One thing they don’t prepare you for in library school is how bored you may become in your daily workflow as a librarian. After you’ve been in the profession, oh, a dozen years or so, and everything seems rote, that is when this boredom enters your life. If, however, you are scheduled at the reference desk for 7 of your 8 hours each day, read no further. This does not concern you. Just kidding, you ought to read it, too.
It’s rare that librarians become bored because we wear so many hats and pick up so much slack for everybody, that there is little time to be bored. Yet, I was super bored the other day and didn’t know what to do.
Normally, this is never a problem for me. I’ve spent my entire life vanquishing boredom. If I can read, I write. If I don’t have pen/paper/keyboard, I dream. If I can’t dream, I observe the natural beauty of nature. If I cannot observe, then I listen to lovely and not so lovely noises. If I cannot hear, then at least I can sniff my environment in wonderment and amuse myself that way. Seriously. Never. Bored. There’s too much in the world to capture one’s interest. And if you have a unbounded curiosity like mine, well, you’re all set.
Admittedly, I was bored. I’m between projects, or stages of projects, and getting over that hump, to the next stages, is tedious.
If you, dear librarian, are bored at work, here are a few suggestions of what to turn your attention to:
- Take a walk. Please. It will do you good to quit your environment, get your blood flowing, and breathe fresh air. That is, if you may leave your building. A walk inside the library is just as well. Pretend it’s your first time to the library. Does the signage make sense? Are the periodicals arranged intuitively? Consider all the things that you encounter on your interior walk as food for thought, or areas for improvement.
- Just breathe. If you’re chained to your desk, then you have a slew of problems I cannot address in this post alone, however, do breathe. In and out. In and out. Deep breaths. Good thoughts enter your body. Bad thoughts leave your body. Spend ten or so minutes a day concentrating on your breathing and you’ll be less bored. People who meditate are happier, at least, that’s what positive psychology research reveals.
- Chat up a colleague. Try. You may discover something about her/him that you never knew. Surely you can connect with them on some level? After all, you have librarianship–either your love, or hatred of it–in common. Discuss the possibility of collaborating on a project together.
- Join the conversation. What is it about unleashing your Yawp upon the world? Oh, wait. Here it is: I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world. From Whitman’s Song of myself. It’s so easy to sound your yawp these days. Most everyone has a blog, or four, at that. One way to stimulate yourself is to blog on library topics. First, read other blogs, so you know what the issues are. You don’t want to come late to the party on an issue; that’s my bag, baby. Fresh perspectives on library issues are always welcome.
- Give a tour. Yes, I’m back to getting you up out of your swiveling office chair and getting you to move around your library. At first, begin with a self-tour. Remember your basic themes in each room/area, and jot a script. Pretend you’re introducing your best friend, or favorite relative to the library–if they’ve never visited before. If you’re shy and retiring–stereotypes again, I know–don’t brush this off as a poor idea. Download Audacity. Read your script. Listen and make sure the sound quality is decent, and then you have instant podcast. Every library needs a tour (this is kind of lame, as an example of what not to do–this is better, but still boring and too lengthy). Kids love ’em. Parents love ’em. Be sure to make a few jokes, mention the ghosts in the corners, throw in a few popular culture references, and don’t forget to mention cubic feet of books/shelving/steel and all that. Some patrons really thrive on all those construction specs especially if you’re at a old school techy, not new skool techie institution.
- Turn cartwheels. The practice is cathartic. It frees your mind and spirit and injects a bit of whimsy into the staid library environment, especially if you’ve tied bells to your shoes as every librarian should (just a bit of whimsy, don’t grow alarmed. Nobody expects to see a librarian turn a cartwheel in the library and that is why you should do it. Or a round-off. I never got those. If you read my article about Zappos and investigated for yourself about how infectious, cool, and fun their workplace is, then you know that you have to do something a little unusual to get attention and to step onto the path of the long road ahead to creating a more fulfilling workplace. Zappos has parades and choreographed dancing. It’s almost line dancing, even. What do you have that lets you let off a little steam and get applause for? Cartwheels, I say!
Seriously, these ideas are not brain surgery, you can do them. Anyone could give you the same advice for banishing bordeom back to the broom closet where it belongs. I hope this helps, and I’ll look forward to hearing how you alleviate boredom at your library/workplace; if that’s a goal of yours.