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The Creative Librarian

Two bloggers I admire, Sara and Marge, have been posting their thoughts about creativity and librarianship. I have a lot of thoughts on this subject as well. I think there is some confusion about creativity. A lot of people don't seem to think they are creative. Well, what does that mean? Creativity does not rely on artistic talent. All humans are creative. There are things you can do to make yourself more creative. It is not an innate personality quirk that some have and others are doomed to flail through life without.

When many of us think of the word "creativity," we think of being a gifted painter or other artist. Artistic talent is just one aspect of creativity. One that, while it seems to be a talent from birth, can be honed with practice. If you spend 10,000 hours drawing, you'll probably wind up being pretty good at it. But if you spent one hour and expect to produce a masterpiece, you'll never get good. Never compare a first draft with a finished product without appreciating how much work went into it.

Another is resourcefulness. If you're a children's librarian, I'll eat my hat (if I was wearing one) if you're not resourceful. If you can think of 1,000 craft uses for a paper towel tube, that's resourceful. If you can put on programs using props you found at home, or dug out of your kid's toy chest, that is being resourceful: using what you have.

A creative thing I do a lot at work or even decorating my house is to find an idea I like and steal it. I figure out how I can make it myself cheaper or faster. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. A lot of the most popular projects I've blogged about weren't my own idea, but I made them my own.

Here are some things you might do creatively every day without even thinking about it:

  • Put together an outfit
  • Adjust your route to work because of traffic and/or construction
  • Spontaneously invite a friend to lunch
  • Draw a face on your burger with ketchup
  • Make up parody lyrics in your head
  • Doodle on a meeting agenda
We need to have a conversation as a profession about how we can be more creative. We need our administrators to give us time to experiment and create. And we need to not be afraid to fail. To do that, we need to accept that failing sometimes is a given. Remember that, in baseball, if you have a .300 batting average, generally considered good, you still only got a hit about every third try. 


  1. Man, I'm so glad anyone got anything out of my post because looking back I'm not even it's written in coherent sentences! I know that's irritating to me when other people call me creative, because it seems like such a throw away term-- "oh, she's the creative type. Let her think of something." Which I think is funny, because based on the way my right hand WANTS to be my dominant hand, I'm not even the right-brained-artsy-traditionally-creative-type. Really, as you say, everyone is "creative" in different ways! Thanks for this post.

  2. I've always thought as myself as resourceful. As a small town librarian with a small budget, you have to be. But I'm glad I can now call myself creative. Thanks for the pat-on-the-back post!.


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