Party Games at your library


Slideshare from presentation at NJLA10…


REVIEW: Picross 3D


WHAT?  Picross 3D is a sort of sequel to other handheld Nintendo Picross games (see here and here) which finds the user chipping away at numbered blocks in a puzzle like manner in order to reveal a picture.  It’s sort of part puzzle, part sudoku, part trinket collecting, and more.  And it’s really addictive

WHY? I gave this game a shot a few months ago and since then I’ve been thinking about it nonstop.  The simple puzzle mechanics of the game combined with the ability to work towards an end where you get something (hey, everyone loves a blocky dolphin) has got me hooked.  It takes just enough brainpower to keep the player learning and working towards a goal and at the same time saves just enough energy for fun.

WHO? I really think Picross 3D could be a gateway drug into video gaming for many non gamers.  When I play the game, I imagine it having the potential on a non gamer as say, something like Angry Birds has had on the world…something that sucks up time, is enjoyable, and requires some planning to play.  The game will require a tough sell though…”hey, you figure out puzzles by decoding numbered blocks and the prize you get is a blocky dolphin/dog/Nintendo character”.  I recommend talking up the game as an investment.  It is something that may seem clunky at first, but the potential for a rewarding experience are there.


What it’s all about


I know I’m preaching to the choir with this one, but it made my day so I thought I’d share.

As we’ve said before, games can bring people together.  This is beautiful.


Emerging Leaders present best practices for video game collection development


Emerging Leaders present best practices for video game collection development

Are you thinking about starting a video game collection for your library? Are you wondering how to take your video game collection to the next level? Join the 2011 ALA Emerging Leaders Team G for a poster presentation on video game collection development at the ALA Annual Conference on Friday, June 24, 2011 from 3:00pm – 4:00pm in Conference Center Room 271-273.

Team G, comprised of Erik Bobilin, Abby Johnson, Kate Kosturski, Jonathan Lu, and Nicole Pagowsky, will present information on issues and best practices when developing a video game collection, including Circulation & Access, Selection & Purchasing, Weeding, and an ideal MARC record. The team surveyed public, academic, and school libraries across the United States and Canada and spoke with experts in the field to find out what innovative ideas might change what we know about video game collections in libraries.

ALA’s Emerging Leaders program allows new professionals to gain experience and create personal networks within the American Library Association by working with a group on an assigned project.

For more information, check out the team’s website:


JP and I had the opportunity to work with the awesome Team G over the past six months on this program.  They’ve done some amazing work with this project that I hope you all will check out if you’re going to be at ALA 2011.

new tattoo



Getting your first 90 day layoff notice bites. There are so many things that run through your head, and sitting at the reference desk you certainly have enough time to think about them. It was during one of these self pitying “what do I do now” reference desk hours that I created the image. It was my way of saying we won’t be shushed, you can’t shut us up, we won’t stop protesting until all of our branches stay open. Then the whole thing went a little nuts, and all of a sudden I’d taught myself to screenprint, broken my mom’s dryer, andcovered the trees in my mom’s yard with tshirts. The We Will Not Be Shushed attitude and image hit a nerve with us at Queens Library, and we fought like crazy. We had 400 people show up at city hall, we stayed up all night reading in protest and we got most of our funding restored.

Now we’re facing it all again. The proposed cuts this year will bring us up to a 40% cut since 2009. Libraries in New York just can’t function with that kind of cut. But that’s ok, because our librarians are a scrappy bunch of punk ass book jockeys. We’re planning more and bigger advocacy events than last year, and we’ll get our damn funding back.

The process of getting said tattoo was kind of weird and very librariany. The artist who did it was into comics and had a passion for bad post-apocalyptic fiction, so I found myself doing readers advisory while in the chair. “You might like S.M. Stirling, ouch, Dies the Fire is really good in a sort of awful way, ouch.” A librarian’s job is never over.

Clearly, when I say we should be in a permanent state of advocacy I really mean it. I was lucky enough to create an image last year that people could be inspired by and rally around, and at least part of the reason I got the tattoo was to try to inspire myself again. To remind myself to fight for the people in our communities who can’t. To remember why we do all this. And because being a librarian has become part of who I am, and it’s going to stay that way.

Check us out at If you’re in New York on June 11th and 12th, check out the read-in. Sign all three petitions!
I’ll appreciate it, and I know that my coworkers and patrons will as well.



Thanks for the post Lauren!  FYI, Lauren originally accompanied the original Project Brand Yourself a Librarian group to Jinx Proof Tattoos in Washington, DC during ALA 2010 and was there for the initial branding!      -Justin

Gaming Can Make a Better World – Believe!


