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More on violent video game U.S. Supreme Court case


Quote: Where do you stop? What about violent books, violent movies?

Supreme Court Justices Debate Video Game Ban


NY Times: Justices Debate Video Game Ban

Let’s make the connection between Banned Books Week  and this article.

“What’s a deviant violent video game?” asked Justice Antonin Scalia, who was the law’s most vocal opponent on Tuesday. “As opposed to what? A normal violent video game?”

“Some of the Grimm’s fairy tales are quite grim,” he added. “Are you going to ban them, too?”

“How is this any different,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked, “than what we said we don’t do in the First Amendment field in Stevens, where we said we don’t look at a category of speech and decide that some of it has low value?”

Justice Alito said the experience of playing a video game was different in kind from reading a book or seeing a movie. He described a game in which players throw their enemies into a meat grinder.

“Reading that is one thing,” he said. “Seeing it as graphically portrayed” is another thing.

“And doing it is still a third thing,” he added.

Where do you stand on content issues in new digital media?

Book Burning Video Game

Fighting Fire with Free Speech: Protest Book Burning on 9/11


In what is emerging as a series on “why I became a librarian”, here’s my next blog post. I started out this series, not realizing at first what it would become, by talking about the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books Week Machinima contest. As it turned out, there was a short depiction of book burning, in a video game, included in that post:

Denying people the right to freedom of speech via the burning of media is a pretty anti-American act. Libraries are constantly facing struggles in making sure that information, even information some people want to censor, is available to all.

That brings us to my 2nd post on “why I became a librarian”, and I credited a group of musicians as influencing my future career. You know who is another group of musicians who influenced many people? The Beatles. (this post happens to come on the 1-year anniversary of the release of the first Beatles video game)

How did they deal with this American opposition to their British music? They took the true ideals of America, staging protests and standing up for what is right:

And that brings us back to this post. In the most un-American way possible to remember 9/11, a pastor in Florida will burn copies of the Qu’ran.

In Chicago, the ALA will be staging a protest to this act.

Fighting Fire with Free Speech: ALA Will Protest Book Burning with 9/11 Qur’an Reading

“The librarians of America will not stand by and let ignorance rule,” says ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. “For every would-be book burner, there are thousands of readers who will speak out for the freedom to peaceably assemble and read whatever they choose.”
Book burning is the most insidious form of book banning, and just as the American Library Association is preparing to celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week, along comes one Rev. Terry Jones of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. The good reverend’s idea of world outreach is to commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 with a public burning of the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book.

The mind-boggling logic behind Jones’s plan has attracted the attention of Muslims and media around the world, and this morning, news sources reported that Gen. David Petraeus had personally pleaded with the reverend to restrain himself because of the potential for retaliatory violence against U.S. troops and citizens overseas that the book burning could provoke.

Meanwhile, the American Library Association and librarians across the country will move the Qur’an to the top of the Banned Books Week agenda. (Leading the way by modeling tolerance, an Oklahoma public library has been hosting an exhibit of artwork inspired by Muslim tradition.)

“Free people read freely,” says Barbara Jones, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. “That is a fundamental principle of the American Constitution and a basic mission of public libraries. We don’t burn books, we read them.”

Whether or not the Rev. Jones (who is no relation to ALA’s OIF director) proceeds with his plan, librarians and library advocates will assemble on the steps of the American Library Association headquarters in Chicago this Saturday at 1 p.m. for a public reading from the Qur’an to counteract the burning in Gainesville, and Banned Books Week will launch on September 25 with readings from the Qur’an.

Link to the ALA’s full post on the topic.


This is why we became librarians, folks. Let’s stand up for Freedom of Speech.

Amateur Video Game Composers


Coming off of yesterday’s post about the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom Machinima contest, I decided to talk more about using video games as a medium for creative expression. Yesterday I talked about video games & film, today, video games & music!


