Posts tagged librarian
Video Game Collection Development 101
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.
8BitLibrary is happy to have Kurt Schulitz on board as an 8BitLibrarian. Kurt works over at Library Journal/School Library Journal and is a pretty kick ass dude and PC Gamer.
The first PC gaming experience that I really remember was playing this game called Parsec on a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. I don’t even think I was 10 years old. My dad had aspirations of me learning how to really use the thing. Needless to say, I never did anything with that computer except obsessively play Parsec until it was taken away from me. Since then I’ve owned lots of PCs and gamed on them all. I currently own PS3 and have Call of Duty MW2 but find myself using the PS3 for NHL 10 and other sports games almost exclusively. Until consoles allow gamers to plug in and game with a keyboard and mouse (likely not happening anytime soon), I’ll always prefer playing my gaming genre of choice—first-person shooters (FPS)—on a PC. I need a mouse. Playing an FPS without one just doesn’t feel right to me otherwise.
Consoles and PCs both have their pros and cons when it comes to gaming, and most gamers regularly use both. That said, PC gamers often get the shaft—from bad console ports to games that aren’t even released for PC—and libraries unfortunately have a (forced) hand in marginalizing PC gaming now, too. A real gaming rig is not cheap. A decent video card costs easily as much as a console and will be considered outdated almost upon purchase. PC gaming has an uphill battle when it comes to having a machine with decent specs included in a library’s gaming arsenal.
Sure, libraries can have a great collection of computer games ready for checkout, but are there decent gaming rigs ready to be used? More than likely the answer is no for several reasons. First, obviously, it’s the cost. Even a marginal gaming rig built from scratch out of dated components will probably cost over $500, with the video card usually being the killer. For that amount of money, libraries could buy a console, accessories, and a bunch of games. With library budgets as tight as they are, high-end, in-library PC gaming doesn’t really stand much of a chance. In addition, the IT resources and time needed to keep up a gaming rig are far greater than that of a console. Xbox can give you the red ring of death, but gaming PCs face so many more issues. There also aren’t set standards for PC gaming. The same games can look noticeably different depending on the operating system they are running on. There are too many OSs capable of running the same game, and it isn’t precisely clear which one is actually the best performance-wise from game to game. Another blow against PC gaming in libraries is that it doesn’t allow more than one player at a time on the machine.
The only way PC gaming can be seriously included in the library gaming conversation rests on the passion of gaming librarians. It is up to individual librarians to find a way to incorporate PC gaming into their libraries. This means getting creative to work around the prohibitive cost and other barriers associated with gaming on a PC. Will resource-hog games and the latest and greatest releases need to be left out of the conversation? Probably, yes. The good news is that there are still plenty of incredible games that are cheap to buy and will run smoothly on older (i.e., cheaper) hardware, such as a decent 512mb video card and older Pentium 4 or Dual-Core processor. Games like Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4, Battlefield 2 and lots of other great games for instance don’t require a machine with mind-blowing specs.
Justin Hoenke invades Game Night at the Cape May County Library to ask the teens “How has Gaming changed the way you look at Libraries?”
Looks like we’re winning! :)
Have a great weekend from all of us at 8BitLibrary.
Reference Librarian Allen Kesinger is such an avid gamer, he has a Vault-Tec bobble head keeping watch over his cubicle. That alone was enough to make him my personal hero, but there’s another, even more important reason why I admire him: Kesinger brought gaming to the Newport Beach Public Library.
In early 2009, Kesinger went to his library’s board with a proposal for a pilot program to add games to the library’s collection. He had done his homework, checking out what other libraries were doing with gaming, and he made his case: gaming has a wide audience, and bringing games to the library would add value for patrons. Gaming’s not just for kids anymore – just ask Jack Davis, the 86 year old man who rolled 40 perfect games in Wii bowling.
The board gave Kesinger a $1,500 budget to get started, which he used to purchase 40 games for the top 3 platforms: PS3, Xbox360 and Wii. As the games could only be rented by patrons 18 and over, Kesinger included popular rated M games, basing his first purchases on his own personal collection. The games were an immediate hit, and now that the program has proven itself, the board has approved a budget increase, which Kesinger plans to invest mostly in Wii games, the library’s most popular titles.
In addition to lending games, the NBPL has hosted several gaming events. They held their first event in March of 2009 in honor of Teen Tech Week, and have since held another “study break” game night. Their next event will be an intergenerational game night, a “bring your parents” evening where old school games will have a place of honor right beside the newer titles.
Kesinger has big dreams for gaming at the NBPL. He hopes to grow the collection enough to earn its own shelf space, eventually adding PC and Nintendo DS games, and someday even making DS consoles available for check-out on weekends. He even imagines LAN parties on the library’s 30 internet access computers, with dozens of gamers settling in for an evening of WoW, Call of Duty or Left 4 Dead. I hope he makes it happen – because when he does, I will be there!
Here are a few of Kesinger’s tips for librarians looking to start a gaming program at their library:
- Talk to your staff – you might find some “closet” gamers who would be interested in helping and could make some great suggestions.
- Use online resources to build your proposal and your collection. The ESA’s website is a great source for statistics on gamers, which can be useful in your pitch to the powers that be. Websites like GameRankings.com can help you figure out what’s popular when the time comes to buy your first games.
- From a collection development standpoint, don’t be afraid to reach out to adult gamers with rated M titles – Kesinger has had great success with them.
- Use comment cards to gauge patrons’ reactions to your game program! Kesinger has had only positive feedback – and requests for more games!—and the comments help him continue to make his case to grow the program.
Allen Kesinger is a Reference Librarian at the Newport Beach Public Library, an SJSU MLIS grad, and an all-around standup guy. You can contact him at email@example.com. Thanks so much, Allen!
Do you know a library or librarian doing awesome stuff with gaming IRL? Let us know and we’ll spotlight them here on 8bitlibrary.com!
We are librarians and we are proud.
I was really influenced by Andy Woodworth’s AMAZING People for a Library Themed Ben and Jerry’s campaign in my idea for Project Brand Yourself a Librarian. There is just so much excitement with that project. It really showed me how much love libraries have from their public and just how dedicated librarians are to their career.
It’s really simple. If you’re up for it, let’s all get tattoos to show our support for libraries and librarians. We are who we are. We are librarians! Let’s show the world how proud we are!
Let’s do this at the ALA Annual Conference (June 24-29). If you’ve got ideas on a tattoo parlor, leave a comment. I’ll gladly be in charge of setting up an appointments for everyone (we should all go together).
1. DOESN’T IT HURT? Honestly, it’s not that bad. I myself am very scared of needles but I don’t mind getting tattoos. The worst part is the healing. WHY? It itches…
2. BUT IT’S FOREVER! Be proud to be a librarian! Do you think you’ll be leaving this profession? See, you won’t.
3. I’VE ALWAYS WANTED ONE…and this is a great chance to finally get one! Think about it! Who else can say that they got their tattoo with a bunch of librarians?
(my tattoo, 1 week after getting it. Healing mode. ——->)