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:

Librarians (*will be*) taking SXSW by Storm..


…with your awesome assistance…

We in the library <yawn> conference land can gain to learn from the unique panel proposal process at play over at SXSW, sure it takes some coordination and work, but man – does it ever get the community involved, and get people riled up for the conference MONTHS in advance.

Case in point: “They stopped coming?”: Librarians Don’t Cry They Re-View panel proposal

We don’t need to replay all the library X.0 cliches, but we can roughly agree that there are plenty of amazing and radical things about libraries that the public/industry/internet has forgotten about – or at least has slid out of the radar. So here’s an example of taking action in a variety of ways, including cross-pollinating info-related conferences/festivals on the kick-ass-librarian’s agenda. And being good information inseminators, we can bring back the good components to put into play within our own field.

So, go on, take a look at the proposal above – give it a vote if you like it, and toss in a comment about what you’d hope to see, and how you’d like to get involved (they don’t call it INTERACTIVE for nothing). While you’re there, poke around and see what other panel proposals strike your fancy….then we can start ruminating about getting a similar process going within libraryland conferences too – hmmm?

Sooooooo we did get a bit sassy with the write up. If you need some help deciphering, this may help: dating acronyms

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.

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

Image courtesy of screenshot gallery. (modified by me)

May I See Your RealID? (Part II)


As I commented in my previous post, (here) World of Warcraft’s new BattleNet RealID system allows for players to communicate with their fellow gamers all across the spectrum of “realms/servers”.  All you have to do is log in to your BattleNet account, and all of your virtual friends will know that you are online.

The purpose of this is to turn World of Warcraft into a type of game-based social network. If players create a single RealID username for themselves, they don’t have to remember several different character names for each of their friends. Much like Facebook or Friendster or MySpace, your identity is strictly that; it’s who you ARE.  You could even include your RealID on your business card if you don’t mind having your business associates find you in the PvP arenas! ;)

Image stolen from screenshot gallery. (then modified by me)

Many World of Warcraft players were greatly pleased by this new ID system.  It allowed players to keep track of their friends online, and provided a way for characters to communicate across servers.  There are, a few unfortunate consequences to having this kind of immediate accessibility.

At first, it was Blizzard’s plan to require the player to sign-in with their RealID on the Official World of Warcraft forums. This would allow people to recognize each other as they posted on the message boards.  This was generally accepted as a BAD idea.  Although many people are very civil and well-intentioned on the official forums, many others enjoy venting their grievances with great passion and reckless abandon. Having a RealID that could be used to trace the commenter back to the player, could have very negative consequences for some.  The anonymity in WoW is what allows some players to express themselves in a more unrestrained fashion.

From Penny Arcade, 7/9/10

So while some argue that the RealID system is a useful tool for preventing abuse on the forums, still others have argued that this is a privacy issue.  Some users can even discern issues related to the Freedom of Speech and the expectation of privacy in this system.  Shouldn’t players be free to speak what’s on their mind, regardless of the content? While we all hate trolls (no no, not this kind) and griefers, but don’t they have the right to spew their venom online too?

As it turns out, this a moot point. Not only has Blizzard kindly capitulated to the message board trolls, (your RealID name is not shown on the Forums now) they’ve also taken steps to ensure that the player is reasonably safeguarded from their personal information.

From the BattleNet FAQ:

Only the people that you add to your RealID friends list can see your name, and they ONLY see your name. They can’t track you down in that magical land we call “Real Life” unless you personally give them the information that they’d need to do that. Parents are also able to safeguard their children’s identities by using the BattleNet parental controls to lock their wee ones out of this feature. (as well as control the amount of time the kidlings spend on online, and other such things.

So while there was a brief blizzar– … er, snowstorm, of controversy surrounding the RealID system, it turns out to be much ado about little. Of course, the potential for drama is still there. There are doubtlessly still players who secretly play characters of an opposite faction from their regular Guild for a little good-natured competitive ganking, right? No seriously, watch this series. It's got  Felicia Day yumminess!

