A simple working definition of creativity is problem identification and idea generation, whereas innovation refers to idea selection and its development and commercialisation.
Why is creativity and innovation so important for organisational success ? Organisations which keep creativity and innovation high on their agenda tend to be leaders in their fields, strive to maintain their leadership position longer and are likely to be quicker to bounce back when threatened by competitors. Toyota, the world’s famous motor vehicle manufacturer, for instance has developed a mechanism to encourage its employees to generate thousands of bright ideas resulting in one hundred worthwhile projects and a few development programmes.
In the same vein, faced by dramatic changes in the information environment and the ICT sector, library managers have interest not only to adapt to these sweeping changes, but, more importantly to trigger innovative ideas from their personnel with a view to remain at the frontiers of knowledge rather than mere passive observers. Technology can be used creatively in service delivery by means of the mobile phone, for instance. Some libraries have adopted this tool to send overdue reminders to patrons for the late return of library materials whereas others use this for current awareness. While technology is definitely part of the solution, there is no reason to over-glorify technology and overlook the human resource behind the technological revolution.
Innovation in libraries may involve the following initiatives:
The discovery of unmet user needs
The introduction of new services or the retooling of traditional services resulting in a better user experience
Creative collaboration among libraries or between libraries and other institutions
Explorations of the future of libraries
Implementing new technologies to improve and extend library services to meet user needs
Redefining processes that encourage finding new and better ways to make library collections and facilities more useful
Incorporating best practices from foreign libraries wherever possible.
In short, libraries must be obsessed by innovation and creativity and constantly endeavour to re-invent themselves, re-engineer their services while keeping their clientele at the heart of all operations.