Think Like A Startup: A White Paper to Inspire Library Entrepreneurialism

This document is intended to inspire transformative thinking using insight into startup culture and innovation methodologies. It’s a collection of talking points intended to stir the entrepreneurial spirit in library leaders at every level.


  • Startups are organizations dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
  • Now is not the time to find new ways of doing the same old thing.
  • Launching a good idea is always better than not launching an awesome one.
  • Don’t just expand services: solve problems.
  • The library is a platform, not a place, website, or person.
  • Libraries need less assessment and more R&D.
  • Focus on relationship building instead of service excellence and satisfaction.
  • Don’t just copy & paste from other libraries: invent!
  • Grow your ideas: Build, Measure, Learn.
  • Iterate & Prototype.
  • Plant many seeds; nurture the ones that grow.
  • Seize the whitespace.
  • Good ideas are usable, feasible, and valuable.
  • Give new ideas a place to incubate.
  • Give new ideas enough time to blossom.
  • Give new ideas a way to get funded.
  • Give new ideas the talent they require.
  • Give new ideas room to fail… and then evolve.
  • Give up on a new idea if it just don’t work.
  • Innovation happens out in the open—not behind closed doors.
  • Innovation is a team sport. Practice it regularly.
  • Innovation is messy.
  • Innovation is disruptive.
  • Real innovators get their hands dirty.
  • Being strategic is about stretching not sustaining.
  • Stake a claim in other parts of the scholarly enterprise.
  • Build a strategic culture, not a strategic plan.
  • Entrepreneurialism is a cultural imperative, not something that should only happen in small pockets of your organization.
  • Strive to change the profession.
  • Aim for epiphanies

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