The Power of Play: Fostering Creativity and Innovation in Libraries

Lisa Kurt, William Kurt, Ann Medaille


Play is a powerful method of fostering creativity and innovation in organizations. As libraries confront a rapidly changing information landscape, the need for innovation in meeting user needs is paramount. Libraries can embrace organizational play as a means of stimulating employee creativity and developing innovative products and services. This article discusses the work-play dichotomy, the definition of play, and the Millennial generationâs attitude toward play. Several important characteristics of play are discussed, including time and space, transformation potential, safety, and intrinsic motivation. Various types of play activities are explored, and the psychological links that exist between play and creativity are examined. Several successful businesses have made bold moves to embrace organizational play. Examinations of Google, 37signals, IDEO, and Pixar Animation Studios provide lessons about the ways that play can be integrated into the library workplace. Finally, this article poses questions that should be answered by libraries wishing to foster a culture of innovation through play.


libraries; library workplace; play; creativity; innovation; design thinking

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ISSN: 1947-525X