Creatives in libraries?

Sometimes I struggle with being a creative person working in libraries and where my future lies. I love libraries and I believe I have a lot to offer but I am not always sure how I fit in. When I look at the roles around me and those that I see advertised, I am just not inspired by what I see.

There are awesome creative people in libraries and awesome creative things happening but very few roles that actually allow creatives to flourish which makes me ask the question…

Do libraries really WANT creatives working for them or do they just WANT TO WANT creatives working for them?

Think about it – is your organisation setup to help creatives succeed for you or does it obstruct them in every way? Have you employed a creative in a non-creative role and are you hoping for them to magically be awesome?

Here is the problem with creative people employed in non-creative roles – if you make us do repetitive tasks we get bored, if you make us navigate bureaucratic hurdles we get frustrated and if you ask us for ideas but never action them we lose our confidence. Is it any wonder we can feel unfulfilled and disengaged in the workplace?

Creative ideas may take time to reveal themselves. It is unfair for you to expect us to be creative on demand especially if we are bored, frustrated and lacking confidence. You should note that unproductive periods of time are part of the process so expecting regular and consistent work outputs is unrealistic. If you want us to have great ideas then you have to invest in us with the support and flexibility we need. Trust us, we will work really bloody hard for you and give you fantastic outcomes.

For me, I struggle with being stuck at a desk all day, rosters, uniforms, tedious procedures, getting permission and repetitive tasks. On the other hand, I appreciate flexible work hours, new projects, working with new people, learning new things, working outside the office and being able to insert myself into things that interest me.

I would like to see more organisations recognising those individuals with awesome creative potential and changing and creating new roles for them. Invest in the potential of your staff and work with their strengths to the benefit of all.

This article from Forbes, In Defense Of Middle Managers Who Stifle Innovation by Tendayi Viki, explains why middle managers are often blamed for stifling innovation (and creativity). If the performance of managers is being judged from executives on revenue and stats then what incentivises them to commit staff and resources to exploring new ideas and projects? If our leaders are serious about innovation (and creativity) then success measures need to be changed and this needs to be lead from the top.


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