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I am surrounded by negativity today. Not necessarily at work, but rather online. More specifically, I am surrounded by ideas for reducing negativity.

Just today, this announcement was made–The No Library Whining Zone: A Social Experiment. The idea is to refrain from public complaining in social media venues about anything library related–patrons, your own library, library organizations. You get the picture. I applaud the idea. The description of the experiment indicates that the “no whining” policy does not extend to whining to one’s own coworkers or other in-person whining. This experiment is meant to address online negativity only. Fair enough.

Also just today, a coworker posted this link in our office’s online social network community: How to Squash Negativity at Work. From the article: “Whether you’re trying to keep your own negative thoughts in check or manage someone else’s, it must be dealt with. Otherwise it’s like a virus that continues to spread throughout the entire organization, cripples the company culture and damages productivity.” I wholeheartedly agree. Negativity is poison.

Thanks to a suggestion in a post earlier this year from Dr. Steve Matthews at the 21st Century Library blog, I have been curating Web topics via Scoop.it that relate to libraries and work culture. Many of the articles that I’ve “scooped” relate to building a positive, productive work culture that does not support negativity. Easier said than done in my experience.

My question is this: Does homegrown negativity breed online negativity, or does online negativity exacerbate local negativity? Or both? In other words, will controlling one prevent the other? Probably not. And what does it say about the culture of libraries that we need an experiment to prohibit complaining?

If you read my blog regularly, then you know that I’m all about the culture of libraries. I firmly believe that the way libraries define and curate their own cultures is the key to our collective future. I suspect that others feel the same way.

I did not sign up for the No Library Whining Zone experiment, but I will be following the results. In my opinion, the greatest outcome would be for individual libraries and organizations to institute this idea not as an experiment, but as policy.

There is a fine line between useless complaining and constructive criticism. I welcome any initiative that can help to define the difference.