Trustee Tuesday: Innovation & Iteration

Innovate > Iterate > Innovate > Iterate

Innovation in libraries is often seen as something new, difficult, technological, and expensive. We hear innovation within the story Silicon Valley has written for us – an iPhone X that many of us will never be able to afford, a driverless car that many of us would never consent to.

For the purposes of this reading, and for your work in libraries, discard that story of innovation, for the one I tell you here.

The Obligation of Innovation

Innovation is changing the way something happens, in a way that is useful to the people who interact with that happening. But in no way does it require role changes.

For instance, I am a mother of two children, each very different than the other. My role for them is, and always will be, as their mamma – the person who will support and facilitate their development into functional, and hopefully independent and helpful, adults. Still, what feels like everyday, I need to shift how I approach how I implement my role. Some of those activities were true innovations (getting
my youngest to school without tears is a particularly excellent development).

Innovation is developing something that answers a previously unseen potential. Take this video from Kansas City Public Television about how local library systems are developing their entrepreneurship support services (click on the video below). The innovation is human.

And there will be a time when it no longer works the way we want it to, and our culture needs to be able to shift with that.

Enter iteration as a core organizational competency.

The Merriam-Webster definition that I hold in my head for iteration is this:

a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to a desired result

For our libraries to be responsive to shifting needs and resources, we need to open all of our practices and procedures to iteration, to shifts, to innovation. That includes being open to innovations sprouting from directors, staff, trustees, and community members. The role of the library isn’t diminished through the iterative re-creation of services; rather, it is strengthened.

Upcoming Learning Opportunities for Trustees

Join Brian Hildreth for a Tax Cap Updates & Refresher at the Cuba Circulating Library on Tuesday, December 12th from 10:30 am to 11:15 am. This workshop is available in person and via GoToMeeting. To get the GoToMeeting information, please register here [].

For all upcoming events, please visit the STLS program calendar.

As ever, please contact me with questions, concerns, and ideas.

Iteratively yours,

Margo Gustina
Deputy Director, Trustee Consultant