>Keeping the Creativity Alive

>I’ve mentioned before how much I love LIS as a field where folks are creative, active, and engaged with others. I have been so fortunate to connect with people around the country (and some around the world) who challenge and inspire me! One of the first things I tell prospective or new LIS students is what a great potential there is for trying out new ideas in a non-judgmental environment, and most importantly, having a lot of fun while thinking up new ways to look at the field or to make it better. Looking for inspiration? I’ve compiled a short list of folks who have been very inspirational to me and who have challenged me to try new things.

Andy Woodworth
Andy is so fun and energetic, and constantly bringing new ideas and valuable insights to the table on his blog and on Twitter. I love that he goes beyond serious (and tedious) discussions of the field to inject some fun into what we do (see People for a library-themed Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Flavor) but always with the goal of promoting libraries’ visibility and advocating for their importance. His career ties in very well with my idea of the librarian as someone who is not only creative and passionate, but takes a multi-pronged approach to talking about their work and networking with others. Some good places to learn more about Andy are his blog (see this post for a great discussion on the importance of advocacy and the value of creative thinking), Twitter (@wawoodworth; also be sure to check out #andypoll, a periodic poll of librarians nationwide on a variety of issues–it’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of our field and learn from a wide range of insights), and Facebook.
Courtney Walters
Courtney is an alumnus of my program, and I feel like she embodies all the wonderful things going on in our field. After getting her MLS, Courtney got a job at Saint Ambrose University (Davenport, IA) at the curriculum library. Why I think following her is a great idea (besides the fact that she’s awesome) is that she went into a library with very little visibility and brought it into the 21st century by creating a blog and Facebook page. She has taken the blog past discussing new acquisitions, changes in hours, etc (although those topics aren’t neglected) to also discuss new technologies and resources that are valuable for her patrons. More and more library blogs are leaning in this direction, but I think we can all learn a lot from Courtney by looking at her dedication to her patrons and her continued search to bring them the best information she can! Follow her on Twitter: @cleighwalters.
Micah Vandegrift
I owe Twitter a huge debt of gratitude for introducing me to Micah this past year. He is a tireless advocate for students, offers wildly intelligent discussion of LIS, and is generally an inspirational person all around. Micah is responsible for #hacklibschool (see the blog post here) a project to crowdsource a discussion about LIS education that has been a huge success. I for one would love to see #hacklibschool continue far into the future, and serve as the foundation for other crowdsourced discussions (i.e. in special interest areas or for certain learning groups), and a large reason behind why I love it so much is how a democratic and open forum seems to bring out the best in students and new professionals. I have seen so many great comments and suggestions on how to get the most out of LIS education, and even when people disagree, it sparks a constructive discussion rather than negative in-fighting. I am so lucky I know and work with someone who inspires his peers in this way, and I know a lot of other students feel the same way! Micah also uses his blog, The Infornado, as a place to discuss current trends in the field, especially those things that impact students. The posts on ‘What I learned in library school’ are definitely worth a read: Micah recruited a number of guest bloggers to share their thoughts on their educational process, and the results are so helpful to students feeling lost or like they want to read multiple perspectives. Micah is also on Twitter (and you must follow him): @micahvandegrift.
Lauren Dodd
I love Lauren’s fun and bubbly personality, and I love that she brings her awesome optimistic mindset to discussions of important topics in librarianship. Lauren’s blog (Lauren in Libraryland) is fun to read, and like Micah she uses it as a space to share ideas and resources for LIS students. Lauren is another person I owe Twitter for connecting with, and she and Micah are two of the most inspirational student bloggers I know! Lauren uses her creativity to take her discussion of LIS education beyond resources (which are useful, and which she does share) to incorporate her own experiences in volunteering, conference attendance, etc. which make for a blog (and blog author) that connects with the reader very effectively! Follow Lauren on Twitter @laurendodd
My B Sides Ladies
How can I forget some of the folks who have been pivotal in my own development as a LIS student and an academic? I’ve talked all of your ears off about B Sides, but I think it’s worth mentioning from a creativity standpoint because the two founders, Rachel Smalter Hall and Angela Murillo, built it from the ground up as a space for students to learn and share. I would love to see more journals like B Sides pop up in other departments, because it has been such a positive experience for us as editors and for students as contributors, and it really allows us to grow and learn in surprising ways! I have learned so much from our current crew (Katie DeVries Hassman, Melody Dworak, Sam Bouwers) as well, who always have new ideas for getting students involved and excited (B Sides conference!) and are passionate about making the journal (and the SLIS experience) even better! Their blogs and Twitter names: Rachel- Banana Suit Librarian, @bananasuit. Katie: Look Lady, @hypatlikeya. Melody Dworak: The Melody Party, @funkmelodious. Angela Murillo: Homepage, @angelitamu. Sam Bouwers is on Facebook, and you can also get ahold of her through our B Sides email (bsides@uiowa.edu) and Twitter! @uofiowabsides.

There are thousands more LIS folks out there who are making valuable contributions to the field, many of which I didn’t include because I didn’t want to make this post too long or I don’t know about them yet! If there’s someone who’s inspired you, tell me about them in the comments! I would love to create a space where we can share ideas and inspiration, and applaud those who are making our field the wonderful thing that it is!

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