Cracking open creativity and info lit

Basket of eggs

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I recently made an omelet, but I am not a skilled flipper.  Though the resulting mess tasted fine (in my humble opinion), I told myself to try a frittata recipe next time.  What does this experience say about creativity and information literacy?

First of all information literacy involves constraints.  We define an information need (ACRL, 2000).  We set search limits.  We focus research topics.  Such constraints need not limit creativity: They can actually enhance it.  As Patricia Stokes (2006) notes, constraints clear away the clutter of less novel or less useful ideas, and then steer us toward more suitable options (p. 7).  In my case the constraint of unskilled flipping led me to the frittata idea.

Secondly building background knowledge is part of information literacy.  It is part of creativity as well. Musician/artist Larry Rivers used the term first choruses to describe the experiences we can draw upon (Stokes, 2006, p. 8).  To think of frittatas I had to know that they resembled omelets but did not require flipping.

Finally both information literacy and creativity involve appropriateness.  Most definitions of creativity mention not only novelty, but also appropriateness to the given situation  (Sternberg, 1999, p. 450).  Information literacy involves choosing appropriate information sources.  Though I read peer-reviewed journals, I would not look for frittata recipes in them.

These ideas are not new.  All the same will you think of brunch the same way again?


Association of College & Research Libraries. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Chicago, IL: Author.

Sternberg, R. (Ed.). (1999). Handbook of creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Stokes, P. D. (2006). Creativity from constraints: The psychology of breakthrough. New York, NY: Springer.