Advancing a Culture of Creativity in Libraries: Programming and Engagement

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the author
  • Reviews

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This book shows academic and public libraries the many benefits of nurturing a culture of creativity, offering hands-on guidance on encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration, launching active-learning events that highlight collections and services, fostering goodwill and trust-building, and forming partnerships that promote library visibility.

Today’s library workers have many roles to play: information gatekeepers, connectors, collaborators, and storytellers. The key ingredient is creativity, which acts as the lynchpin of functioning successfully as a team as well as impacting communities in positive ways. This book examines creativity and how it can be applied in library work culture, programming, and outreach. Lotts shows how libraries can encourage staff to approach teaching, learning, and problem-solving in unconventional ways. This invigorating book 

  • demonstrates why the challenges of our current historical moment provide us with a unique opportunity to stop and consider our work and our goals;
  • dives into several case studies of creative and playful library projects, many of which can be adapted for reuse, investigating how they came to be and the impact they have had on their communities;
  • discusses getting buy-in from administrators and funding organizations;
  • offers pointers on collaborating with communities;
  • guides readers in assessing the impact projects have on communities; and
  • talks about how to learn and grow from failure and frustration.


Part I: Creative Library Culture
Chapter 1: Creativity Is Not a Superpower
Chapter 2: Active Learning and Play
Chapter 3: Creativity and Team-Building
Chapter 4: Engagement and Partnerships
Chapter 5: Assessment

Part II: Ideas in Action
Chapter 6: Making It Happen
Chapter 7: LEGO
Chapter 8: The Bubbler
Chapter 9: Zines
Chapter 10: Button-Making
Chapter 11: Rutgers Art Library Exhibition Spaces  
Chapter 12: Experimentation Station
Chapter 13: Faculty Writing Retreats
Chapter 14: Urban Sketching


  • Appendix A: Rutgers University Libraries-New Brunswick Events, Exhibits, Outreach, and Engagement Assessment Form
  • Appendix B: Creativity Worksheet


Megan Lotts

Megan Lotts is the Art Librarian at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where she regularly embraces creativity when teaching research workshops, building collections, and facilitating programming and events across the New Brunswick campuses. She has presented her research on makerspaces, play, and the work of library liaisons both nationally and internationally and has published articles in Art Documentation, portal: the Libraries in Academia, College and Research Libraries News and more. She earned an MFA (2004) and MLIS (2007) from University of Wisconsin-Madison; and a BFA in Painting (2000) and BFA in Art History (2002) from the University of Illinois- Champaign-Urbana. She currently lives in New Brunswick, NJ where she continues to explore, make, and engage in daily activities involving creativity and play.

"Creativity can seem a daunting and elusive topic for those who do not view themselves as particularly imaginative, but Lotts alleviates those doubts early in the book, assuring readers that innovation has a unique manifestation in everyone ... The principles of creativity that Lotts underscores will resonate with any audience. With the guidance outlined in part 1, librarians can consider derivatives of the model activities from part 2. Readers should expect to move through this work quickly because of the succinct length, but also due to the clear tone and anecdotal style. This book is recommended as a starting place for librarians who seek to offer more engaging programs."
— Law Library Journal

"Her message of thinking outside the box is a timely one for library professionals facing shrinking budgets, pay, and staffing while conversely facing increasing demands from administrators as well as patrons ... Though unconventional, this book has a certain charm and utility."
— Catholic Library World

"A succinct guide and useful primer that offers guidance, suggested practices, and recommended next steps for library professionals interested in developing creative practice and programming at their library."
— Technical Services Quarterly

"The first example [in the book] is a Library Lego Playing Station which was cheap to set up and encouraged creative problem-solving through fun play. Other ideas that would work well for public libraries are zines, button-making, experimentation station and my favourite: urban sketching where you ‘show the world, one drawing at a time’ which helped participants connect, share and escape their everyday lives during the pandemic ... I would recommend this book to all librarians who would like to engage with their communities in a creative way through collaboration and taking risks while learning, sharing and creating."
— Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association