Chiptune is a genre of music where the composer and/or performer uses the sounds generated by “retro” video game or computer hardware as the instrument. Instead of playing a guitar or a trumpet or a violin, they play a Gameboy. Or a Commodore 64.

The phrase “8 bit” evokes a certain nostalgic emotion attached to video game culture, which is why the movie we linked to in yesterday’s post was titled 8-bit, why we’re called “The 8bitlibrary”, and where this collective of chiptune musicians get their name:


Before I was a librarian blogger, I was a video gamer. And as such, I got into this crazy genre of music called chiptune. The 8bitpeoples are a collective of musicians who use classic video game hardware to make music and then give it away free on the internet. I actually think they are at least part of the reason why I ended up becoming a librarian: the idea that information and expression should be free (including artistic expression) is one of the core principles of librarianship. The contest that spawned yesterday’s post, and inspired today’s, is thanks to the efforts of the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom in fact! is inspired a bit by them as well; while the “8 bit” in the name we took because of its nostalgic nature, and the “library” because of our love for Library Garden et al, the idea of “a collective of creative outside-the-box thinkers” in this field is at least partly inspired by the 8bitpeoples.

This is something librarians should seriously think about as we move forward: we aren’t book depositories. Even things like literacy are only part of what we do. Let’s take our inspiration from a variety of sources. Musicians. Chefs. Artists. I would love to see a wave of librarians who say “I became a librarian because of an example set by a musician“. I had a convo with Allen McGinley on our way down to #ALA10: he said he would love to see a librarian on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, not as a musician, but as a librarian. I ended up using that as one of my two goals for an exercise we did during an ALA Emerging Leaders event.

Anyway, enjoy some free Chiptune music via the 8bitpeoples:

one of my favorite Christmas Albums, ever:

The 8 Bits of Christmas - The 8bitpeoples

Who doesn’t love Axel F?

Banned Books Week ’10 Machinima


As the video game medium grows in cultural importance, it is natural that game players will want to use these communication tools (are they REALLY games?) in creative ways. A good friend of, filmmaker Justin Strawhand, released a documentary in 2006 titled (appropriately) 8 bit. The trailer for the movie, interestingly enough, includes a shot of an artist who used a video game to depict “book burning”, see if you can catch it about 1 minute in:

The largest movement towards “using video games as to make art” is called Machinima. When you make a Machinima, you record video game characters as your “actors”, the video game is your “set”, and you are the director. Machinima is so popular that the PR campaign for the upcoming game Halo: Reach include humorous machinima commercials using Halo as the tool to make the commercials. Here’s an example of machinima:

And that brings us to the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom’s contest:

Banned Books Week 2010: Second Life Machinima Contest

Calling all filmmakers! As part of our celebration of Banned Books Week (BBW) in Second Life this year, we’re inviting everyone to take part in our Banned Books Week Machinima Contest. Machinima is filmmaking within a real-time, 3-D virtual environment like Second Life.

Your inspiration for your machinima entry should be “Think For Yourself and Let Others Do the Same,” the theme for this year’s BBW campaign. Submissions will be accepted between August 22 and September 25, 2010. Participants can enter as many videos as they’d like. The grand prize winner will receive 10,000 Lindens; a BBW 2010 T-shirt; and their video featured on the OIF Blog and in AL Direct. For more information about the contest, including rules and specifications, please click here. For further questions regarding the contest, please contact Tina Coleman (AKA, Kay Tairov in Second Life) via e-mail at

You know will be participating! We will for sure be taking that little clip of a “video game book burning” as inspiration.

Please help us help the OIF spread the word about the contest by tweeting this link:

Tech Talk with Michael Sauers: Video Game Collection Development


On Wednesday August 25 2010,’s JP Porcaro will be presenting a webinar with host Michael Sauers (@msauers)!

