Lego

There’s an activity doing the rounds in the library world at the moment called “Lego® Serious Play®”. I’ve never attended a session, so I’ll confess straight up that my opinions are uninformed. But it sounds like a silly idea. And I’m troubled by the promise that these workshops will teach you how to ‘leverage your organization’s expertise‘. Leveraging means speculating upon borrowed capital. Applying this vocabulary to libraries doesn’t help the fight against the creeping commodification our services and collections.

I was bought a couple of Lego fire-engine sets as a boy. I quickly lost half the pieces in our messy garden, so my fire engines turned into multiply-reconfigured robots and space rockets. That’s what I like about Lego, what the Lego® Serious Play® trainers have evidently appreciated, and what lay at the heart of the recent Lego Movie. Playing with Lego is simultaneously a programmatic activity and a profoundly organic one. There are rules, but you don’t have to follow them.

This tension is evidently creative, but the famously ethical Danish toy company have difficulty straddling the divide between Lord Business and Emmet Brickowski. For example, the Lego Star Wars “theme” now contains 188 sets, five video games and several films. Unlike the categorically simple sets I played with long ago, these Wookie Catamarans and Rebel Snowspeeders contain lots of specialist parts which make re-imaginative construction more difficult.

However, sceptic as I am of corporate intrusion, gamification, and Lego® Serious Play®, I still see synergies between Lego and librarianship. For one thing, Lego can help skewer some of wilder pretensions of our profession. So when you’ve a minute or twenty, take a look at this beautiful catalogue, where Lego pieces can be searched for by part, set, category, year of release, etc. There’s even a controlled vocabulary of colours.

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