2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: The New Startup Garage for Innovation? Libraries!

Written by Megan Simpson | March 6, 2014

At SXSW 2014, Janie Hermann explains how libraries can create social good and local growth

Janie Hermann has worked in libraries for almost twenty years, in the areas of technology training, business outreach and research. Currently, she serves as Public Programming Librarian at the Princeton Public Library. She is always seeking new partnerships and ways to keep libraries relevant. This year at SXSW Interactive, Hermann will speak on the panel, “The New Startup Garage for Innovation? Libraries!” Check out this installment of the Session Spotlight to learn more.

SXSW: Why are libraries the new startup garage?
Hermann: Libraries as the epicenter of innovation, technology and economic recovery? You bet your assets they are! By finding creative ways to bring together techies, entrepreneurs, makers, and sometimes even angel investors, today’s libraries are able to inspire real life action that jumps off the page and into startup success. Find out how Princeton Public Library (NJ) is leveraging community collaborations with groups such as the Princeton Tech Meetup., Python Users Group in Princeton, the Princeton Chamber of Commerce and many more to create unique opportunities for social good and local growth. This conversation will challenge you to rethink the role of the library in your community and encourage you to explore how libraries can be a focal point of insights, ideas and innovation. If you have been seeking a "real world” social platform that has the ability to bring together a mix of thinkers, tinkerers, coders and investors the library just might be your answer!

SXSW: Have you spoken on this topic before?
Hermann: I have given presentations at a variety of library conferences and programs on topics such as innovation, community partnerships and outreach. I have been asked to speak at both the national, state and local level for my expertise in libraries and the important role they play in the community. I have not spoken on this topic directly.

SXSW: Who else is joining you for the session?
Hermann: I’ll be speaking with Venu Moola. He is an entrepreneur and the founder of Princeton Tech Meetup. As a team, I represent the library perspective and Venu represents the entrepreneur perspective.

SXSW: What types of people do you hope are in the audience for your panel?
Hermann: We envision that those in the midst of starting a new venture will want to attend as well as those interested in learning how they can create a similar collaboration in their own community. Everyone who attends will learn more about the important role that libraries can play in the creative process, technology education, and business outreach.

SXSW: In your opinion, why is speaking here in Austin at SXSW a big deal?
Hermann: This is my first time at SXSW and I am thrilled. It is a big deal for me as a librarian as it allows me to escape the "echo chamber" of the library world and library conferences where I normally speak and to spread the word to others about we have to offer. It is also a big deal as it is a competitive process and I am thrilled that the selection team saw the value in having a library-related session on the schedule.

SXSW: What types of sessions are you personally interested in attending while you’re at SXSW Interactive?
Hermann: I plan to take in sessions related to community building, UX, marketing (libraries need to up their marketing game especially when budget time comes around), social media (it is an important part of my job as I manage several social media accounts as part of a team at my library) and those related to books and authors. I am here as part of a larger group of professionals that work in libraries and related industries -- the sxswLAM crew (LAM=Libraries, Archives, and Musueums). We are wanting to spread the word about how libraries can help entrepreneurs, startups and techies. More information about this can be found at http://sxswlam.org/ and http://everylibrary.org/sxsw_showcasing_librarians_sxsw/.

SXSW: In your free time, what do you do to relax and unwind?
Hermann: This answer might not be too shocking, but I read - fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, etc. It is my greatest passion. I also love to downhill ski, hike, watch hockey and spend time with my son and husband (which usually involves a hockey rink). When I lived in Canada, I loved curling (both playing and watching). I still get to watch curling in the USA when the Olympics come around, but otherwise it is hard to find curling clubs.

SXSW: How can people connect with you or your library?
Hermann: My main twitter handle is @janieh and I tweet about libraries, technology, local events, and books. I tweet for work at @princetonpl where our tweets are centered on activities at the library, things pertaining to Princeton, NJ and books, reading, technology.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. For tips on interesting sessions to attend, visit the new Recommendation page. Register now to attend, “The New Startup Garage for Innovation? Libraries!” and other incredible programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.