It is presented by the Nebraska State Library Commission. All of the info and free registration can be found here:

NCompass Live: Tech Talk with Michael Sauers: Video Game Collection Development – Online Session

Michael will be talking with JP Porcaro, Virtual Services Librarian at New Jersey City University and founder of, about Video Game Collection Development and advocacy issues that all libraries deal with when implementing (or planning to implement) video games into library collections and services.

In this monthly feature of NCompass Live, the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Michael Sauers, will discuss the tech news of the month and share new and exciting tech for your library. There will also be plenty of time in each episode for you to ask your tech questions. So, bring your questions with you, or send them in ahead of time, and Michael will have your answers.

NCompass Live is broadcast live on Wednesdays, from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website.

Sessions are recorded for anyone who may want to see them again or who cannot attend them at the scheduled time. Registration is not required to view the archived recordings.

Simple & Easy Shared Library Ideas (via Infolink)


Mary Martin, director of the Long Hill Public Library in NJ recently did a poll on the listserv for Infolink, one of our regional library cooperatives in NJ, and the results were so good I had to share them with you readers! Hope you can pass these ideas on as well!

NJ has a truly great library community.

Simple & easy shared library ideas – August 2010

Ways to Engage Patrons
Front Desk Raffle
Run a fun contest at the circ desk every few months (e.g. get a quote from a book, display it and have patrons guess origin of quote. Those who guess correctly are entered into a drawing to win something simple (a gift card to Starbucks, DD, etc)

Raffle Ticket Inside Book
Variation of above, but put a “raffle” ticket inside books so people will be surprised when they find the ticket. (Bestsellers, hot movers, etc). The raffle ticket could even ask people for their opinion of the book.

Summer storytime

Does your town have a pool or a lake? There’s no law that says storytime must always be offered at the library. One library does a special storytime at the pool during the summer.

Book Bingo for the Whole Family

“Join us to play Bingo and win a book! All ages welcome, parents and grandparents too! No registration required.” All you need is some refreshments and some books as prizes (they use donated books so there is no cost aside from the refreshments). This has been very popular – the library who ran this had over 70 people in July.

Adult Summer Reading Program
A librarian writes: Based on this year’s water theme, we expended to the elements in general. We asked people to read a book or watch a DVD concerning the elements. We provided a list of suggestions to get them going. For each title, they fill out an entry slip for a drawing. We’ll do a drawing for some mugs at the end of August.

Teen summer reading program
At Long Hill we run both a teen and an adult summer reading program. For each book the patron reads or listens to, they fill out a raffle ticket. We draw winners weekly, and they win either a mug or a book (we use donated books as prizes). At the end of the summer we have one grand prize teen winner and one grand prize adult winner, each win a $25 gift card to Borders. We also offer the option for the patron to review the book, and we post their reviews on our library blog.

Storytime for Grownups

Because why should kids have all the fun?

Blind Date with a Book

In late January/early February, wrap up some books in brown paper, decorate with Valentine’s Day theme and encourage patrons to choose one to take home. Long Hill did this last year, it was fun and patrons enjoyed the opportunity to check out a book they might not otherwise have chosen.

Happy Holidays from the Library Staff!

Engage the staff by asking them to recommend holiday or winter themed books or DVDs. Then create a bookmark with their recommendations and give it out to library patrons.

Sharing Our Knowledge w/ Patrons
Staff Picks/May We Recommend?
Display backlist titles or staff picks that people may not have had a chance to read, at the front desk. You’d be surprised at how the staff picks fly off the desk. One caveat: pick books that are in good shape with interesting cover art. They are more likely to catch patrons’ interest.

If You Like cards in the stacks near popular authors

“If you like James Patterson you might also like….” these have been very popular at our library, I am happy to share the cards with anyone who wants to use and/or modify them.

