Save the Date: National Library Unconference Day ’11




  • Save the date: May 2nd, 2011, 1pm EST. More info to follow this month.


  • At your library for a staff development day. Or an unconference for a regional library cooperative. Maybe something hosted at a state library? Or hosted by your state or regional library association. A great place to hold an uncon for National Library Unconference Day ’11 is at an LIS school. It’s totally up to you!



We’ll be streaming a free keynote session to all participating librarians, libraries and library organizations. Our confirmed speakers so far include:


  • Soon enough, we’ll have a link up for you to sign up your unconference to receive the FREE keynote lightning talks webinar. For now, mark your calendars, organize your group, and get ready to change the world. Once you sign up, we’re imaging you’d use a computer + a projector to screen the keynote to your local participants, then you’d get to your individual unconference. We’ll have a constant digital conversation on Twitter via hashtag #libuncon. And we’re hoping people share what they learned and accomplished via blog posts and youtube videos!

MARK THOSE CALENDARS NOW, and #makeithappen! signed, JP & the team.

What type of media belongs in a library? (or, Who Are We?)


I’ve been getting alot of questions lately: “what IS 8bitlibrary“?

6 months ago i would have said “it’s the gaming-in-libraries blog”! And I’m not, 6 months later, saying that statement is wrong. But we’re about a bigger issue, and that is: “we’re the #makeithappen blog“.

In libraries, #makeithappen is a taking new exciting ideas and seeing them through to the end. It’s the blog about all the really cool new stuff people are actually doing in libraries.

I had the opportunity to watch the Joaquim Phoenix movie I’m Still Here thanks to the Netflix instant queue. It was a great documentary about Joachim trying to become a Hip-Hop star. I won’t give spoilers, but the end, to say the least, “leaves you wondering”.

Tonight, again because of the Netflix Instant Queue on Xbox, I got to see the 1998 documentary Wrestling with Shadows, which ultimately chronicles the end of Bret Hitman Hart’s WWF career, with the Montreal Screwjob being the crux of the story. Everyone KNOWS wrestling is scripted, and the movie takes you through the process of how wrestling IS scripted. However, the end of the movie is the story of a script gone wrong, where the person who was supposed to win was “screwed”. In the 90s wrestling era, this was a defining moment of “OMG, wrestling can be REAL sometimes!!!”.

When the movie started, I felt that the fact that a documentary was being recorded at the convenient moment when the ultimate wrestling “real” outcome (vs the usual fake wrestling) was proof that even at the time wrestling was “real”, it was also an elaborate hoax.

I suggested to my wife that this would be a great program for a library (like a book discussion, but with movies instead of books). Show both movies and have people discuss the fictional and the factual elements of both, and maybe try to decide which told a better fictional but factual story.

My wife said “this doesn’t belong in libraries“. There’s lots of dicks, boobs, balls, sex, and drug use in the Joachim movie after all, and the wrestling movie was full of violence: everything we love to censor.

I thought back to all the books I have read since becoming a librarian. Lots worse violence. Way more sex and drug use. Much more graphic violence. They are making a MOVIE out of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, after all! As an aside, that book was set right in the same historical period as the Montreal Screwjob.

I said to myself: WHY is it ok to have certain forms of “inappropriate” expression in books but not movies? Why do we treat some forms of media as sacred, and other forms as dirty?

This, of course, is also what is about. We believe that storytelling media shouldn’t be judged just because it is presented in a certain media format and not another.

And so, I ask, how have libraries dealt with “controversial” content in one form of media that is less-controversial in other forms? We already know that some library board in the middle of nowhere decided to ban their library from showing the Michael Moore movie Sicko just because they didn’t agree with the argument the movie made. I’m sure they already own books that make similar arguments, and no one cares. Cranky Kong, Donkey Kong’s grandfather, would probably applaud their ban.

So, should libraries ban content in some formats and not others? And, do you feel like is just a “gaming blog”, or do you feel like we talk about gaming so much because we are touching on an issue that is really relevant to current libraries?

I wrote an article in January 2011′s School Library Journal along with contributor Beth Gallaway on the USA Supreme Court Case on First Amendment Rights and how they apply to video game content (vs, say, the same content in a Bugs Bunny cartoon). Same issue, different media format.

I would really love to get a convo going, either here, on twitter, or on facebook, about what you think!!!

Thanks for reading, true believers.



Gaming for Children with Special Needs: What to Play?


Chances are, if you made it to, then you’re well aware of the benefits of gaming, including the development and reinforcement of various cognitive, literacy, and social skills. So the question is, what are you going to do in 2011 to enhance gaming services in your community? Our suggestion is  expanding these programs to a new audience, and there is none better than children with special needs.

For complete information on the how and why of gaming for children with special needs, see the article from the December 2010 issue of School Library Journal, “Rated E for Everyone”. Then come back and check out this list of game recommendations and get a program started for this frequently under-served audience!

