Creative Solutions and the Listening Ear

This week on Anita Silvey's always fascinating Book-a-Day Almanac, she explores the story behind Virginia Lee Burton's 1939 classic Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.  This childhood favorite was a constant check-out at the library for me. Each time I would find it in, I felt as if I had discovered golden treasure - again and again and again.

What did I find satisfying?  The elegant solution of an out-dated piece of machinery being re-purposed and finding a grand new life (along with Mike). Imagine then my delight in reading on Silvey's post that Burton had been given this ending by one her child's friends, Richard Berkenbush. So yes, so right, so powerful.

To put the frosting on the cake, though, Burton credited Berkenbush in her book and in a sense immortalized his creativity and contribution.

It made me reflect on how often do we put on our listening ear and really open ourselves up to input from stakeholders, co-workers, colleagues and friends. And when we pat ourselves on the back and say we do, do we also give credit to the person or people who contributed the idea that makes a plan work?

Creativity happens in large and small ways. Often many hands contribute.  When we listen, even - and perhaps especially - to the devil's advocate, and enfold ideas into our own to make a stronger end product, the contributions of all are important to be publicly celebrated.

Silvey's post about Burton makes me want to re-double my efforts to celebrate the creativity and contributions of those around me. I have always stood on the shoulders of those who came before me. I also stand on the shoulders of those who are coming behind me. The young librarians who are doing seminal and innovative work on early literacy, storytimes, picture book neighborhoods, STEAM, STEM, 1000 Books, room management wizardry, innovative programming for teens, special needs programming and services, outreach and all the ways this cohort is pushing the envelope up and out.

My listening ear is on and I am ready to shout out the names of those who are contributing to creating new ways to be marvelous. We can all do this with our co-workers and our colleagues. When we lift up one another by acknowledging and celebrating creativity and spreading the word, it is a truly worthy thing we do.

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