Posts tagged media

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.


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?

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:

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.

Wikipedia & Gaming aka “5 Clicks to Jesus”


A few years ago, I was turned on to a fun little game that I wanted to share with you.

It is called “5 Clicks to Jesus” and the rules are simple:

ONLY use your mouse.

Go to the main Wikipedia page and click on “Random Article”. From there, using only the links within the Wikipedia articles, you have 5 mouse clicks to get to the Wikipedia article on Jesus.

I found it a bit too easy after playing for awhile. Additional rules, such as not being allowed to click on the articles for Years or Countries, will increase the difficulty.

The variation we liked to use is “5 clicks to Batman”. And getting to this guy doesn’t count:

The Jesus, from The Big Lebowski

Teachers & Librarians who prefer print encyclopedias over Wikipedia are ruining the fun for us gamers.

Feel free to share any 5 click paths that were especially fun or difficult with us in the comment box below!

#libgaming (Topic: June 16, 2010: Best of E3)


#libgaming will discuss the following topic today at 4pm EST on Twitter

How will E3′s announcements this week affect your future gaming-in-libraries decisions?

I understand that you may not have had time to keep up with the E3 announcements. You can catch up:’s Microsoft E3 presentation coverage,’s Nintendo E3 presentation highlights,’s full Sony E3 presentation video.

@8bitlibrary on Twitter tweeted highlights of all three press conference while they were happening, so be sure to follow us to stay up-to-date with the latest news in gaming.

And don’t worry, as our discussion reveals itself, much bigger issues than E3 2010 will be raised!

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.

Pokemon running around the library!


Hello, 8bitlibrarians! I’ve written so much about Pokemon in libraries that I have ignored how cool it is to see libraries actually using Pokemon! So here’s some fun Flickr finds:

Here are some youngins at a Pokemon card trade-off at Wilmette Public Library in Wilmette, Illinois.

Some older folks playing Pokemon at St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, Indiana.

Here is an eye catching awesome advertisement flyer for a Pokemon Rumble program at the Lester Public Library in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

Here we have a fun display of Pokemon manga at the Ridgedale Library in Monnetonka, Minnesota.

Some adults playing Pokemon Monopoly.

Here we have Gaming-in-Libraries guru and author of Gamers…in the Library?! The Why, What, and How of Videogame Tournaments for All Ages, Eli Neiburger, running a Pokemon event. Pulled off the American Library Association Flickr account!

Is your school or library including Pokemon? Let me know!


Grown up gaming w/ DSi XL


The new Nintendo DSi XL dropped on Sunday, March 28.

  • Larger screen size than the DSi, 93% larger than the DS lite
  • Two locking viewing angles
  • Speakers are louder and clearer
  • Longer stylus comes with system, also includes pen type stylus
  • DSIware games included, Brain Age Express Arts & Letters; Math
  • Top is glossy with a matte bottom
  • Larger size, weight seems same
  • Buttons all identical to DSi

Nintendo is hoping to gain an older gaming market with this system.   The larger screen size makes it easier to see, and the look and pen makes it seem less juvenile.  Sharing gaming experience could be better with this larger model.

Libraries could potentially have gaming with DSi XLs, perhaps attracting a different age crowd.  E-books are rumored to be released by DSIware– could be a player in the ebook market for libraries to be aware of.

Price point is $20 more than the DSi.   Comes in either Bronze or Burgundy color

If you have a DSi, you might wanna wait for the upgrades in the next version (DS2)…

Nintendo DSi XL game system

Nintendo DSi XL compared to DS Lite

Cnet review

Gaming in Schools & Libraries Conference


The “Women in Games” conference, canceled. TOTAL BUMMER. But that got me thinking…

click for the story on the cancellation...

While this idea is not original and ALA has hosted similar events, I still feel like the time is right for an annual Gaming in Libraries conference. There are so many issues to address: Collection Development, Literary elements of gaming, diversity issues, how gaming can be used as an advocacy tool, gaming & information literacy, gaming across the curriculum (and gaming as a teaching tool), gaming as way to boost circulating materials collections, gaming as a marketing tool, LoFi gaming (board & card games). There could also be lots of related technology elements: mobile phones & library service (make no mistake, foursquare is a game), implementing gaming into your Library 2.0 program (think Farmville), QR codes in schools & libraries (a scavenger hunt game), texting as a teaching tool. We could also expand it to Gaming in Schools & Libraries Conference, which would more than double the opportunities for both conference programs and attendance. The issues are there, and the thinkers/presenters are there. This would probably also be one of the more fun conferences around, because at its root, games are fun.

Here’s my questions: Is the time right? Would you attend? If your library didn’t sponsor your attendance, would you still be interested? How pumped would you be to play Xbox Live’s 1 v 100 with a roomful of teachers and librarians? (YOU KNOW we’d take top score)

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