University of Texas at Arlington

Edmonton Public Library Visit

Risk Taking and (R)evolution

Edmonton Public Library Visit

The world around us is rapidly changing, especially with the advanced and avid use of modern technology. Libraries of all kinds are also changing to keep up with the times. No longer is the library a repository of information but an all-in-one place to meet the needs of the people they serve. “The future of libraries is caught up in our ability to change and continually respond to the rapid changes around us,” (Powers, 2012).

It is not only up to libraries to keep up with their patrons but to network and connect with other libraries to grow and foster innovative ways to get with the times. A great example of strengthening your library to strengthen the ability to help your patrons is 2014’s Library of the Year winner, the Edmonton Public Library.

“EPL has served as a pioneering gathering place, connecting people and expanding minds. In the process, it changed the parameters of what it means to be a public library and transformed itself. Having the spirit and creativity to do that meant taking risks, innovating, and embracing change,” (Berry III, 2014).

The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries were excited to host a visit from representatives of the EPL to talk about team work philosophy, culture of innovation, and impactful branding and marketing. The visit had been a positive and inspiring experience for the staff at the UT Arlington Library. Two significant takeaways from the visit were EPL’s use of marketing and branding and the importance of leading from any position.

“The thing I was most inspired by with Edmonton Public Library in their visit was their ability to pull all the cool things that they have going on and really highlight the great work that their staff were doing in a cohesive package,” said Suzanne Byke, Associate University Librarian for UT Arlington. “Things that, within our profession, it's really common for people not to recognize how unique and different and impactful your programs or your services are for your population.”

Byke felt that while many libraries are involved with various programming, what made EPL special was their ability to talk about how cohesive the programming was across their branches and that they did it in a way that was compelling.

EPL’S successful implementation of the Leading from Any Position program has fostered individual initiative and risk-taking, and given power to employees who don’t hold supervisory or managerial positions to share ideas and take action without needing someone in a higher position to step in.

“By giving staff the confidence to make decisions, simple problems can be addressed without the delays of pushing the issue up the organization chart to senior administration,” Bob Samson, Library Systems and Technology, Department Head said.


photos taken during EPL's visit to UTA Libraries