Library Innovation Toolkit – Leah White

NOTE: After this interview was released, the publisher renamed the book The Library Innovation Toolkit.

STEVE THOMAS: This is Circulating Ideas, I’m Steve Thomas. My guest today is Leah White. She’s editing a book, along with Dr. Anthony Molaro, on library innovation, and they’re looking for submissions, so I wanted to have Leah on the show to talk about what they are looking for in the book, and how you can submit.

Leah White, welcome back to the show.

LEAH WHITE: Thank you so much, it’s great to be back.

So we wanted to have you on today, to talk about a book that you have coming up. Can you tell me a little bit about what that’s called, and how you came up with the idea for it?

Yeah, I absolutely can, it’s called “The Library Innovation Cookbook”, and the idea was, there is another book published by ALA, called “The Library Instruction Cookbook”, and my co-editor and I, who is Dr. Anthony Molaro, we both found the format of the cookbook as, you know, cute and charming, but also really practical, the idea that you can take certain situations and just implement them into your library, with like a certain set of quote-unquote ingredients, and just make it work, so we really liked that idea, and we wanted to apply it to all the really great stuff that we know is going on right now. I mean, every day on Twitter or on Facebook, or even Tumblr, we hear about these really great things that libraries are doing, and we want to do them but we don’t always know how. So this is getting all those people, doing cool, innovative things, to write down their process, how it worked, what worked, what failed, and sharing it, so everyone can implement it in their own library.

Right, and that’s a lot of why I like doing the show too, cause I get to hear about all these innovative projects, so it’s neat to share with everybody else.

Mmhmm, Exactly. I mean I think it’s, it’s good for the community to kind of share all these ideas, so we just wanted to create a space where we could do that and also edit a book in the process. We both really like editing, so we’re really looking forward to it.

So have you guys worked together before on a project?

We have, we actually, I went to grad school with Dr. Molaro, and I call him Tony. [laughs] So I went to school with Tony, and we also co-founded the organization called “The Chicago Desk Set” together, which was a kind of social group where librarians and information workers could get together and fundraise, but also drink beer and network, it was a fun group to run, and then when he started his PhD program, we put the Chicago Desk Set into retirement, and now we’re working on this book together, so I’m really excited to be working with him again.

And how do you guys see it being laid out, are you wanting it to be like case studies kind of things, what people have actually done?

Yes. Yeah, it should definitely be things that have actually been implemented, and hopefully have been successful, this is a space to really share ideas that have worked, while I love talking about failure all the time and things that I have done that failed, I, what the whole aim of this book is to take ideas that have worked in other libraries and finding ways to implement those cool, innovative ideas into your own library.

Will you guys be writing any portions of it, or are you just gonna be editing?

Well, we, we’re editing, we’re writing the introduction and the conclusion obviously, but we both actually have chapters that we’ve made for ourselves in the book. I’m going to be writing about the staff training program that we implemented here at the Northbrook Public Library, which is where I work now, for the iPad training, we have iPads in each department, and I helped to create the training materials for that, so we’re gonna talk about that experience, I’m not quite sure which section Anthony’s writing about, I think, and I could be wrong, and he can tell me if I’m wrong, but I think he’s writing about the 80/20 rule, which has to do with staffing and administration, and giving your staff time to work on things for them, and whether that’s technology-related, or articles that they want to be writing, it’s giving them time at work to be working on this professional development type stuff.

That’s like something where I think, I think Google does that, where people have their own set amount of time where they get to do their own project, like things like Gmail come out of that, so it’s probably useful.

Yes, yes exactly, it’s just kind of creating a creative environment where people can get stuff done. I know he does it at his library, so he is the Associate Dean of Library and Instruction Technology at Prairie State College, and I’m pretty sure that’s what he’s writing on.

Do you guys have specific topics that you would like people to write on, or are you kind of completely open at this point?

We’re pretty open, we’re not restricted to adult or youth services, or public or academic, we really want to hit a wide spectrum of services and options, and this can be everything from a program that maybe people have implemented, to a certain staffing structure that’s really unique and hasn’t been done before, it’s really going to run the gamut, however, we did provide broad categories as examples, that people can look to to get advice, or maybe to stimulate some ideas, and those are listed in our call for chapter contributions, which you can find on my website, which is And I can give that web address again if we need to, but they’re all listed there.

I’ll put it on the site when I post it there too, so people can go there to find where to go.

All right, great!

If people want to submit, how would they go about doing that Leah?

Okay, so they can submit their chapter proposals to both Anthony and I, and our email addresses are listed on the website, but what’s needed is an abstract, or some sort of summary of what your idea, an outline, and then a writing sample, just so we know what your writing has been like, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be published to submit to the book, but we do need some sort of evidence of your writing. And our emails are  and . But again, those are listed in the call for chapter proposals.

What’s the deadline?

Oh the deadline for chapter proposal outlines is December 1st, 2012. We wanted to make sure that we got it in at least some point before the holidays. And then people should know if they’ve been accepted, by, we would say early December is what we’re shooting for, we don’t have a solid date on that yet, but it will be early December. And for their participation, people will get a free copy of the book, and hopefully discounts on more. We’re still kind of hammering out those details with ALA right now.

I was gonna ask that, are you publishing through ALA?

We are, yeah, this will be published through ALA Editions in the, hopefully the date would be in the fall of 2013.

And do you have any idea about the e-book editions, or that’s too far out at this point?

That we don’t know at this point, we’re interested in maybe trying to create some sort of online component that goes along with it, maybe a wiki that people could edit or add ideas to, but right now, that’s nothing set in stone, and we’re just taking the chapter contributions, but hopefully there will be other versions of it as well.

You’ve kind of covered this before, but just to be clear, this is for every type of librarian, right?


Anybody who’s a librarian or library staff member can do this?

Absolutely. This is special, academic, public school, this runs the gamut, if you are working on a project and you know it’s awesome and it’s different, and you’re the first person who did it, that’s who we want to talk to, we want to hear from you.

Okay, great Leah, we’ll get this out there, and I hope that you get a lot of people submitting, cause there are lots of good ideas out there, I know this from just doing the podcast for a year and a half, I know there’s a lot of good ideas out there, so.

Awesome, yeah, we’re hoping so too, and thank you so much for having me on.

Thank you so much, Leah.

All right, have a good one!