Card & Board Games

  • ThinkFun Zingo is a fun, fast-moving matching game similar to Bingo in which players try to match up their picture card with tiles that are revealed by pulling on a Zinger. The first player to fill his or her picture card wins. This game is great because it accommodates 2 to 8 players, keeps kids engaged, teaches image and vocabulary recognition, reading, matching, memory, concentration, and encourages social skills such as taking turns, following rules, and sharing.
  • I Spy Memory Game is a memory game, for 1-6 players, with riddles just like the I Spy book series, which can be played three different ways to accommodate younger and older players. This game helps young players to develop memory, reading, thinking and language skills, as well as important social skills such as taking turns, following rules, and sharing. Kids that enjoy reading I Spy books and playing I Spy computer games will enjoy this board game, which has simple rules, is easy to set up, and can be completed fairly quickly.
  • Jenga is a stacking game consisting of wooden blocks that are big and easy to grab.  This interactive, engaging, and tactile game teaches kids the importance of strategy and concentration, while improving dexterity and coordination. Jenga is great because the rules are simple, a game can be set up and completed fairly quickly, and requires only 1 or more to play.
  • Pictionary Card Game is a fun, fast-moving card game that is played in teams as small as two, which combines the fun of Pictionary and Charades. Players race to act out the clues using only the simple images on the cards by combining them, building scenes with them or using them as props. This interactive game is great because no drawing is required, is easy to play, and improves concentration, while fostering imagination, creativity, thinking skills, teamwork and cooperation.
  • Sequence for Kids is a fun, fast-moving sequence game, similar to Bingo in some ways that preps kids for strategic thinking as they anticipate their opponents’ next move. This game is great because it only requires 2 to 4 players, fosters social skills such as taking turns, following rules, and sharing, and builds matching, pattern recognition, counting, and literacy skills.

Video Games

  • Wii Active Life Outdoor Challenge is a fitness game that will get kids up and moving, similar to Nintendo’s Wii Fit, in which players are actively engaged in a variety of 16 fun, energetic, fast-paced mini-games such as river rafting, mine-cart adventure, log jumping, see-saw, jump rope, water trampoline, and many more.  Using a specially-designed eight pad Active Life mat, this game will help kids will improve their overall fitness level, sense of balance and coordination, eye-hand coordination, literacy skills (reading on-screen directions), as well as foster teamwork, cooperation, and social skills such as taking turns and sharing. (ESRB Rating: E for Everyone)
  • Wii Boom Blox Bash Party is the exciting sequel to Wii Boom Blox that challenges the players’ reflexes, dexterity, and problem-solving skills. Like the original Boom Blox, players use the Wii Remote to direct objects and forces toward structures made of blocks in order to knock them over. The Jenga-like gameplay requires players to pull out blocks, with the goal of toppling over as many blocks as possible, without bringing down the entire structure, and like Jenga, kids will learn strategy skills, improve dexterity, and observe physics in action.  Wii Boom Blox Bash Party is great for all ages, is easy to play, and features quick games that foster teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration. (ESRB Rating: E for Everyone)
  • Wii Just Dance 2 is the energizing sequel to Just Dance, featuring 45 songs that can be used in four different dance modes to help kids improve their overall coordination and physical fitness levels, build teamwork and social skills such as sharing and taking turns, and work on memory, pattern recognition and following instructions.  Basically, players hold a Wiimote in their right hand, and copy dance moves presented by an animated dancer presented on the screen. Just Dance 2 is suitable for tweens and teens, but if you have a younger audience, you may also want the very recently released Just Dance Kids (ESRB Rating: E for Everyone), which will contain more age-appropriate songs and lyrics targeted toward a younger age group, which also helps kids work on similar skills as noted for Just Dance 2. (ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+)
  • Wii Party is an interactive and engaging kid-friendly party game featuring 13 different party game modes and 70+ mini-games, which provide kids with lots of variety that includes cooperative and competitive gameplay that turns over quickly to keep the game moving. This game helps kids improve their eye-hand coordination, builds literacy skills (like Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, players can read on-screen instructions for help), and social skills (taking turns and sharing with other players).  (ESRB Rating: E for Everyone)
  • Wii Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party is the third Wii game in UBI Soft’s popular Rayman Raving Rabbids series, and features 60+ fun, quick minigames. The “rabbids” are bunny-like creatures who communicate by screaming and occasionally hitting each other with any object that comes into their hands. The rabbids have taken over the TV stations, broadcasting a series of nonsense shows in an effort to drive Rayman crazy. Players will discover new and innovative ways to play with eight types of gameplay, which will help them improve their sense of precision, dexterity, balance, and coordination, and reading written instructions to complete the mini-games will help kids improve their literacy skills. This game also fosters teamwork, cooperation, and social skills as kids practice taking turns and sharing.  (ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+)
    Game reviews by Peggy Wong, Children’s Services Librarian, Piscataway Public Library
    pwong AT lmxac DOT org



This is the second coolest thing I’ve ever posted on 8bitlibrary.

