On Monday I mentioned some of the ALA conference programs I wouldn’t be attending. The main reason? None of them sounded FUN, not even the one that guaranteed hilarity.
That’s a problem at librarian conferences and in libraries themselves. There’s just not enough FUN. Because of course the workplace should be FUN. If it’s not, then there’s something wrong with it.
Fortunately for librarians lucky enough to be attending ALA, we can find out all about FUN.
How’s this for FUN?
“Librarians Just Need to Have Fun: Utilizing Fun and Humor in the Library Workplace to Enhance Employee Performance”
At first glance this sounds great. It’s got that cheesy Cindi Lauper allusion in the title, for example. After that, things go downhill a bit. Even the allusion is wrong. Girls want to have fun. Once you start talking about needs, fun tends to wither a bit. I can have fun satisfying needs while enhancing performance, but not at the library. And what of the subtitle? Is fun ever associated with the word utilizing? I don’t think so.
So we want to utilize fun to “enhance employee performance.” Uh oh. This isn’t really about fun, is it? This administration really doesn’t care if I have fun or not, as long as my performance is enhanced. I guess “Utilizing Humor to Manipulate People into Doing More Work for You” just wasn’t as catchy. Or maybe that title was already used at the HR conference.
I’ll be curious to see if anyone speaking at this program is actually funny, or if their idea of FUN is plastic party favors distributed to people who work the longest hours. “Who needs a raise when we have FUN!”
The quest for librarian FUN doesn’t end there, though. We also have this one:
“Have Fun At The Library: Anyone Can Transform Their Workplace Culture And Get More Out Of Their Work”
This sounds more promising, doesn’t it? Anyone! That could even be me!
“When was the last time you had fun at work?” You know, I just can’t remember. It’s probably all the champagne my coworkers and I consume every day at library meetings. “Are you and your co-workers miserable?” Hmm. No, but I’ll read on.
“Having fun at work is a management phenomenon and employee outlook that has spawned much attention in the business world.”
That’s quite a sentence. So, having fun at work is a management phenomenon. Interesting. It’s almost as interesting as it being a employee outlook. I’m not sure what either means, though. Whatever it is, I feel better knowing it has “spawned” attention in the business world. If only these business types could write well, literate folks would read their books..
I’m really excited about these programs, because I want to test them against my own advice. Are you having FUN at work? Then you’re probably not doing much work. Work shouldn’t be drudgery, but neither should it be like a party. Too often, FUN or “fun” or something similar is introduced when the work itself is unpleasant. I have a better idea. Why not make work more pleasant?
Are you and your colleagues miserable? If so, I have some bad news for you. Absolutely nothing you learn in these programs is going to change anything. You probably have a toxic work environment. The very people making it toxic will be the same ones trying to implement FUN into the library. “You’ll do this, and you’ll have FUN! And if not, you’re fired!”
But I also have some good news for you. You can find another job. Really, you can, unless you’re a complete loser or totally unwilling to compromise on location and salary. There are jobs out there, and the most FUN jobs are not necessarily the best paying or the ones in the best libraries, whatever “best” might mean to you. If everyone is miserable, everyone should abandon that library and let the next suckers be miserable in your stead.
Of course, there are other ways to have FUN in a toxic work environment. Sabotage. Trickery. Undermining authority. In the right workplace, these can be great fun, indeed, especially if you can do them without getting caught.
You have an evil boss? Hack his email account and send emails out to the library board or the campus administration ridiculing them. For real fun, you could send threatening emails to the President of the United States from his work computer! Just be sure to wear gloves and not send them from your own account. Imagine the fun that will ensue as the Secret Service agents escort him from the building!
A plus-sized colleague making your life miserable at work? Strategically placed brownies containing a powerful laxative is a good option. Everyone knows librarians can’t resist chocolate! Better yet, leave them with a thank-you note from your evil boss, and wait for the fun! Maybe there’ll even be lawsuits!
A vile reference librarian bothering you? Whenever she’s on the desk, have a friend sit nearby with a clipboard pretend to observe her and take notes. If she asks what the person is doing, the response should be, “I’m not allowed to discuss that with you, but you will be informed eventually.” A few weeks of that will unnerve her.
There’s no end to the fun you can have with evil colleagues, and the great thing is that since they’re evil you don’t even have to feel bad about it. I can’t wait to see if the program ideas are as useful and easy to implement as mine are.