Sunday, June 5, 2011


I've heard differing views on the concept of fun: fun in work, "if it isn't fun why do it," work as play.  Richard K. Irish, in one of his books (either Go Hire Yourself an Employer or the earlier If Things Don't Improve, I May Ask You to Fire Me,) crtiticized the "fun ethic," of the youth of the time, looking upon those who wouldn't work at a job if it wasn't "fun."  Maybe fun is a by-product of engaging and fulfilling work and discovery and engagement with customers and colleagues.  And then I saw this post from 8bitlibrary which puts things in another context. (I like his ideas, or why not something like this?  (Maybe not the shoes.))

8bit is talking about a dance party at the ALA annual (where I will not be), but what about bringing movement and a relaxing and free atmosphere to the library setting?  Happy and confident librarians serving and engaging with patrons who feel welcome and that there's a good reason for them to come in the door, e.g. fun. 

I don't know.  I'm an academic who's worked in solitude for the most part (although not entirely, and I have a little public library experience.)  Dealing with citations, bibliographic databases, open access, current awareness (finished yawning yet?)  Finding information, especially in unexpected places, offering a solution to someone, I find exciting, sort of like Marianne Moore found baseball and writing exciting (although I have no idea, really,) and there's blogging and Twitter, which I find exciting (the best promotion of Twitter I've encountered in my recent memory is this one.)  Even these are tied to the computer.

How to initiate fun?  David Lee King has some great ideas here and here, particularly involving technology, space, staff and technology.  "You have visitors now," he asks in one of his slides, what kind of experience are they having?" Among his other suggestions are listening to the community rather than trying to sell them just what we have, involving conversation, participation and connecting through stories.

And Bohyun Kim talks about the "infectious library," asking us to "dream" of what that would look like.  Two of her suggestions include "libraries as tech shops," places where patrons can learn about new cool and useful tools; content collaboration with users in academic and other settings, which could be especially interesting for coursework and unique community resources and special collections. (All Bohyun's suggestions are great, but these first two seemed in sync with what I highlighted from David and the general topic of fun.)

So we can bring something to the table.  Our customers may know what their goals are but not how we can welcome and support them, why they would want to come to us.  We may not know that yet either.

And whatever I do, I will relax.  It's just librarianship.

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