Need conversation prompts for "getting to know you" work lunches
July 13, 2017 7:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm running a series of weekly brown bag lunch events that are loosely based on learning more about what everyone else in the library is working on (I work in an academic library). Last week was the first one and it was clear that I really need to have conversation prompts prepared. I asked what everyone's favorite thing about their job is; what else can I ask?
posted by rabbitrabbit to Work & Money (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
When I worked at Waldenbooks a million years ago, "The Book of Questions" flew off the shelves.
It's been updated and it still looks to be a good source of questions that really make you think, and also let you get to know those you are answering them with.
Have fun!
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 7:59 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Is what you're working on what you were trained to do, or did you migrate there from some other area/field? Is there any connection?

Who's a scholar whose work you admire and who you think others might enjoy knowing about?

A scholarly journal in your field ditto.

What project would you work on if you had more time?
posted by nohattip at 8:01 AM on July 13


Could there be some pre-watched/read material to start off with? Maybe something short that could be viewed before the lunch about something interesting going on in the field. It could be an interview, a blog post, a video, a topic brought up in an industry FB group, etc. Then you have something to base discussions around and people can bring their own relevant ideas and topics to the story. Another thing would be to bring in one person per lunch to talk about their job and some of the current challenges they are facing or questions they are dealing with. That gives the opportunity for cross-departmental brainstorming and interaction.
posted by LKWorking at 8:10 AM on July 13


What book are you reading/what's your favorite book/what book do you love to recommend/what book do you love to give to new parents

Basically, BOOOOOOKS
posted by cooker girl at 8:10 AM on July 13


Recent or future library acquisition you're most excited about, or last really great journal article you read?
Most useful non-book library resource?
What would you change about the way our library works, if you could?
Do you have any projects you want library patrons to know about?
Have you ever taught any workshops in the library? Would you like to? What would they be?

less serious: What's your favorite place in the library to hang out?
posted by dizziest at 8:11 AM on July 13


When we did something like this at my last job we focused on a piece of news or topic from our field (like discussing the latest report from our professional body or sending around a quick video in advance from another institution that someone found interesting). It helped to spark discussion without putting anyone on the spot. I've also been a part of regular meetings where people have to go around the table and say what they've been working on, and in my experience that makes some people feel uncomfortable particularly if their job is monotonous and they have to say "just cataloguing objects...like I was last week..." But YMMV!
posted by cpatterson at 8:23 AM on July 13


What's a challenge you recently came across in your job?

What are you most proud of?

How would you describe what you do/your current project to a child?

What would you do differently about your current project if it were up to you?

What are some challenges facing your project in terms of digitization?
posted by kevinbelt at 8:27 AM on July 13


What's the most/least interesting thing did you learn this week?
What was the most/least exciting thing about this week?
What was the most/least challenging thing about this week?

Basically: highs and lows of interesting factoids
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:33 AM on July 13


Give people the prompt in advance. If your library folk are anything like many other library folk I've worked with, a significant number of them will do better with conversation like this if they have a bit of time to think about that cool story / what book they want to talk about / etc. in advance.

Doesn't need to be a big deal, just something like "Reminder that we're meeting for the brown bag lunch. As a question to get us chatting, we're going to start with X..." email that morning/the day before.
posted by modernhypatia at 9:12 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I read on Metafilter recently that someone's dad asked them each night to talk about things they'd failed at that day. (It might have been on the blue?) I like it as a conversation prompt because failure isn't inherently bad. Failure can demonstrate perseverance, bravery, ambition, etc.

Talking about your favorite place in the library appeals to me.

Maybe ask people to share the best/hardest/funniest/etc patron request?

Ask people to talk about the worst book they picked up recently.

Funniest article title (mine is Oh shit, and it's about risk perception!)
posted by bilabial at 10:21 AM on July 13


Our university has started this thing called "Lightning Talks" where the person doing the talk only has 5 minutes to present some piece of their research/teaching/etc. Similar to a short TED talk sort of thing. How about asking for volunteers to do something like this, with assuring everyone it can be casual/informal. For a lunch meeting maybe 1-2 speakers per time, and then people can discuss.

Another interesting question I was asked at an academic ice breaker recently was "What's your dream project that you'd do if tenure/funding/disciplinary boundaries were no barrier?"
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:26 AM on July 13


How would you describe what you do/your current project to a child?

I work in tax and have a similar weekly thing. This question promises to be very funny.
posted by jpe at 3:34 PM on July 13


If you were given [$x] to improve our library, how would you spend it and why?

Which current library trends excite you the most?

Which current library trends worry you the most?

What was your best/worst patron interaction this week? (I guess this only works if these are reference/instruction/outreach librarians.)

What are your current professional development goals, and is there anything your colleagues can do to help you achieve them?
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 5:04 PM on July 13


How did you get into the field?
posted by Autumnheart at 7:49 PM on July 13


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