Somebody took a Guitar Hero guitar, hooked it up to a propane tank, and here it is. FireHero:

Here’s a link that leads to a how-to with photos of the construction process and more videos.

Most downloaded iPhone app Bubble Ball created at a public library


From John Kirriemuir over at his most excellent blog Use Libraries and Learn Stuff:

Where do you go to find help and information that enables you to make a game which is downloaded over two million times in two weeks, gets rave reviews and becomes more popular than Angry Birds?

When you are 14 years old.

The public library, of course. In this particular case, Spanish Fork Public Library in Utah.

ALA Comic Book & Graphic Novel Member Initiative Group: We did it, yo.


File this under #makeithappen.

We did it, yo.

As you know, (along with Robin Brenner of headed up a campaign to create an ALA Comic Book & Graphic Novel Member Initiative Group which would serve to unite all of the different “factions” within the Graphic-Novels-in-Libraries world.

Thanks to all of your help and support in getting the word out, we got all the signatures we needed and on Sunday January 9th 2011, the ALA’s Committee on Organization voted to make this group “official” in the ALA! John Chrastka of the ALA said I could announce the creation as “effective March 15th, 2011” so him, Robin & I, along with our ALA staff liaison Tina Coleman, could work out the deets.

I’ll add everyone who signed already into a list of people who want info on the group. If you didn’t sign but wanna be part of the group, just click here and send me an email using that form letting me know you want to be part of the group! Our first official meeting will be at ALA Annual 2011 in New Orleans, so please come out to that (as if you needed another reason to come to NOLA).

This is what happens when you cross comic books and @JustinLibrarian.

SO, what’s next for‘s #makeithappen initiative? At the ALA Mid-Winter meeting of the Games & Gaming MIG (which was attended by Brandon & I of team 8bit as well as a few members of the Emerging Leaders group on Video Games me & Justin are mentoring), we pretty much decided we’re going to move forward and turn the MIG into The ALA Games & Gaming Round Table. We’ll obviously keep you in the loop.

And one last thing: I’m running for ALA Council. You know I’m all about “make it happen” so I’d love if you gave me & my running mates a “thumbs up”:

Things I’m reading (January 13 2011)


Who Wins?  Playing Games With Kids takes a look at playing games and parenting.  What really blew my mind was the whole cooperative game play theme the entire post presents to the reader.  Gaming isn’t about winning…it’s about the experience, something that we here at 8BitLibrary have been saying for quite some time.

Download Free Kaplan Educational Textbooks for eReaders: As a teen librarian, how could I not be excited about this?  Sure, the teen has to have something to read eBooks on (which, from my experience, most do not) but in any case, this offer could help out some people in need.  Lasts through January 17, 2011.

Moss Rug: The living bathroom mat goes on sale File this under neato.  Basically, it’s a rug for your bathroom created out of moss.  The humidity from the air and the water drops from your shower/bathtub water the rug, and in turn, you get this really cool, organic feeling when you step out of the shower.

Buy India a Library


From the minds of Jan Holmquist (representing Denmark), Andromeda Yelton (representing the USA), and Ned Potter (representing the UK)…

Click here to go to the Buy India a Library blog!

…comes Buy India a Library, a project started by librarians to fund a library in India via Twitter.  Head on over to their blog for more information on the project and learn about how you can help them accomplish their awesome goal!

What an awesome project and a wonderful team.  I’ve been lucky to meet in person with Andromeda a few times and have many great discussions with Jan and Ned online.  Kudos to them for making it happen!

Who owns your digital downloads? (Hint: it’s not you)


Who owns your digital downloads? (Hint: it’s not you)

Click the link, read it, and explain to me how libraries (or, more importantly, WHY) libraries plan on overcoming this obstacle. Why not just drop the whole “libraries are places to loan out popular commercial materials” and focus on what’s really important: connecting people.


REVIEW: Super Mario All-Stars: Limited Edition


WHAT? To celebrate Mario’s 25th birthday, Nintendo has cobbled together this collection of Mario history.  The package includes a direct port of the Super Nintendo game Super Mario All Stars (which includes Super Mario Brothers 1-2-3 and the Lost Levels), a music CD of musical selections and sound FX from the Mario catalog, and a small book with Mario artwork and insight from the creators.

WHY? Libraries should be purchasing this game for the simple fact that it gives patrons who own the Nintendo Wii a chance to enjoy 4 wonderful games.  The only other way to get these games is to download them through the Wii shop channel.  The addition of a music CD and history booklet also adds to the appeal of this package and will give patrons a good example of the rich (and still greatly underappreciated IMHO) history of video games.

My biggest beef with this set is that IT COULD’VE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER.  Add Super Mario World into the mix as well as more cuts from Mario’s musical history and right there is a better package.  Oh well.  That’s just coming from a hardcore Mario fan like me.  Your patrons won’t notice the difference.

WHO? Anyone with a Wii and an interesting in discovering their video gaming roots should check this out.  It also might be a good purchase for educators looking to use Super Mario in the classroom (HINT HINT PLUG PLUG CLICK ME)

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