In gathering my resources for my presentation at NJLA Conference this year, I came across this awesome TED talk given by Jane McGonical, Director of Game Research and Developement at the Institute for the Future. She was one of the designers who worked on “I Love Bees“, the alternate reality game (ARG) to promote Halo 2, as well working on an independent basis to create ARGs designed to use game play “for good”.

BTW, she is also like my new gaming idol! (Don’t worry JP, you still definitely in the top ten!)

Anyway, she discussed the concept of connecting gaming and gameplay to real world problem solving. You can watch for yourself below, but she draws some very insightful and meanigful connections between the values, emotions, and experiences of the gamer and how those assets can be bridged to the real world in truly revolutionary ways. Put it this way, when she argues that if we want to solve the worlds problems we HAVE to spend more time gaming… she got my attention. That is a huge statement.

Hope you all find it as inspiring as I did and continue to remember that gaming has been, and continues to be, a much more rich, complex, and meaningful experience than stereotype and popular culture convey.

The Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow comes to the District Central Library Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg

Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow: Berlin, Germany (May 20-21)


The Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow comes to the District Central Library Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg

Another installment of the Zukunftswerkstatt Gaming Roadshow (which I posted about in the past here) happened over the last two days in Berlin, Germany.  I had the opportunity to once again talk via Skype with Christoph Deeg and the wonderful librarians who attended the program on Saturday morning.  I’ll turn the mic over to Christoph:

The gaming Roadshow is a great success! We had many participants. In addition to children and adolescents, and adults were also interested librarians from Berlin and Potsdam and the surrounding area as Fürstenwalde with it.

In the afternoon at 16:30 we had a special guest at the road show, we were visited by the Ambassador of the United States, Philip D. Murphy and his wife and a son. The ambassador did not want to just talk and see what we do so but he wanted to play above all. And thus he was or his family for a half hour of the Road Show.

US Ambassador Philip D. Murphy and Councilman Dr. Jan give Kinect a shot

Many thanks to Christoph and everyone else involved with Gaming Roadshow.  It’s always an amazing experience for me to talk to others about gaming.  I learn so much from you and I take that and do my best to translate what I’ve learned for my patrons here in Portland, ME.  If you haven’t checked out what Christoph and the Gaming Roadshow are doing, click on the link above (use Google Chrome and Google Translate for wonderful results!) and enjoy.

And to end, I can’t think of anything else more fitting:

Gaming! Love!


“What was the first story you experienced?” by Devin Burritt


Our guest post today comes from Devin Burritt, Associate Director at the Jackson Memorial Library in Tenants Harbor, ME.  I’ve had the chance to sit down with Devin a few times and talk about games and libraries and I come away from every conversation feeling so inspired.    -Justin


In library school I was often confronted with the question “what was the story that got you hooked on reading?”  I would look at them and rack my brain for a suitable white lie answer. There was the Brian Jacques Redwall series that I sort of remember spending Saturdays in bed reading. Or Hardy Boys when we moved in second grade. But these were what I read to pass the time; they did not instill a passion for literature in me. In fact, I left children’s literature behind around fourth or fifth grade when I started reading adult novels by popular fiction authors such as Michael Crichton and Dean Koontz.  Inevitably I would get an embarrassed face and tell my peers what I thought was the truth: I had just returned from two years in the Peace Corps where I lived without electricity so I read, a lot, and found that children’s and teen books were the most enjoyable way to pass the time.  I always felt guilty, that everyone else had a lifelong passion for books marketed towards children and teens, while I was relatively new to the game.
One day, as I turned my brain off and snuck into the black hole of time that is Facebook, I saw a post from Justin Hoenke:

Question: why do we ask people “What was the first book you read?” when instead it should be “What was the first story you experienced?” For me, it was Final Fantasy III for the Super Nintendo.

Epiphany. I didn’t hesitate as I had before; I immediately knew it was Final Fantasy VII for the PSX.  I played Final Fantasy VII with three of my best friends everyday in the summer between 8th and 9th grade in what can only be called a communal caffeine fueled storytime.  The story was the most compelling, and confusing, one I had ever seen in my young life.  When my PSX was out of the picture, I bought the PC version to play on my own. When my new copy of Windows XP wouldn’t play it in college, I found a hack that allowed for compatibility.  Ever since that summer I played other turn based RPGs with pure abandon, 8-12 hours at a time until the work week starts or it is completed.

