The Faintest Ink Is Better Than The Best Memory

You can have the greatest idea ever, but if you fail to capture it then there is no chance it could ever come to fruition. So one of the most important steps in moving from idea to implementation is to have a good system for capturing ideas. This topic has come up before at DBL.

At my library we recently had a follow-up to our summer retreat. It was both an opportunity to keep the conversation going about customer service and user experience in the library, and take on a new project to help ourselves get better at improving our user experience. This particular segment of the retreat follow-up program was titled “Capture An Idea.” It introduced an initiative in which all staff would focus on recording ideas about the library and our services. To help get us started, four categories of ideas were recommended:

* Community member’s user behavior
* Things that are broken
* Complaints and compliments
* Whatever – ideas that pop into your head about the library

The Capture an Idea project was introduced and everyone received a well-designed notebook for capturing their ideas:

This is the notebook for ideas distributed to staff

The notebook was designed and produced by Aaron Schmidt, best known for Walking Paper blog. Schmidt also provides a number of nifty library-oriented creativity supplies through his online shop. To capture ideas you need a good notebook, and I thought the inspirational message on the cover would be a good reminder of why we want to capture them. I think my colleagues enjoyed receiving the book. In fact, it didn’t even take 30 minutes for the first good idea to emerge: get more books for our student workers because they are often the eyes and ears of the library when we are not present. See, we can make a difference. I will look forward to all of the ideas we collect during the spring semester.

Author: StevenB

Steven Bell is currently Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Temple University, and was previously Director of the Library at Philadelphia University. Steven is the author of two regular columns published by Library Journal, From the Bell Tower and Leading From the Library. With John Shank he is co-founder of the Blended Librarians Online Learning Community. Bell and Shank are also authors of the book Academic Librarianship by Design. Bell's latest book is Crucible Moments: Inspiring Library Leadership. More information is found at his website.

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