I think the librarians at our local branch have been infected by the idea from TheFunTheory.com: that if you inject some fun into a drab but useful task you can alter the behavior of a community. Get more people to take the subway by turning the stairs into a piano keyboard, or make a park waste basket into a seemingly bottomless pit. Watch the videos, they’re fun.
Checking out books from the library is not particularly odious, but it isn’t as fun as actually finding the books, and it is rather tedious. Well, those crazy librarians over at the Sequoya Branch of the Madison Public Library must have watched those videos, because someone came up with a brilliant idea. The Sequoya Branch just got a brand new home, and included in it are self-checkout stations. They certainly do reduce the lines for getting out, but they’re not, well, fun. Their design, however, is internationalized enough that you can plug in different instruction language and pictures. Good modern software thinking, making it easier to be able to include Spanish or Hmong instructions, for instance.
So why not…Piratese? Sure enough, on Talk Like A Pirate Day, you could check out with pirate instructions, with things like “Argh!” instead of the usual Cancel button for instance. They either decided that went over well or just kept giggling and could stop themselves, because they’ve kept going. Of just the ones I’ve noticed (and I’ve probably missed a few):
- Silent Ninja, where “Please scan your card” becomes “Quick, while the staff isn’t looking, get the red light to scan your card!”, and “Please wait, do not move item” becomes “If you move the item now, you risk detection by the guards.”
- Zombie, where every other instruction is “WOIDFkidjwoefDijfe” or “Brainnnnsssssss”
- and (my personal favorite) Guided Meditation. It is enough to make me want to go there and check something, anything out.
- “Cancel/Clear/Go” buttons
- become “Deny/Cleanse/Progress”
- “Touch the on-screen numbers below to enter our PIN”
- becomes “Your PIN is your destiny”
- “Please wait while we retrieve your records”
- becomes “Just be”
- becomes “Dwell in the negative/The future is now”
- “Don’t move the item”
- becomes “This is the item you were born for”
- “Scanning, please wait”
- becomes “You are floating on a gentle sea”