Innovate

America's libraries are well-positioned to play a large role in helping communities adapt to a changing world. They continue to transform themselves, keeping pace with the changing economic, social, and technological aspects of American society. Libraries’ deepening engagement with their communities takes many forms, from technology to education to social services, and serves many segments of the population.

Makerspaces

In recent years, libraries of all types have begun to create space and activities that center around creativity. From rewiring a lamp, to 3D printers, to sewing circles, libraries are capitalizing on a priceless commodity: the sharing of personal knowledge, or learning by doing.

"Makerspaces are a reflection of the times. Here we have people coming together as a community to fix things, creatively and cheaply, and to continue to maintain and create, including those who lack individual purchasing power. This is true library form: accepting and helping everyone, together, as a community."

-Caitlin A. Bagley, What is a Makerspace? Creativity in the Library, ALA Techsource, December 20, 2012

Gaming

Games are drawing attention in libraries as successful outreach tools for tweens, teens and seniors. They are also gaining ground in schools as valuable resources that introduce and reinforce a variety of curricular, social and life skills.
 

The inclusion of gaming in a library collection is not unexpected if you take some perspective. Libraries hit a turning point when they made the decision to start including popular media in their collections. By doing so, they shifted their collection development practices to be more inclusive of what their patrons want, embracing the desires of the community. They also opened the door to more non-traditional resources. And by continuing to develop a more inclusionary collection development policy, libraries are laying the foundation for building a collection of ideas.

— Brian Mayer, Library Gamer

Frequently Asked Questions About Gaming in Libraries

Articles About Innovation in Libraries

Community members of all ages learn programming with the assistance of Westport (Connecticut) Library’s winsome instructors, Nancy and Vincent. Nancy and Vincent are child-size robots designed by French company Alderban, and they’ve taken Westport’s commitment to integrating technology to a whole new level. Whether sharing soccer moves, doing tai chi, talking to patrons, or patiently accommodating the instructions of novice coders, Nancy and Vincent have charmed the community and sparked interest in computer programming. READ MORE
One of the ways Libraries Transform is by innovating along larger societal trends or the shifting needs and interests of patrons. These trends and their impact on libraries are tracked by ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries. This is the first in a series of articles that will highlight some of those trends and how libraries have incorporated them into the services they provide to their communities. Digital badging takes an old concept (think Scouting badges) and re-configures it for the digital age. Badging provides a way to recognize formal and informal learning that happens across educational settings. Given the range of learning that libraries facilitate, it should come as no surprise that academic, school, and public libraries are experimenting and innovating with badging.  READ MORE
Despite living at the height of the information age with unimaginable quantities of information flowing towards us, we have a visceral need to push back and create…..to formulate our own questions and build things big and small, quiet and loud, functional and aesthetic. Creation reinforces learning and sparks innovation; it builds problem-solving and collaboration skills; it empowers the maker; and it fosters community around education. Libraries have always been hubs of self-directed learning and their embrace of the maker movement is no surprise, but what they offer can truly amaze.The Bubbler at Madison Public Library is a community-driven, system-wide maker program that harnesses the talents of Madison artists and craftspeople to demonstrate, teach, share and inspire. From art car derby to printmaking to audio recording, the Bubbler offers something for every interest, and a way for everyone to tap into their inner maker. The Bubbler has also become a destination, offering after school programming for teens and after hours events for adults. It’s the new cool. READ MORE