I’ve been enjoying discussions we’ve had about creativity in libraries, and am interested in how this can be demonstrated to be of benefit in these more restricted financial times. I remember some years ago a question from management about ‘What would we see as a reward for good work? Outside of money …’. Initial reactions were dismissive, yet as the conversation continued lots of other motivators were identified – respect, consultation, flexible work hours, project space, student responsive goals, time for research and time to have fun.
Sometimes it can be hard to fit creativity or fun into a busy day, a library run on hierarchies or a branch limited by funds. However I’m sure everyone out there is doing something, even if it’s small. Our section has played with Kindles, EcoBook and as of next week an iPad for ebook reading.
Can you comment me what you’re doing?
I went looking online and found this article:
Michael Casey & Michael Stephens, “The Transparent Library Let’s All Lighten Up”, Library Journal, 2008, Vol. 133 Issue 13, p24
It talks about some quick, cheap ways to ensure fun continues in your library space, and calls on everyone to “Laugh. Explore. Play. Try new things. Give a little. Share a lot”. It also points out that fun can engage your library members as well as improve staff morale. A book launch in our children’s book section in our Education Library was a good example of this – we actually saw a large group children in that area exploring the collection together : – )
The above authors suggest http://bighugelabs.com/ Flickr fun site for jazzing up your signage. It’s got me thinking – there must be a genuine learning need I can use as an excuse to put signage on a dice shaped box …
Ilene F. Rockman, 2003, “Fun in the workplace”, Reference Services Review, v.31(2), pp.109-110
outlines themes you may have already experimented with:
- Sports tournaments (lawn bowling in the reserve room, miniature golf in the reference room, slalom book truck races in front of the library during intersession, shelving competitions in the book stacks).
- Dress-up-days (wonderful purple Wednesdays, library T-shirt day, “hat-o-ween” – rather than dressing in costume to celebrate Halloween, everyone wears a hat).
- Award ceremonies (Golden Shelf Award for the best example of returning books to the stacks in the shortest amount of time, Golden Mouse Award for outstanding contributions to computer customer service).
- Contests (“Messy desk contest”, judged by the “neat freaks” in the library, “Say the secret word” contest at the Circulation Desk where staff dress up in “Groucho” glasses and patrons win prizes for saying the “secret” word).
- Recreational activities (Friday afternoon concerts, or “sock hops”).
- Food-related events (“Chili cook-off competitions”, including an empty crock-pot for the “virtual” chili entry).
- Learn-at-lunch sessions (ballroom dancing lessons).
and handily [for me] sets them in an academic library context. Outside of UTS playing with games days and QR codes I haven’t read a lot about allowing fun in the academic library space, and I’d love to have some research to back up suggestions for MPOW. Lawn bowling in the reserve room is fantastic, aisles already set up there! Some of us did a run at messiest desks online through our twitterstream this year, post @malbooth and @flexnib showing off their pristine cleared desks virtually.
Ilene points out that “When we recognize the importance of humor, fun, teamwork, and camaraderie, we send a powerful message to our employees and patrons. We show that we value people, as well as the work” (p110). I think so many of our aims in the academic library world are focussed on preserving things, and whilst that is valuable in the end for some people, it would be good to bring some direct people focussed actions into our aims as well.