... or does that kind of thing just happen in fictional web series?

… and of course, there are certainly those who can probably track down their fellow gamers no matter how carefully you cover your tracks.  But the question is, where do we draw the line between privacy and socialization.  Do we necessarily want anyone else to be able to put a real-life name to our virtual identities? Does anyone really NEED to know that the sexy warlock Lachrymae of the Lordaeron Undercity is really just some pathetic librarian in a lame fedora? Am I personally willing to sacrifice privacy just to be able to find my friends online?

Perhaps World of Warcraft is a safe haven.  Maybe the protections and security there are solid.  But what about the other social media? Are we TOO connected? Can someone trace my Nintendo Mii back to … Me?  How much of my identity is my virtual identity? Am I more Craig, or more Lachrymae, or more whatever you’d call my XBox Live avatar? It’s been said that privacy is dead in our modern culture. That young people are not concerned with privacy, they want the spotlight. Thousands of self-indulgent YouTube videos would seem to bear this out, but the truth is more complicated, isn’t it?

Are we too involved? Have social media completely ensnared us in a web of connections that we can’t escape? How much of you is online for anyone to see? I’m looking for answers from YOU, faithful reader. Could I track you down in real life from your Facebook profile like some creepy stalker guy?  What is YOUR Real ID? ;)

Sky Blue at Piscataway Public Library World Cup Event 014

World Cup Programming in Libraries is a Win for the Whole Community


Sky Blue FC player looks on with Piscataway-area kids during the 2010 FIFA World Cup US-Algeria game on June 23.

On June 23, the Piscataway Public Library was cloaked in silence. Not the regular kind of library-silence. Silence, as people sat on the edge of their seats, hoping and praying. The silence suddenly erupted into yelling, clapping, and cheering. The U.S. had just scored a goal in the 91st minute to gain a victory that sent them into the next round of play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. But as far as I was concerned, the real win was for the community of Piscataway.

Coordinated by the director, James Keehbler, the Library hosted its first ever World Cup event. At around 9:30 am, I stood in the back of a room packed full of 60 plus jersey-clad people of all ages. The far end of the room featured a large movie theatre style screen displaying ESPN. There was a buzz of excitement in the air that this building just wasn’t quite accustomed to. Was I really in a public library?

In addition to screening the all-important group C match, the Library also arranged for the local women’s professional soccer team Sky Blue FC to join in the fun. Sitting with kids from the community, the team watched the drama unfold, and signed autographs for fans during halftime. During the break in play, I watched a young girl wearing an “O’Reilly” jersey talk to none other than Heather O’Reilly (two-time Olympic gold medalist and member of Sky Blue FC) and the full impact of this event really hit me. I don’t know what they were saying to each other, but I had a feeling the young soccer fan would not forget this day any time soon.

Piscataway is an incredibly diverse community, and the demographics have changed considerably in recent years. The room was packed with people young and old, and reflected a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. But on June 23, none of that seemed to matter. For one magical morning, regardless of where we were born, or what language we spoke at home, the only country on our mind was the United States of America.

#libgaming chat transcript from 6/9/2010


June 9, 2010 TOPIC: How can libraries get video game publishers more involved and interested in the video gaming in libraries movement?

9:44 AM 8bitlibrary: #libgaming today on Twitter at 4pmEST (here’s the topic!)

10:45 AM jlborgerding: RT @8bitlibrary: #libgaming today on Twitter at 4pmEST (here’s the topic!)

11:35 AM LibrarianJP Today at 4PMest is the #libgaming chat, but with everyone tweeting about the #FailWhale, I wonder how it’ll work out…

15:57 PM cranburypl: RT @8bitlibrary: #libgaming today on Twitter at 4pmEST (here’s the topic!)

15:58 PM baldwind1976:RT @8bitlibrary: #libgaming today on Twitter at 4pmEST (here’s the topic!)

