Stop, Collaborate and Listen

By , May 7, 2012 9:31 am

by Kristine Lloyd

I do so love The New Yorker, but I feel like Lucille Ball on the candy conveyor belt—they just keep coming, and I can barely keep up. That said, I am usually about 3 or 4 months behind, but thankfully the articles are often timeless in their wisdom.

Recently, I read this interesting article about collaboration and brainstorming, and it really made me further consider an earlier post I contributed about embedded librarians. There’s no argument that we need each other, but how often does our tendency to groupthink impede the actual exchange of new ideas? It might be that by stepping out of the library and integrating with different departments and practice groups we open ourselves up to new ideas about our library services.

What I found most interesting about the article was the exploration and exchange of ideas based on architecture. The article describes the bunker-like Building 20 at M.I.T. which was initially regarded as an architectural failure but later turned out to be an intellectual breeding ground for collaborations that resulted in the creation of the Bose Corporation, the first video game and Chomskyan linguistics. With people from different departments housed in proximity to each other, there were lots of interdepartmental exchanges of ideas that led to the creation of new theories and inventions.

It always amazes me when, despite all of our outreach efforts, I encounter an attorney who has no idea that we have a library page on our intranet. Not only am I able to assist the attorney in finding helpful resources, but I also have an opportunity to assess how the attorney processes information and what his/her specific needs are. This often generates new ideas for training classes or outreach for a specific practice group. Whether we venture out intermittently or we go whole-hog and set up shop amongst the attorneys, the exchanges we’ll have will surely lead to the library innovations essential to keeping our services fresh.

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