NYC's Academic Library Community Addresses Entrepreneurship at the ACRL/NY 2012 Symposium

On Friday, December 7th, the ACRL/NY 2012 Symposium, "Cultivating Entrepreneurship in Academic Libraries," was held at Baruch College's vertical campus. Each of the day’s five speakers provided examples of entrepreneurship in their personal and professional projects, as well as advice on how staff and leaders can foster entrepreneurship in academic libraries throughout our region.
Steven Bell kicked off the day's presentations with a talk focused on the barriers that institutional cultures can construct in the path to innovation. When attempting to cultivate entrepreneurship in academic libraries while minimizing the burden of institutional culture, Bell’s advice was to start with why. Getting to the root of a need will offer freedom in developing innovative solutions that serve patrons effectively.
Librarian and entrepreneur Naomi House described the processes that she went through in developing (INALJ). House emphasized the value of her independence and vision in creating the site, offering an entrepreneurial perspective different from our traditionally collaborative cultures.
Stephanie Walker, Chief Librarian at Brooklyn College Library, spoke about her institution's innovative collaboration with their Academic IT unit. By developing and then selling their custom library software and book scanners, Brooklyn College demonstrates that innovation and entrepreneurship in academic libraries is vital, not only in response to technological evolution, but to financial needs as well.
Lisa Carlucci Thomas, Director and Founder of design think do, discussed the importance of transformative culture in cultivating entrepreneurship. With a process of learning and interpretation, libraries and librarians can transform traditional practices into something new and innovative — meeting patron needs by creating unique value on an individual basis.
ALA President Maureen Sullivan concluded the day discussing "Creating a Culture of Innovation" in academic libraries. Touching on a theme that had been evident throughout the day, she stressed the importance of creativity in entrepreneurship. She also noted that, in fostering creativity and innovation, we must release the myth of perfection. Adaptation must come at a quicker pace, which involves planning, implementing, and assessing new initiatives continually. Sullivan emphasized that greater courage and risk-taking is necessary in order to develop innovative solutions and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Additional publications and resources mentioned during the symposium are available here. The event also hosted a number of poster sessions, with more information and resources available at