16:01 PM infogdss29: Great prompt: #libgaming

16:03 PM infogdss29: We need a “best games for libraries” award and/or selection list, to encompass all types of games… #libgaming

16:03 PM infogdss29: … for video games, I envision something like BFYA #libgaming

16:04 PM nnschiller: #libgaming What do libraries have to offer game publishers? Marketing? Publicity? Eyeballs on their products?

16:04 PM LibrarianJP: KICKING OFF! RT @infogdss29: How can libraries get video game publishers more involved & interested in video-gaming-in-libraries? #libgaming

16:05 PM infogdss29: John Scalzo did a “bookmark” award in 2008, and editors choice in 2009 #libgaming

16:05 PM JustinLibrarian: @nnschiller #libgaming I think we’re like salespeople. We can really focus on their customers and let them experience their games

16:05 PM finksbrary: Thanks to @argn for the nice article about our summer project #libgaming #arg

16:06 PM JustinLibrarian: #libgaming This is my “call to arms” post on @8bitlibrary to publishers. I just want to light a fire under our ass

16:06 PM infogdss29: @nnschiller all of the above! #libgaming

16:07 PM GameCouch:RT @infogdss29 How can libraries get videogame publishers more involved and interested in the videogaming in libraries movement? #libgaming

16:07 PM JustinLibrarian:  
If libgaming the google group and @8bitlibrary did a best of video games award list, would that get something going? #libgaming

16:08 PM GameCouch: @infogdss29 game reviews in professional journals. #libgaming

16:08 PM kimberlyhirsh: Nintendo partnership info #libgaming

16:09 PM jlborgerding: RT @infogdss29: We need a “best games for libraries” award and/or selection list, to encompass all types of games… #libgaming

16:09 PM kimberlyhirsh: @JustinLibrarian I think it would certainly be a start. We might take the Cybil awards as a model. #libgaming

16:10 PM JustinLibrarian: #libgaming @kimberlyhirsh Thanks for the RT

16:10 PM nnschiller: @JustinLibrarian I’ll buy that. It goes w/ @doctorow ‘s argument “obscurity is a bigger problem than piracy.” #libgaming

16:10 PM JustinLibrarian: #libgaming I think we need to form a knife and gently put it to the throats of the publishers. WE’RE HERE FOLKS. WE LOVE YOU

16:11 PM jlborgerding: I think having an award and reviews in prof journals would get the word out gaming is serious in libraries and not a fad #libgaming

16:12 PM nnschiller: @JustinLibrarian Problem is, we may need them more than they need us. Uncomfortable position, that. #libgaming

16:12 PM kimberlyhirsh: Could we find a way to form a partnership w/EA? They’ve got an outreach program. #libgaming

16:13 PM nnschiller: @jlborgerding Hmmm, collecting worldcat data on games might do that too. #libgaming

16:13 PM steve_librarian: @infogdss29 @JustinLibrarian Also would be nice to have “Opening Day Collection” for games, for libraries looking to get started #libgaming

16:14 PM kimberlyhirsh: @steve_librarian Or a Core Collection #libgaming

16:14 PM LibrarianJP: More important than having these ideas on #libgaming is IMPLEMENTING them, & w that in mind, Ill be talking to publishers in next few months

16:14 pm kimberlyhirsh: Activision Corporate Citizenship|en_US|type:community #libgaming

16:14 PM jlborgerding: @nnschiller #libgaming It’s going to be hard, but we have to prove why they need libraries. Like why studios need libraries for film & audio

16:14 PM JustinLibrarian: @nnschiller You are onto something there my friend. We have to show them that they need us #libgaming

16:14 PM infogdss29: @JustinLibrarian sure – if the video game category is part of broader list for all types of games :) #libgaming

16:15 PM JustinLibrarian: @nnschiller It is much like the dilemma publishers/ebooks/libraries are having #libgaming

16:15 PM JustinLibrarian: #libgaming Look at this post by @librarythingtim on ebooks and libraries

16:16 PM LibrarianJP: (off #libgaming topic) hope to see you all the ALA Open Gaming!

