Do you have an idea? You probably do, because coming up with ideas is easy. Ideas happen all the time. Anyone can have an idea. And when you have one, you don’t need to worry about whether or not it’s a good idea or a bad idea, if it’s important or valuable, if it’s smart or idiotic, if it’s practical or unrealistic. All you have to do is make sure you capture it. You never know when you’re going to have an idea, need an idea or what kind of idea might work for which situation, so you want to have a log of ideas to refer to whenever an idea depleted situation arises.
What is an idea? Ideas are solutions to problems. Ideas are thoughts of inspiration. Ideas are deal makers, and, of course, deal breakers. Ideas are catalysts, questions, improvements, complaints, intentions and observations. Ideas are also easily forgotten and often thrown away. Therefore, since ideas are so valuable, yet so easily tossed aside or forgotten, keeping track of them is important.
How do you capture an idea? The easiest way to capture an idea is to write it down. It’s pretty simple. Whenever you think of something, observe something or hear something, you just pull out a writing utensil and jot it down. At the Public Services Retreat Follow-up Meeting held in January, Steven Bell introduced the ‘Idea Book’ to Temple Libraries. The intention of the Idea Book is to provide a place for staff and students at Temple Libraries to capture their ideas about enhancing the service and experience of the libraries. The important concept to remember about using the Idea Book is that everything is acceptable. Remember that all ideas are valuable and that one idea can lead to another; and, it’s not until you see your idea in writing – think it out loud – and share it with others that you can then assess which idea is usable for the moment.
- Things you get ideas from when you listen to library users (e.g., complaints, questions, etc.)
- Things you observe by watching library users, particularly things they are doing in the library that are unexpected
- Things that are broken
- Anything library related
Here are some ideas I had recently. While I was sitting at the reference desk the other day, I thought about the types of questions we get regularly and the kinds of issues that arise at the desk. I decided to jot down some ideas about “Reminders” we could post at or near the reference desk to help patrons navigate the library or better acquaint themselves with the library. The first two ideas were more for the staff’s benefit and piece of mind, but helpful tips for patrons, nonetheless.