This made for an easy transition when I, later in life, discovered kid lit. For those of you unfamiliar with old school turn based rpgs, most of the stories  were based on a hero with a humble background making an epic change in the world, –or an anti-hero–, while growing as a person themselves.  What better crossover is there than children’s and teen literature, where the protagonist often has low expectations placed on them, is put in a difficult situation and expected to rise to the challenge changing themselves, the community, or the world?

Videogames, not books,  got me hooked on stories.
Devin also just started a small video game collection at his library.  Awesome!

Are we looking at the past?

Wii 2 on the way? Don’t worry.


Rumor has it that the Wii 2 is on its way.  With reports of Wii system prices dropping to $169.99 at select retailers as well as other bundles of information flying off of the blogs of video game websites (“it’ll be fast!  it’ll have pretty graphics!  it is coming in June!) it’s easy to get caught up in the fever and think that this is the end of the Wii for you library collection and/or programming.

Are we looking at the past?

Well, don’t worry.

The Wii has a strong library of 968 games (as of December 2010) with more to be released in the near future.  The total number of systems that have been shipped is 84 million, making it Nintendo’s biggest home video game system to date.  Chances are that the people using your library will continue to use their Wii systems for their gaming entertainment for years to come, so providing them with games to enjoy is still a solid strategy for library video game collections.


When it comes to video game programming, I myself believe that you can’t go wrong with a Wii system and a library full of patrons.  Most, if not all, of the 4 player games for the system have an insanely high replay value which will keep players having fun.  The biggest complaint that will most likely come when the next generation Nintendo system is released is that the Wii is “old and that we want to play something new”.  What do I say to that?  I say give them options.  When the next generation of video games come around, libraries will have to invest the time and money into obtaining these systems and learning about them and what they offer our patrons.  But that doesn’t mean that we should just give up on the Wii.  Use it as you have always been using it for programs.  The games speak for themselves…they are enjoyable and full of entertainment, so let them do the talking.

Video Game Collection Development (UPDATE!)


Video Game Collection Development 101

Much thanks to Alex Lent for giving us the nudge to update this post!

1. Start small

I still stand by this idea 100%.  You don’t have to go for broke with your new collection.  I recently had a great conversation with Devin Burritt of the Jackson Memorial Library about starting up a video game collection.  He made it happen at his library recently and started off with a small collection of Wii titles aimed at all ages.  By keeping things small at the start, you will understand how your collection is being used by your patrons.  With this information, you can continue to build your collection and have it guided by patron input.  Which brings me to my second point…

2. Know your audience

Who will be playing these games?  Your patrons.  As fun as it is to buy video games, you have to put aside your personal preferences.  Sure, I really dug Elite Beat Agents but you know what?  My patrons didn’t.  It’s one of the few games that constantly stays on the shelves here at my library.  What did I learn from this?  Don’t trust my gut reaction when purchasing games.  Instead, TALK to your patrons when they’re browsing your game collection.  Notice what they’re checking out.  Heck, just simply ASK them what they want!

3. Plan ahead

You have to have a plan for your collection.  Are you going to collect games for systems that are no longer supported by companies?  Are you going to invest in the newest video game systems even though there is a chance they may not take off?  Once again, gauging your patrons interests is key to planning ahead.  At my library, we recently received a donation of Nintendo Gamecube and Playstation 1 and 2 games.  I decided to add them into the collection just to see what people would think.  It turns out that they circulate like mad and now I have people asking me to get a bigger selection of older titles.  I’ve even had to submit an interlibrary loan request for a title I couldn’t find in print anywhere.

4. Gamer’s Advisory

Over the past year, I’ve found the topic of what I’m calling Gamer’s Advisory key to making a video game collection work in your library.  Sure, you will most likely have a rabid set of patrons that will check out your games, but the collection only really starts to show its true worth when you can add recommendations (not just for other games, but for other materials and experiences the library can offer).  Keep the patrons coming back for more at the library.  Turn the avid gamers onto something that else that they may not have tried in the past.

5. It’s not just about lending physical items out

I’m a big fan of this topic.  Libraries are struggling to grasp how to circulate electronic materials in the library.  This is cause for some concern, but at the same time it opens up a new door for us.  Instead of lending out items, create experiences.  Give the patrons something they cannot get elsewhere.  I bring up the example of the local Portland, ME store The Fun Box Monster Emporium.  They’ve got a row of awesome pinball machines in their store that their customers can play.  Why can’t libraries do something like this?  Invest in some gaming tools that will give patrons gaming experiences that they can’t get everyday at the local video game store.  Personally, I want to buy a Pac Man arcade machine for my teen lounge.




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