16:16 PM JustinLibrarian: @infogdss29 Heck yes it would be! (sorry, I am so video game minded!) #libgaming

16:16 PM LibrarianJP: DRM/DLC is a big issue for game collections RT @JustinLibrarian: #libgaming Look at this post by @librarythingtim

16:16 PM JustinLibrarian: @steve_librarian It needs an update, but #libgaming

16:17 PM nnschiller: @JustinLibrarian Hmmm. One possible solution, circulating devices w/ digital content, like some dedicated audiobook players. #libgaming

16:17 PM infogdss29: @jlborgerding VOYA, SLJ, & Video Librarian review video games – who else can/should? #libgaming

16:18 PM jlborgerding: Of course who is going to attempt to create these partnerships? ALA? PLA? ACRL? Grassroots? #libgaming

16:19 PM Jessican_DC: RT @JustinLibrarian: #libgaming This is my call to arms post on @8bitlibrary to publishers.

16:20 PM JustinLibrarian: @nnschiller Nice! This would be beautiful. DS systems!

16:22 PM kimberlyhirsh: I think we need to approach publishers w/specific proposals. #libgaming

16:23 PM infogdss29: @LibrarianJP starting the conversation is a good idea – can you get more leverage by having a large organization behind you? #libgaming

16:23 PM JustinLibrarian: RT @kimberlyhirsh: I think we need to approach publishers w/specific proposals. #libgaming (agree. ONE VOICE! LET’S BE FRIENDS!)

16:23 PM nnschiller: @kimberlyhirsh #libgaming Yes! We should know exactly what we want before we ask for anything.

16:24 PM infogdss29: @JustinLibrarian you don’t have to apologize – I’m just thinking, let’s go big! :D #libgaming

16:24 PM JustinLibrarian: @infogdss29: @LibrarianJP Good point on the large organization. I think that’s where this community comes in. #libgaming

16:24 PM jlborgerding: I keep forgetting the #libgaming tag! :P Yep it’s a Hump Day.

16:26 PM jlborgerding: ACRL should review video games, but video games in academic libraries is still in infancy. :( #libgaming

16:27 PM kimberlyhirsh: Also might be better to approach industry groups for partnerships rather than individ. publishers #libgaming

16:28 PM infogdss29: @jlborgerding there’s a whole book on it :) and schools that offer game design seem like they’d have an edge on that #libgaming

16:28 PM nnschiller: @jlborgerding Perhaps a style-guide for academic game reviews? Placing ourselves on the review-criticism continuum? #libgaming

16:28 PM baldwind1976: @finksbrary Love the ARG concepts you all are running.. would love to do an ARG with our community #libgaming

16:28 PM nnschiller: #libgaming What do libraries need from publishers? What would benefit our users most?

16:29 PM GameCouch: @infogdss29 gaming in libraries could have its own standard professional journal (maybe under the auspices of the ALA) #libgaming

16:31 PM jlborgerding: @infogdss29 There are few books but I was thinking awards, reviews in journals, etc. LJ has a gaming column why not C&RL News? #libgaming

16:31 PM infogdss29: @GameCouch sure, if the MIG were to become a roundtable… hmmm #libgaming

16:31 PM JustinLibrarian: #libgaming I think @8bitlibrary and libgaming google group could be the keys to starting up a more professional review thing

16:32 PM jlborgerding: RT @GameCouch: Gaming in libraries could have its own standard professional journal (maybe under the auspices of the ALA) #libgaming

16:33 PM infogdss29: @JustinLibrarian that would give out awards, as well. #libgaming

16:33 PM JustinLibrarian: @infogdss29 @GameCouch YES YES YES YES YES YES! Roundtable!

