I really like listening to Freakonomics Radio - it's basically discussion of interesting ideas and how they apply to concepts. It's quite seductive, because they're generally left-field or crazy ideas, executed successfully by visionary people with a lot of capital behind them. I like to imagine how some of them might apply to libraries, and what I might do with limitless time and money to help the library cause...
A recent episode in particular really caught my ear. It's worth listening to the whole thing, but here's the bit that struck me. Peter Diamandis, of the X Prize Foundation, said: "If you want to cause a true break-through - the day before something is really a break-through, it's a crazy idea. If it weren't a crazy idea it wouldn't be a break-through; it'd be an incremental improvement."
So where are the crazy ideas for how to rescue libraries from their current plight? If you know of any, leave me a link in the comments. Or even better, if you HAVE a crazy idea you'd be happy sharing, tell us all about it here.
He goes on to say that at a really high level you can't try crazy ideas because you end up being subject to a Congressional review or whatever, so it's up to the small businesses and entrepreneurs to supply the real creativity because they're the only ones who can. There are parallels with libraries here too - we can't really expect the ALA, CILIP or the British Library to do something completely nuts just to try and 'save' libraries, they have too much responsibility. So maybe the ideas have to come from the little people, like us. Maybe if we have crazy ideas now, we'll have the guts to try and implement some of them when we finally get our grubby mitts on some serious responsibility... who knows?
The host of the show, Stephen Dubner, goes on to say:
In the real world, there are real risks. You want winners? There'll be losers too. You want a new solution, a new technology, a new education system? There's going to be a whole lot of people - noisy, well-funded, entrenched people - whose only goal is to defend the status quo. So bring on the crazy ideas!
Makes you think, I reckon.
p.s If you're reading this in Google Reader or otherwise not on the original blog, click through and view the original! There are absolutely FABULOUS crazy ideas for libraries in the comments section, and that's where the real value of this post lies.