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The Power of Play: Fostering Creativity and Innovation in Libraries

The concept of play is widely embraced across various age groups in many European countries, often finding its place in public libraries and higher education institutions. However, in the United States, the practice of play tends to be mainly encouraged and accepted among children. However, the realms of libraries, librarianship, and higher education are now more than ever in need of incorporating play to drive innovation within our field and enhance inclusivity among our patrons.

Play can help foster creativity, innovation and allow people to break routines and change the ways they think about their usual workflows. When one is challenged or encouraged to play, there is increased collaboration, communication, comprehension, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence. But also, when playing we learn more about ourselves and each other and we discover how easy and productive learning can be. When we work and play in groups, we are more adaptable, creative, innovative, and fearless. Lastly, playing doesn’t need to cost a lot of money and even those who might be “play insecure” can find activities that might work for them. All we need for play is an intention to be present, passionate, and adaptable, and not be afraid to act silly or look like a fool.


This presentation will discuss the pedagogy of play but also provide practical case studies showing how theory can influence practice in libraries, classrooms, workplaces, makerspaces, outreach & engagement, communication, creativity, health & wellness, storytelling, visual literacy, and so much more.

The Power of Play: Fostering Creativity and Innovation in Libraries


$25 per person for 4+licenses

  • Megan Lotts is the Art Librarian at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where she embraces creativity and play when teaching, building collections, engaging with colleagues, and facilitating programming and events across the New Brunswick campuses. She has presented her research nationally and internationally and has published articles in Art Documentation, portal: the Libraries and the Academy, and more. In 2021 the American Libraries Association published her first book Advancing a Culture of Creativity in Libraries: Programming and Engagement and Lotts is working on her second book The Playful Library forthcoming July 2024. Lotts earned an MFA (2004) and MLIS (2007) from University of Wisconsin-Madison and continues to explore and create site specific art installations and happenings.

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