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Failure’s Role in Innovation and Discovery Highlighted in Research Library Issues

aerial view of an airplane in the woods
image CC0 by David Kovalenko

The latest issue of Research Library Issues (RLI) emphasizes the value of professional failure—both its necessary role in experimentation and its key role in learning. This issue of RLI presents an opportunity to explore ways to shift the library community’s culture away from risk aversion and toward risk-taking and innovation. The vignettes and case studies published in this issue show that failure in many forms is a stepping stone to success.

Tom Wall, university librarian of Boston College and past chair of the ARL Innovation Lab (2016–2017), sets the stage for this issue with an essay on “Failure, Risk, and the Entrepreneurial Library.”

Seven vignettes by the following authors give readers a taste of a variety of failures and lessons learned:

  • Gerald Beasley, Cornell University
  • Marwin Britto, University of Saskatchewan
  • Holly Ann Burt, University of Southern California
  • Samuel “Scott” Hall, ServiceNow
  • Amanda Rinehart, The Ohio State University
  • Lorelei Rutledge and Lis Pankl, The University of Utah
  • Catherine Soehner, The University of Utah

Four case studies explore professional failures more deeply:

Research Library Issues no. 292 (2017) is freely available from ARL Digital Publications.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 123 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.