite pricey applications that promised such wonders as "page pushing" and "co-browsing". All I can say is, Où sont les Neiges d'antan?

It'd be an interesting (if painful) exercise to go through the library literature of the past 10-15 years and catalog the initiatives that failed, were abandoned or never quite got off the ground.

I don't bring this up as some sort of argument against change -- I mean, me? Rather it's healthy in understanding how true and meaningful change can occur, to acknowledge or at least to be aware of the boo-boos of the past. On occasion, the same dynamic can still be at work today.