Sunday, April 8, 2012

Think Like A Startup: A White Paper to Inspire Library Entrepreneurialism

Brian Mathews >  Associate Dean  > Learning and Outreach > 
The University Libraries of Virginia Tech

This document is intended to inspire transformative thinking using insight into startup culture and innovation methodologies. It’s a collection of talking points intended to stir the entrepreneurial spirit in library leaders at every level.

Facing the Future > We don’t just need change > we need breakthrough, paradigm-shifting, transformative, disruptive ideas.


  • Startups are organizations dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
  • Now is not the time to find new ways of doing the same old thing.
  • Launching a good idea is always better than not launching an awesome one.
  • Don’t just expand services: solve problems.
  • The library is a platform, not a place, website, or person.
  • Libraries need less assessment and more R&D.
  • Focus on relationship building instead of service excellence and satisfaction.
  • Don’t just copy & paste from other libraries: invent!
  • Grow your ideas: Build, Measure, Learn.
  • Iterate & Prototype.
  • Plant many seeds; nurture the ones that grow.
  • Seize the whitespace.
  • Good ideas are usable, feasible, and valuable.
  • Give new ideas a place to incubate.
  • Give new ideas enough time to blossom.
  • Give new ideas a way to get funded.
  • Give new ideas the talent they require.
  • Give new ideas room to fail… and then evolve.
  • Give up on a new idea if it just don’t work.
  • Innovation happens out in the open—not behind closed doors.
  • Innovation is a team sport. Practice it regularly.
  • Innovation is messy.
  • Innovation is disruptive.
  • Real innovators get their hands dirty.
  • Being strategic is about stretching not sustaining.
  • Stake a claim in other parts of the scholarly enterprise.
  • Build a strategic culture, not a strategic plan.
  • Entrepreneurialism is a cultural imperative, not something that should only happen in small pockets of your organization.
  • Strive to change the profession.
  • Aim for epiphanies
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MTPosner said...

Just to say thank you and show you how far you reach.
Miriam Posner, Director of Libraries Department, Tel-Aviv-Yafo, Israel

azie crystal said...

its inspiring. credit is extended to the prolific author and Ass Prof Karen MacDonald of Georgia State University whom lead me to this link.

S.S. Ray said...

the theme is excellent. Thank you so very much for that. However, the situation of libraries vary according to region in the globe and even locally! like, at this moment, some 25 students from a local institute doing Degree courses on Social Welfare came into our library for their project work. They need abstracts of literature on topics of their projects. Earlier, we used to get the 'selected' abstracts in floppy drives and hand them over. Now we just ask them to select the relevant abstracts and save them in a file and we send them as attachment file in their e. mail. We are doing the same old thing in a little bit modified way as Floppy discs are no longer used and we do'nt allow use of external pen drives in our Library Computers. This activity is as you have rightly mentioned, is not just expanding services but solving a problem.

However, admittedly the points you havre mentioned are really commendable.

Siddhartha S. Ray
Librarian, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta R-1, B.P. Township, Calcutta INDIA