How can the library be the hub that brings people together across disciplines?

Scott Plutchak, Ph.D., Interm Director the edge of Chaos Innowatch Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, shares his thoughts.


One of the problems that we have in our university, and I think that this is the case in a lot of research institutions, is people get very focused on the projects they're working on. They're in their lab, or they're in their particular school or department, and those are the people they see and those are the people that they spend time with. Particularly in an institution like UAB, which is very research driven and very grant driven, you've got really, really bright people who are spending all of their time working on that next grant, working on that next project, and they don't have time to really get out of that space.

If you think about the role of a librarian in a large university, we know more people across the campus than anybody else because our job is to be out there. So we know when there's a sociologist who is working on a problem that somebody in neurology might be working on, and we can help make those connections.

My algorithm for innovation is that you need to figure out ways to bring people from different disciplines together and then see what happens.