16:34 PM JustinLibrarian: #libgaming My idea: I’d love to have ALA on board for the full run but while we pursue them, let’s just do it. Have SOMETHING running!

16:34 PM JustinLibrarian: @infogdss29 Yes, we need to give out awards! #libgaming

16:35 PM infogdss29: @jlborgerding LJ’s Games, Gaming & Gamers by @lizdanforth is all-encompassing #libgaming

16:36 PM jlborgerding: #libgaming Give out an award at the ALA Open Gaming (with the after-party at the ALA Dance Party).

16:37 PM infogdss29: @JustinLibrarian actually, that was my thought when I started the google group :) #libgaming

16:37 PM infogdss29: @JustinLibrarian It could be digital… #libgaming

16:37 PM kimberlyhirsh: Seems to me we’re looking at different actions: 1) Specific projects in libraries 2) Awards 3) Scholarly publishing #libgaming

16:38 PM JustinLibrarian: @infogdss29 We partner with love and respect. @8bitlibrary for a common goal! #libgaming

16:38 PM jlborgerding @infogdss29 I follow her on Twitter and have her blog bookmarked, but the RSS feed is messed up and I can’t get it in my reader. #libgaming

16:40 PM infogdss29: @kimberlyhirsh I wonder if there are publisher grant opportunities, like LBP is doing w/ MacArthur #libgaming

16:41 PM kimberlyhirsh: @infogdss29 There’s the ESA Foundation and Nintendo partnerships. I didn’t find much else in a quick search. #libgaming

16:42 PM infogdss29: @snicholson @infomancy RT @JustinLibrarian @infogdss29 @GameCouch YES YES YES YES YES YES! Roundtable!

16:47 PM JustinLibrarian #libgaming Sorry to run, but I’m so out of steam that I’ll start babbling soon and not make much sense. Love you all hearts and good stuff

16:48 PM infogdss29: I’d like to see publishers at ALA, or even local ones at state conferences, but maybe they don’t recoup the investment? #libgaming

16:49 PM jlborgerding: @infogdss29 #libgaming Or goes back to the argument that they don’t have a need for libraries. Just have to show them why they need us.

16:50 PM nnschiller: @infogdss29 Agreed, but I wonder if the ALA vendor floor isn’t waning in influence. #libgaming

16:50 PM infogdss29: publishers could also help underwrite costs of a revived Gamers Learning & Libraries conference #libgaming

16:50 PM JustinLibrarian: @jlborgerding Thank you for the chat! We’ll always be back…

16:51 PM nnschiller: @jlborgerding Right. I think a good first step is gathering data on what we need from them and what they need from us. #libgaming

16:53 PM researchquest: @nnschiller what do they need from us? does our role increase or decrease as the console generation ages? #libgaming

16:55 PM jlborgerding: @researchquest I think it increases. The console gamers are still going to want their games even as they get older. #libgaming

16:55 PM nnschiller: @researchquest Libraries can provide access to gamers, a market for sales, and an infrastructure for an emerging media. #libgaming

16:56 PM researchquest: @nnschiller regardless of introducing new tech to people (Natal), whatever our role is gathering data is never a bad thing. #libgaming

16:56 PM  mrabey: @infogdss29 Doesn’t Comic-Con have big gaming presence? And that happens usually right around same time as ALA–thus no gaming pubs @ ALA

16:58 PM jlborgerding: RT @nnschiller: Libraries can provide access to gamers, a market for sales, and an infrastructure for an emerging media. #libgaming

16:59 PM researchquest: @nnschiller @jlborgerding I agree with your thoughts we have multiple roles. Roles that depend more on our users than their tech #libgaming

17:03 PM jlborgerding: #libgaming Thanks for the chat this week. It was great. I’ll see everyone in 2 weeks! (at a conference next week). Go gamers! :)

17:04 PM ulotrichous: Sorry to miss #libgaming today, but here’s my 2¢: Focus on Marketers and PR firms, not publishers or devs. Most don’t do their PR in-house.