Help patrons find their way around Nonfiction with shelf end cards that include not only the Dewey numbers but the subject patrons will find within that Dewey range – e.g 910.202 – 940.54 Geography, Travel, Ancient History or 600 – 618.24 Nutrition & diets, health & medicine

Recent Returns cart
In front of the circ desk, we have a cart where we put recently returned new books. We deliberately put the cart next to the book drop at the desk, because right after people drop off their old set of books is when they’re looking for new stuff to read. It cuts down on shelving, gives people a smaller section of books to browse.

“Bestsellers You Haven’t Read Yet”
Create a new section right next to New Fiction (or even use a folding bookcase or cart in front of the circ desk) with colorful books by big authors (Grisham, Roberts, Patterson, Picoult etc). You could even do a variation on the theme and do a “Best Books You Haven’t Heard Of” or a “Staff Picks” section. Assign someone to keep the display fresh and replenish it when necessary.

Get those oversized books circulating!
A librarian writes: “One thing we do is combine our browsing shelf with two lower shelves, and we choose a selection of oversized books there. Our oversized books tend not to go out as much as the other books, mainly because they are shelved separately. By showcasing them, not only do they go out, but people will go to the oversize shelves more than before.”

Oversized art books
One library I visited has a special set of shelving near the circ desk where they display oversized art books. As soon as they created this special section, the circulation of this type of book skyrocketed.

Summer Reading Lists
Make sure you have printouts of the local schools’ summer reading lists (both required, and recommended), and put them in binders. It may also be nice to post links to the reading lists on your library’s web site. We didn’t have the K – grade 5 recommended reading lists printed out until one of our staff members mentioned that she was getting a lot of requests for them. So I talked to the elementary school librarian and got the lists, then printed them & posted on our website.

Creative use of volunteers
Reading Buddies (teen volunteers)
Teen volunteers come in to read to little kids. Great all year round but especially during the summer when you have all those teens who want to volunteer

Computer Tutors (adult volunteers with computer skills)
Adult volunteers who have computer skills come to the library once a week at a set time, and help whoever comes in with their questions. It’s been very successful at Westwood Library and they’ve gotten great feedback from their patrons.
Another library described a similar program, PC Tutoring. They offer one-on-one computer tutoring to patrons twice a month, on several PC basics.

Better Communication with Patrons
Ask patrons for help in maintaining your collection
Patrons complaining about DVDs, audio CDs not working properly? You can create a simple slip asking patrons “Help us keep our collection in good repair” and including checkmarks where they can indicate what is wrong with the item. Then train staff to look for those checkmarks when an item is returned. And clean/repair item before it is reshelved.

Ask for what you need in your answering machine message
At Long Hill, we noticed that when people left messages for us at the front desk they usually failed to give us the info we needed (e.g. if it was a renewal) or they would be crystal clear in their message up until they told us their last name, which always ended up sounding like “Blarfengar.” So we changed our answering message to say “We’re sorry we missed your call. Please leave a message with your name, and please spell out your last name for us. Provide your phone number and your request. We’ll return your call as soon as we can.” This friendly message that clearly tells them what info we needed from them. It has cut down on the head-scratching we were doing when we checked our messages.

“You don’t have enough mysteries.”
One librarian writes: I met an elderly gentleman at a community event. He told me he stopped using our library because we didn’t have many mysteries. When I asked him for more details I learned that he thought the only mysteries we owned were on the New Book shelves. So now we have a sign on our New Mysteries shelves that says “We have over 7,500 mystery novels and many others available from other libraries at no charge…”

Cheap Advertising/Marketing
Use printable business cards to advertise services. For instance, if you want to promote Reference USA you can print business cards and hand them out to business patrons for them to file in their wallet, where they might actually have a chance of finding it when they need it.

Contact your local newspaper and find out if they have “community blogs.” Long Hill’s local newspaper encouraged us to start a blog with them. We use it to promote library events and what is interesting is that the newspaper staff read our blog, so occasionally they will print an article in the paper about the library even though we didn’t send them a press release – they just take the info from our blog.

