Express Creativity - Create Content

Express Creativity - Create Content

Posted on Friday May 20, 2011 at 10:29AM

Express Creativity: Create Content

Those who have heard me give the training on Strategic Planning for Results may remember hearing me refer to this Library Service Response as the “dangerous one.” The reason for this is because Expressing Creativity: Create and Share Content can be one of the biggest money drains on often already limited financial resources. Also, which activities a library chooses to host may not actually meet the needs it was intended to due to lack of information and misinterpretation. For example: If the community wants access to media production resources, and the library hosts a poetry writing club or a quilting bee, although the Library Service Response is covered, the community need is not met.

That’s not to say that poetry writing and quilting are not legitimate areas of creativity. The point is that the activities the library chooses to engage in must match the need that the community identifies. Some of the areas of creative expression to be considered are: video and sound recording and editing, blogging, webpage design, animation, photography, calligraphy, writing (poetry, news articles, stories and novels), writing and designing comic books and graphic novels, needlework, performing arts, music writing and performing, sculpture, scrapbooking, etc.

With so many ways to express creativity, which should you choose? Go back to the information supplied to you by the facilitator of the Community Planning Committee. You should be able to see what need started the conversation that led to the choosing of this service response. If not, the member of the library board or library staff who attended the meeting should think back to how this service response came to be chosen. Was it a general need, for creativity to be stimulated in young people/seniors/toddlers/adults? Or did this service response get chosen after a discussion of the technology skills of the community and how to expand them? If your library decided not to use a focus group, but went with a more general survey, you will have a much harder time discovering the root of this choice of service responses.

If it is not clear, based on notes, memory or survey just what instigated this particular choice then you need to look around the community and see where the gaps are. There’s an art studio in town that’s well attend? Awesome, scratch that off the list. But wait! What if that art studio is only for girls, or only for children? If your demographic is mostly seniors with limited opportunities for activities, this may be a gap. Looking for gaps, not only in a particular area, but for specific target groups as well, can help you determine which activities to promote through your library.

Some major considerations before settling on one or two activities that will meet your community’s needs are: space, time, knowledge and budget.

  • If you are in a small library with space for only one or two computers, you will be hard pressed to host a program on multimedia production.
  • Creativity takes time. You cannot expect a program to be a single session, if most of the equipment or resources are new to the attendees. Programs may be several sessions long, and more than an hour per session. That’s quite a bit of staff time.
  • Also, if you do choose something highly technological, do you have the knowledge base on staff, not only to run the program, but troubleshoot when things go wrong? While you may rely on outside presenters, if patrons need to use library software or equipment after the session is over, library staff should know how everything works.
  • And all of this costs money. Do you have enough? Will you charge for sessions? Can you pay staff overtime while they are learning new things to keep up with the patrons?

See? Dangerous! But don’t shy away from it, if your community feels strongly that the library should meet this need. Look for partnerships and grants to help out. Patrons themselves can be great resources.

In the next blurb, I’ll deal more with physical resources and the sharing aspect of this library service response.


  • Library Manager’s Advisory Council is next week Wednesday, May 25th. The training session for the Summer Reading Program will run simultaneously, so bring along your programmer and let us know how many to expect for lunch.
  • The deadline for nominations for the 2011 Great Kids Award is June 6. If you have a page or library volunteer who is awesome, or even a young patron, consider nominating them. Find more details at:
  • Statements of Receipts and Disbursements, as well as your 2011 Budget, are due to Municipal Affairs by June 15. We at NLLS need a copy of each as well. For more information, go to:
  • The brochure for the conference is online! Go to:
  • To register for the conference online, go to:

Author: Northern Lights Library System


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