17:06 PM infogdss29: @ulotrichous thanks, eli, that’s an inaluable tip #libgaming

17:26 PM infogdss29: @mrabey ah, didn’t think of that angle! thanks #libgaming

22:00 PM Jessican_DC: @JustinLibrarian I missed most of the #libgaming during my commute. Can you tell me more about the google group?

22:11 PM infogdss29: @mrabey oh, that’s an excellent point! but these are BIG companies with BIG revenue…. #libgaming

June 10

13:22 PM infogdss29: @Jessican_DC – forum for discussing all types of games, in all types of libraries :)

Digital Distribution for Libraries


This post was originally going to be a review of the Rock Band Network/Rock Band Music Store for Xbox 360. Since the start of, JustinLibrarian and I have sweated over the answer to this question: how can libraries develop a successful video game collection when so many new games are reliant on DLC (which Nintendo, Sony, AND Microsoft have all set up as closed distribution systems completely controlled by them). How can a library, which has a goal of circulating media, circulate content so closed and controlled that it is impossible to use by anyone except the person who purchased it?

File this under “We don’t have all the answers.

And, of course, librarians across the country are wrestling with this same question, albeit for other forms of media. How can we distribute digital music when iTunes (& to a lesser extent, Amazon and the like) have already taken away our ability to do that? While there are some very expensive (and, in my opinion, very clunky and not-iTunes-like) vendor-controlled options such as Overdrive, Naxos Music, & Freegal, this is just a “patch” that we have while we, as a library community, decide to either get serious about digital distribution or continue to tread water.

A current trending topic of concern in libraries is eBook distribution. How can we loan an eBook on an eBook reader if that content is closed and controlled by a large corporation?

Along that “we don’t have all the answers” line, I decided to go to an expert on the topic, Mr. Libraryman Michael Porter. He has wrestled with the larger distribution issue, just as we are on the smaller (albiet still gigantic) issue of game content distribution. So I asked him,

  • How do you feel libraries will be distributing digital media in 2015?

He gave this well-reasoned response:

I imagine two most likely scenarios with little gray in between the potential outcomes.  For both, the lynchpin is either succeeding or failing to develop a new electronic content access and distribution infrastructure via libraries.  If we can develop that new infrastructure and make it a truly effective, competitive, well used and well liked place for people to get what they want, when they want it, in the format they want it *through the library*, then our future will be more secure and on-target than ever before.  If we fail to do this though, libraries will fade in use, funding and relevance.  This would eventually lead to the demise of the library as the hub of content access and community engagement and turn many of those functions over to for profit business and institutions that have mission statement tied to profit rather than the health and wisdom of the community and country they serve.

This is a call to action for all of us. We shouldn’t just wait for a vendor to develop a platform for us. We shouldn’t let something as simple as a library’s ability to loan a book be taken away by corporations in the digital age. We need to raise this issue. If we want libraries to continue to exist, we need to let go of our comfort and get on the front lines of this issue.

So there is no confusion, I am not anti-corporation, per se. Corporations can be our partners in it the future. And, so my last words will be positive, we can do it.

Thanks go out to Michael Porter from us at Check out his Library 101 project, if you haven’t yet.

8bitlibrary around town


Hey all, wanted to share some updates with you about what our contributors are doing in libraries and beyond:

