“How do you have time to do all of that?!” is a question people frequently ask me in reference to all the Library 2.0 toys I love to show and tell to anyone who will listen.   My sincere response is, “It’s easy because it feels like play, not work!”

I have been mulling the brilliant and inventive Helen Blowers’ December 2008 presentation on “Libraries, Learning, and Play” and her earlier call in 2007 to make “play” your New Year’s resolution.   When I think of the verb “play”, I associate that word with fun, creativity, and joy.  Blowers adeptly shows us to equate learning with play—for me, it is through play that I discover something new that energizes me as a librarian and as a human.  Play fuels my passion as a school librarian.   As David Lee King points out, play is the key to keeping up and staying ahead of the changes that are happening in the ever shifting information landscape.

When I first started my career as an educator, I encountered my own set of challenges and stresses, but most of the time, I felt as though I was having fun.  For many educators, the pressures and stresses associated with No Child Left Behind—the emphasis on quantitative evidence, standardized testing, and conformity–have stolen the joy and some of the freedom to play from our classrooms and yes, even our libraries at times.

How do we get that joy back?    I believe the answer lies in play.  The presentation, embedded below, speaks for itself, and it has me thinking about four major questions for myself and for you as my peers.  I encourage you to watch and reflect on Blowers’ presentation; then, please consider the questions below.

1.  What is my commitment to engaging in play and learning every day?  How can daily play make me a better librarian?  Are you willing to play?  Are we willing to be a lifelong learners, to let go of our fears and to just play independently and with others?

2.  How do I create playful (and by playful, I do not mean the dreaded “edu-tainment” term) authentic learning experiences, formal and informal, for the students and teachers in my media center?  How do I work and collaborate with teachers to create meaningful research projects that feel like joyful fun for students?  What do we need in our toy box to help our students engage in play and to seek knowledge with creativity and enthusiasm?  What solutions will I find and remix to create bubbles of learning?

3.  What does play look and feel like in your library right now?  What is your vision for play in your media center 3 months from now?  6 months from now?  A year from now?

4.  Blowers poses this important question:  Are we bursting bubbles of learning or blowing and creating bubbles of learning in our library programs?

If you are just starting your personal learning network or “playground”, consider the School Library Journal Learning 2.0 “All Together Now” self-paced program as a starting point for your play as a “NowGen” librarian. Use these tools to engage in independent exploratory play as well as collaborative networked play with others.  Our GLMA blog is another rich playground for inspiration and ideas as well.

Let us make 2009 the year of “Play” to help us be agents of change and innovation in our learning communities and create “play” opportunities for our students!

Buffy Hamilton, Ed.S.
Creekview High School