New Library Project Lacks Innovation: Reader


It’s always a pleasure to receive a comment from frequent Bulldog contributor Ron Benn.

The copy is clean, the arguments are invariable cogent and the writing provocative. Why it’s even a pleasure to read his comments when he disagrees with your agent.

Here Ron looks at the lack of innovation in the new library project:

We live in a society that has, over the course of the last decade or two, evolved from having to accept what was being offered, be it retail, news, entertainment, on a schedule dictated by others (store hours 10:00-10:00, news at 11:00, the movie of the week starts at 9:00) to “what I want, when I want, where I want”. That is the basis of the dramatic shift to on-line shopping, on-line news services, and NetFlix, and the consequent downturn or demise of the old, tried and true solutions (department stores, print media, Blockbuster Video).

At the other end of the spectrum, and at the risk of stereotyping, the people who are attracted to government positions (elected and administrative) tend not to be the most innovative individuals (very few would meet the definition of early adopter), and not particularly adept at developing whole new business models (Facebook, Twitter). Those are the areas where entrepreneurial souls congregate. Entrepreneurial souls do not fare well in large organizations, and thus are likely to either avoid joining one, or having joined one, leave shortly thereafter.

In the face of quickly evolving, often disruptive, changes to our social structure, we have decision-makers who are generally risk-averse, being more comfortable with what they know (bricks and mortar), and less likely to be innovative thinkers. When you put risk-averse, conventional thinkers in decision-making positions, we can expect conventional, low risk solutions.

For the case at hand, the municipal authorities are offering us a precast concrete and glass (the modern version of bricks and mortar) central library that offers us a “what they want, when they want, where they want” solution. The mismatching of the solution to society’s behaviour patterns starts and ends with the pronoun – they versus I – where “they” are city hall, and I is the individual. The proposed central library is a 1990s solution to a 2020s society.

The mismatch could not be more pronounced. Sadly, the proposed solution involves tens of millions of our tax dollars.



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2 thoughts on “New Library Project Lacks Innovation: Reader

  1. Hear, hear. Well stated.

    The willingness and foresight to be innovative requires courage.

    The willingness to set priorities between luxury items and necessary items requires courage too.

    Bring on the sod, the bread, the dragons, the tunnels, the limos, the travel, the expense account “working” lunches and the monuments that house no people. It is the way things have always been done and shall forever more; can I have an amen.



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