  • Justin Hoenke was on Good Day Maine last week promoting the new Portland ME Public Library’s Teen library program. You can watch the video here.
  • JP Porcaro just wrote an article for School Library Journal titled The Pokemon Generation which you you can read in its entirety here.
  • Craig Anderson‘s article titled Why Nobody Plays Second Life has lead to a two-part guest post on the Library Journal “Games, Gamers & Gaming” blog. You can read Nobody Plays Second Life (part one) and Nobody Plays Second Life (part two) at those respective links.
  • Today is contributor, 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and creator of #andypoll Andy Woodworth‘s birthday. Happy Birthday, dude!
  • We’d like to welcome some new contributors: Eli Neiburger, author of Gamers…in the Library?! The Why, What, and How of Videogame Tournaments for All Ages, High School Librarian Buffy Hamilton, of the Unquiet Library, Brandon Robbins, who has already posted lots of great video game reviews here on the 8bitlibrary, Harvard University librarian Tom Bruno (aka @oodja on twitter), and Stevens Institute of Technology librarian Valerie Forrestal. Welcome to everyone and glad to have you aboard.
  • RedheadFangirl Laverne Mann got to meet graphic novel superstar writers the Luna Brothers. How cool is that?!

Hope everyone has a fun week! JP


Playing (with your) Music


When we think of music games, we usually think of the  Dance Dance Revolution, Rock Band, and Guitar Hero franchises.  These games have been staples of library gaming programs for almost as long as there have been library gaming programs.  They all have tremendous social benefits: DDR was getting gamers off the couch long before Nintendo ever put the Balance Board under our feet, and the Rock Band and Guitar Hero series’ have brought music, gaming, and even role-play together while promoting both classic and indie rock.

There’s a problem with these games, however.  They’ve gone stale.  DDR all but died out after Guitar Hero caught fire, and neither Guitar Hero nor Rock Band have offered much of anything new in their most recent incarnations.  True, both Activision and EA have offered new music for download that gamers can use with their respective franchises, but that’s about it.  This is great for casual gamers who just want to hang out and enjoy some music while experiencing some degree of interaction, but hardcore gamers (such as myself) have moved on.

True, with a library gaming program, you’ll always have patrons who have never played a music game before; there will always be an audience for anything.  But what about your most enthusiastic gamers?  What do you do when the teenage boys who crash the doors get tired of Rock Band?

Why, you expand, of course!  There are some music games out there that offer the same boons as the more familiar series’ but serve up some fresh game play.

DJ Hero

DJ Hero was released late last year.  It received generous reviews,but was something of a commercial flop.  This has led to Activision, the game’s publisher, being less than supportive when it comes to downloadable content.  It’s a shame, really, that this game didn’t get set any sales records; that means there are a good number of gamers missing out on a great experience.  Instead of a guitar or drum kit, gamers get a controller shaped as a DJ turntable.  The basic game play is the same: press the colored buttons in time with the on-screen display.  However, the techniques that DJs use–scratching, sampling, crossfading, and rewinding–are thrown in to spice things up and encourage gamers to get creative.  Noticeably more difficult, but also packed with much more personality, than any previous music games, DJ Hero makes incredible demands on a gamer’s dexterity and situational awareness, requiring almost as much raw skill as the most intense shooters.  Of course, there are multiple difficulty levels and game play modes (including one that uses a guitar controller for some DJ/guitarist duets), so there’s no need for novice gamers to be intimidated.  One thing I really like about this game is its music selection: the soundtrack is comprised of mash-ups of popular songs spanning numerous decades and genres.  It’s available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Playstation 2.  It might be a bit pricey, but imagine a DJ battle at your next library gaming event.


This is a game that is just plain fun no matter how you look at it.  Like the great video games of the past, it is inherently simple, rewards success while allowing for massive failure, has a clearly-defined goal, and–despite its repetitive nature–never gets old.

Developed independently by Dylan Fitterer, Audiosurf uses your music collection to render its levels.  You select the song from your hard drive or external storage device (it supports any non-DRM protected format), and from that song the game engine will create an obstacle course.  You then pilot a ship down that obstacle course, avoiding gray blocks while picking up colored ones.  As the music intensifies, so does the obstacle course: gray blocks are more frequent, while colored blocks are worth more points.  There are multiple ships to choose from over three different difficulty levels, and the game comes with some tracks, should you find your digital music collection lacking.

Audiosurf is available for PC either through the Steam online marketplace.  If you want it on multiple computers, you’ll need multiple Steam accounts (which are themselves free) and buy a copy for each account.