At Long Hill we get BookPage book review magazine (for patrons) and we subscribe to the NextReads database (providing 21+ book related email newsletters people can sign up for.) When BookPage comes we put a sticker on it saying “Like what you read here? Sign up for NextReads for even more great recommendations.” To increase use of NextReads newsletters we also created easy sign up sheets and put them all around the library (including in our New Book binder) to encourage people to sign up. (We also use NextReads for our monthly children’s events email newsletter.)

Tax Forms
As you know the State of New Jersey stopped providing tax forms and instructional booklets this year. One of Long Hill’s staff members suggested we print out a couple copies of the instructional booklet, put them in binders and allow patrons to check them out for 7 days. This was a great way for us to serve the patrons

Easy Technology Tools
A librarian writes “We are a small library and only have 4 public Internet computers. We also have a large number of latchkey kids. This summer we decided to implement separate adult and juvenile usage times. Adults get their time on the computers from 10:30 to 12:30 and kids get their time from 2 to 4. Now we don’t have adults complaining about the noisy kids at the computers with them, and can guarantee that kids won’t be bothered by adults during their designated time period.”

Digital frame
You can get a cheap digital frame and put pictures from library events on it. Long Hill has this at our front desk. The kids especially are mesmerized by this – they look for themselves and their friends in the pictures.

National Gaming Day ’10 / HELP!




We’re happy to announce that libraries can now register for National Gaming Day 2010, which will take place on Saturday, November 13.

Registering will also get your location on the national map we’ll be promoting to both the public and the press. Does your library plan to participate in the national Rock Band and/or Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournaments? Be sure to register so we can work with you ahead of time to get everything in place and tested.

National Gaming Day needs your help!!!

Please visit this link for the full post. Help us help the gaming-in-libraries cause!

Hi, Everyone –

I’m happy to say that we have more international libraries signing up for National Gaming Day this year. Unfortunately, we can’t ship the free donation to them, but they still want to participate (hooray for international libraries!).

Right now, a foreign services librarian with the State Department named Elenita is working with libraries worldwide that are partnering with U.S. embassies. She’s asking for our help to give them ideas for games they can play on NGD (Saturday, November 13).

“I would like to suggest free games that they can find on the Internet to play on NGD. Do you know any paper-based games, such as crossword puzzles or word games for them to try? Anything that is low-tech or no-tech based is preferable. Many participants are learning English as a foreign language.”

Does anyone have suggestions to help with this? TIA!


Retro Gaming Day press release…


I got really excited when I got an email with an Retro Gaming Day press release in it! Big shouts to our own MaMcGinley & RedheadFangirl for setting this all up. Hope to see some of our readers at the event:

Saturday, September 11, 12 – 4 PM
The Retro Gaming Day
The first ever Retro Game Day will be conveniently located in central NJ at Piscataway Public Library!  Cool panel speakers on retro games, and open play on old school platforms like SNES, Gameboy, Xbox!  From Pac-Man to Mario to World of Warcraft, learn and play with the bloggers and librarians. See you there!

For more information, visit us at or email questions to Laverne at


Piscataway Public Library

Kennedy Branch

500 Hoes Ln, Piscataway, NJ

The Retro Gaming Festival


On September 11th, 2010, the East Coast’s contingent of the Crew will be hosting our first ever Retro Gaming Festival at the Kennedy Branch of the Piscataway NJ Public Library.

While we are still in the planning stages, we will sure to be having nostalgic game demos from some of our favorite video game consoles of all time, high-score competitions, discussions (including 8bitlibrary‘s own RedheadFangirl speaking on being a girl gamer from the 80s-today), D&D and Magic the Gathering Tournies, and “modern classics” like Guitar Hero 1.

What would you like to see at an event like that? Have you run a similar event and would like to share your favorite stories? Are you interested in making the trek out to Central Jersey and attending the event? Leave a comment in the box!

(and for out-of-towners serious about coming to the event, let’s work together on travel & housing arragements to hopefully make it possible for you)

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