SLA 2009 Conference Round-up

Too often we get wrapped up in work and forget the joy of work. Stephen Abram challenged a group of librarians to incorporate playing into our work day at the conference session, “Play: Creative Tools for the Technical Librarian.” He said that he was almost 50 years old before he gave himself permission to unstructured play time at work. I was awed during the icebreaker, when the participants were each asked how they play or were creative in their lives. Some people had intriguing hobbies and interests, like writing poetry and playing music. Many people gave examples of playing with technology at work. Abram also had a show and tell of Dilbert dolls that he used during meetings to discuss difficult cross-departmental issues. Using a doll distances the speaker from sounding too confrontational, and frees the speaker’s voice to speak honestly.

We remembered how good recess was. Just 15 minutes of play and time to break free. Our session was interactive as groups had to break out and to describe a library with Lego pieces then build in a few minutes time. Some groups dropped to the floor right away! Others incorporated a colour into their concept. Abram was interested in both our outcomes, as well as the process of playing. Unlocking the positive energy did admittedly feel good.

In an individual exercises we also had crayons to storyboard or draw a comic about an positive interaction at work. Being librarians with a bias for words, some of the comics turned out to be a few stick men with many balloons clouds depicting conversation…more text-based than graphically oriented. I did not expect such an interactive session but, armed Play Dough and crayons, I left with a relaxed and refreshed attitude to incorporate unstructured free time to just let the creativity flow in my work life.


I love lists and here is both the shortened version of 100 Ways to be More Creative at Work July 3 post and the full version on The Heart of Innovation blog. Some tips are easy to incorporate into our daily busy lives, and can be used to unblock creative energy. We all have the potential to be creative within ourselves but we are too constrained by social norms to be mature.

– Brenda


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