Beat Hazard

If Audiosurf is inherently simple and approachable, Beat Hazard is one for the hardcore crowd.  An intense experience in both difficulty and presentation, Beat Hazard shares many of the same features as Audiosurft–including using the music from your digital collection to render its levels–and thus many of the same social benefits.  Except where Audiosurft is a delightful experience in discovering music, Beat Hazard is a brutal test of skill, timing, and coordination.

As with Audiosurf, the more intense the music, the more intense the difficulty.  Norwegian black metal will generate a more difficult game play experience than easy listening.  However, the difficulty seems to revved up all over the board in this game; you would think The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love” wouldn’t be that intense of a song, but it produced a tricky level in Beat Hazard.

Beat Hazard’s main differentiation from Audiosurf is that it’s not a racing game, but a twin-stick shooter (also called an arena shooter).  I highly recommend a wired Xbox 360 controller for this game (you can hook it up via USB to your PC) as it’s built for this kind of game play.  You use one joystick to move a spaceship through the 2D space while you shoot with the other stick, the ship shooting in whatever direction you aim.  This makes it possible to move and shoot in two different directions–handy when you’re weaving in and out through waves of enemies.  If an enemy touches you, you lose a life; lose all of your lives, and it’s game over.  You’re given two screen-clearing bombs to help even the odds, and you can earn additional lives and bombs.

Also different in Audiosurf is an XP (experience points) system.  You earn XP for shooting down enemy spacecraft and pulling off high-risk moves; you earn bonus points for surviving for an entire song.  Accumulating enough XP will unlock rewards to help you accumulate even more XP.

Beat Hazard is presented with incredibly good graphics; strobe effects, huge explosions, and starships that fill the screen couple with your own music to create some truly memorable gaming moments.  A recent update to the game gives gamers the option of removing the strobe effects so that people sensitive to such can still play and enjoy this game.  It’s available through Steam, so the same DRM apply to it as do Audiosurf.

So what now?

You’ve downloaded Audiosurf and Beat Hazard to a few gaming PCs in your library, and you’re all set for a DJ battle in your multipurpose room.  Use this opportunity to reach out to your teens.  Set up a display of books on music, famous musicians, careers in the music industry, and fiction relating to DJ and rock star culture.  Load some classical music onto the PCs that have Audiosurf and Beat Hazard to show the participants just how intense (and how much like popular music) classical music is.  And don’t forget the opportunities for social interaction and inter-generational gaming.  It’s easy to imagine teens trying to outdo each other with this game, playing the same songs and trying to rack up higher scores–or challenging each other to their own favorite music.  Allow adults to bring in the music they enjoyed as youth and compare the kind of stages the oldies and classic rock render compared to today’s pop hits.

These games, especially Audiosurf and Beat Hazard, are a great way to demonstrate how gaming helps us interact with our favorite works of art on a more personal level: I really liked the Black Crowes, DragonForce, Metallica, the Smashing Pumpkins, Slipknot, and Dinosaur Jr. before, but I really like them now, as they are tied to my favorite hobby, and I’ve visualized their music in a real, interactive way.  I can’t help but listen to a new song without imagining what its Audiosurf or Beat Hazard level would be like.  The chance to experience music in an interactive way, and thus discover a new appreciation for it, was one of the things gamers praised about Rock Band and Guitar Hero, except for now they’re not limited to what EA or Activision is able to get a licensing deal with; any music they own can be used in the game.  It’s mind-blowing at just how much musical education and appreciation can be launched with these games.

Of course, you’ll want to be careful with ripping music to the computer for in-game use; it’s easy to break copyright law, so delete any songs from your hard drive that are not taken from CDs owned by the library after your program to stay on the safe side of the law.

And by the way, don’t get rid of your DDR, Rock Band, and Guitar Hero collections.  You can never have too many games, and you can never have too much music.

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