Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wanna Play?, On Integrating Play into Work

A black Labrador in "play stance." (Source.)

I read an interesting quote this weekend: “The opposite of play is not work – the opposite of play is depression.  Respecting our biologically programmed need for play can transform.” (Although it's not what I was reading at the time, this quote was taken from Dr. Stuart Brown's book, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul - a title I immediately added to my To Read list.) That quote got me thinking. It got me thinking about a lot of things, but about libraries and librarianship in particular.

The thing is, I already work to integrate play into how I serve my community. I have run social and fun events and added popular reading materials to collections. This is something I've been doing ever since I learned about need states. Libraries should not be joyless places where people only do work - not even the stuffiest, dustiest research libraries are well served by focusing solely on the academic needs of their community. That kind of exclusivity does nobody any good.

No... what I'm thinking about is how to integrate the idea of play being so essential into how I operate as a librarian and a manager. I feel like I'm already doing some things right. Anyone who follows me there knows that my Twitter feed is only about 25% librarianship and academia - the rest is a mixture of size acceptance, silly animals, and general things that made me smile/think/happy. And then there's my office... I have toys, goofy pictures, and much nerdery all around my small space. Further, I try to do fun things for/with my staff. I've brought/ordered food on multiple occasions, added fun activities to retreats/meetings, gave everyone holiday gifts, and I try to have the atmosphere be as fun and relaxing as possible while still moving forward with projects and such.

But I need to think on this some more. Bringing play into the work place can be such a powerful motivator, so I need to figure out a way to do this intentionally, both for myself and for my staff.

How about you? What do you do, if you're a management type? And the rest of you - what would be your ideal for bringing play into the work place?

1 comment:

  1. I too have been interested in bringing fun into the workplace, primarily as a strategy to cope with burnout, which is common to instruction librarians. I have had success with small gifts, friendly slinky competitions, and most recently sharing kudos in a creative way. You can read more here: http://ganski.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/is-your-bucket-full/