The Playful Library: Building Environments for Learning and Creativity

This title will be available Fall 2024. You may place an order and the item will be shipped when it becomes available.

ALA Member
Item Number
ALA Editions

Primary tabs

You don't need to be an ALA Member to purchase from the ALA Store, but you'll be asked to create an online account/profile during the checkout to proceed. This Web Account is for both Members and non-Members. 

If you are Tax-Exempt, please verify that your account is currently set up as exempt before placing your order, as our new fulfillment center will need current documentation. Learn how to verify here.

  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the author

This book demonstrates the ways in which cultivating a sense of play in library work fosters flexibility, creativity, innovation, teamwork, and increased patron and community engagement.

Play is a state of mind, and a means to have fun, explore wild ideas, and get lost in “the flow.” Not only does play make library work more enjoyable and less stressful, it can also help us do our jobs better—while making the library a much more engaging and delightful presence in the community at large. Regardless of your age, background, or comfort level, you can use a playful mindset to jumpstart your organization’s initiatives, programs, and services. As you follow this book’s roadmap, you will

  • be introduced to the fundamentals of play, come to see why it remains so important even for adults, and get advice on overcoming some of the common obstacles that organizations face in incorporating play;
  • explore your own personal relationships with play, using reflection prompts in each chapter;
  • learn about dozens of examples of the many unexpected spaces where play can be found, encompassing public libraries, academic libraries, museums, and other settings;
  • understand how playfulness can be harnessed to improve learning, teaching, engagement, and assessment in a variety of different contexts;
  • read about the ins and outs of games in libraries, with profiles of several successful programs and game collections that will serve as inspirations for your own library or organization;
  • find out why low-risk, high-impact making activities and makerspaces can be powerful initiatives for libraries to expand their reach;
  • learn how libraries can work together with their constituents to build healthier and more welcoming communities, using play to reflect culture and history while honoring diversity; and
  • gain an appreciation for the power of “playing at work” to feel relaxed, keep flexible, and joyfully collaborate with your colleagues.

Introduction: Jumping Into Play

Chapter 1 What is Play?
Chapter 2 Where is Play
Chapter 3 Assessment & Teaching
Chapter 4 Health & Wellness  
Chapter 5 Playful Employees
Chapter 6 Games & Play
Chapter 7 Making culture
Chapter 8 Connecting Communities

Conclusion: Embracing the Unexpected
Appendix: Related Reading by Megan Lotts

Megan Lotts

Megan Lotts is the Art Librarian at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where she regularly embraces creativity when teaching research workshops, building collections, and facilitating programming and events across the New Brunswick campuses. She has presented her research on makerspaces, play, and the work of library liaisons both nationally and internationally and has published articles in Art Documentation, portal: the Libraries in Academia, College and Research Libraries News and more. She earned an MFA (2004) and MLIS (2007) from University of Wisconsin-Madison; and a BFA in Painting (2000) and BFA in Art History (2002) from the University of Illinois- Champaign-Urbana. She currently lives in New Brunswick, NJ where she continues to explore, make, and engage in daily activities involving creativity and play.