Posts tagged public library
Justin has really been killing it on here with his great posts on gaming programs, and I felt inspired to share an experience of my own.
In 2005, in my previous job as head of a public library children’s department, I had the opportunity to try out something that I suggest every public library at least try for a month, if not implement permanently. If you own a console, take out/open your TV, turn on the TV&console, and let your library users play the games all day. Whenever you are open.
The concept is simple: you allow books to be read and checked out all day. You allow your computers to be used all day. Same goes with other media; newspapers, magazines, etc… Your library spent a small but good amount of money on the console and the games, let your library users play with them! It doesn’t only have to be for programs. Similarly, open gaming doesn’t mean that you still won’t get a chance to run programs!
My experiences were very positive. I had multiple age groups constantly collaborating and sharing information in a way that is unique to the gaming medium. Users who would have in other circumstances had no reason to even speak to each other at the library are now sharing tips and becoming friends (oh, and hopefully talking trash on each other, :-p).
Open gaming also fosters a new way for libraries to include multiple age groups in activities. Public libraries traditionally segregate people based on age (“Children’s Room”, “Teen Room”, “Adult/Reference room”, in NJ we have a growing amount of libraries with “Senior Rooms” thanks to the work of Allen Kleiman et al.). I don’t think that there is anything wrong with age segregation in libraries; it HAS worked and CONTINUES to work for libraries. But there’s also nothing wrong with mixing everyone together, and in my experience with open gaming, this is THE BEST WAY to get every age group engaging / sharing information & experiences together.
In an open gaming situation (vs a set-times-for-gaming situation), I’ve found that parents/teens/seniors who otherwise wouldn’t have picked up a game are now having fun “playing” with kids/teens/parents/grandparents/babies. It’s really an amazing, unique-to-libraries experience to see a two-year-old kid playing video games with their grandparent and an 8-year-old kid they’ve never met. Where else could you see that same 8-year-old become friends with a 15-year-old? Or a 20-something couple walk in the library for a book and end up sharing a really good time with a bunch of teenagers they’ve never met before? And in a school library situation, you’ll see teachers and students engaging in a way they’ve probably never engaged before, and students will build friendships with students they may have never even met before.
Libraries aren’t only about information, they are also about valuable human experiences, and gaming is the best of both worlds: a modern information media as well as an all-ages platform for fun interaction.
You’ll notice I didn’t go over any “problems” you may run in to. It’s 2010 now and the idea of open gaming probably isn’t as “new” as it was in 2005, so I think it’ll probably be easier for you to try something like this in your library. There’s always 1,000,000 reasons not to do something; don’t let those reasons stop you from trying this. Let me know your experiences if you do this in your school / library!
“Modern board games offer a rich gaming experience with a strong focus on communication and personal interactions.”
ALA December 2008 “Games for learning”
Let’s not forget board games in the gaming and libraries movement!
Chris Harris (http://www.digitalreshift.org/) was a speaker at April 2009 “Gaming Extravaganza Day”, a Central Jersey Regional Cooperative program.
He gave an interesting presentation on board games for libraries, and modern board games used in school and public libraries. Chris used gaming research and he has linked the games he uses to the NY State curriculum standards, including math and social studies
Highlighted points from Chris:
Don’t buy “educational games”, but fun and complex games that use cooperation (rather than the greed based Monopoly type), and cross many different skills and subjects.
Hobby or game stores, or http://funagain.com stock them, and take purchase orders.
Much less $ into hardware and software than video gaming, all $ goes right into content.
Just print his “Board Games that Pwn” worksheet of game ideas-
HIVE 2 player, 20 mins, Age 6+
Looks simple, mimics classics like Go and Chess
PANDEMIC 2-4 players, 45 mins, Age 8+
Work to cure deadly diseases
Syracuse University -Associate Professor at the School of Information Studies. My research areas include the intersection of gaming and libraries and bibliomining, which is the measurement and evaluation of digital library services through bibliomining, or data mining for libraries
I LOVE following Boing Boing when it comes to gaming because they seem to find all the interesting games that happen to slip under the radar (Spelunky and Every Day The Same Dream come to mind). The excellent games on their lists focus on wonderful game play and problem solving, two elements that are KEY to gaming.
(via Boing Boing 01/292010)
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!