When libraries offer gaming programs, there’s often a very favorable response, but how do you go about getting started? You’ll need to know which games are the best, how to attract gamers, and so much more. There are many tips, resources, and tools that will help you figure out everything you need to know. Instead of contacting someone who has completed a game design program, we’ve profiled them here.
Follow these tips for a fun and smooth-running gaming experience in your library.
- Offer games that require research: Games that offer research as a main part of game play, whether it’s in hard copy books, wikis, or all over the Internet, are valuable library learning tools.
- Use games that support curriculum: Introduce games that support a theme, such as Ticket to Ride for train travel, and the Wii’s Trauma Center for medicine.
- Consider classic games: Bringing classic games to the library offers something most patrons can’t find at home. They are often found fairly cheap or donated.
- Thoughts on Gaming: This article offers some invaluable thoughts on gaming use.
- Keep your collection up to date: Although expensive, this practice will ensure that your patrons keep coming back to enjoy the latest video games out there.
- Leave room for alternate players: If you’re holding a tournament, allow alternate players because there will always be someone who cancels or is late.
- Offering just one game is acceptable: You don’t have to house an overwhelming collection, or have tournaments for five games at once. Even just one universally appealing game event is enough to get started.
- Create zones: Keep the library a quiet and productive space while still having fun by creating separate zones for gaming.
- Get parents involved: Discuss the value of gaming with parents, and you’ll have an easier time getting kids to attend events. You may even have parents join in themselves.
- Play age-appropriate games: Make sure that the games you’re playing are at a friendly level for everyone, or restrict entry for specific games.
- Require a library card: Make it easier for gamers to make the next step to checking out materials by requiring that they have a library card before allowing them to play library games.
- Use a projector screen: To encourage groups and offer something most players don’t get at home, put video games up on a projector screen.
- Encourage gamers to bring their own titles: An easy way to broaden your gaming event library is by asking attendees to bring in their favorite games to share.
- Play the games yourself: Get a better understanding of the appeal of games by enjoying them either with your staff or alongside your patrons.
- Shift your funding: Find the resources to fund gaming in the library by examining low-circulating or unpopular areas in your library’s collection.
- Invest in quality equipment: If you’re going to regularly offer gaming, be sure to use equipment that can stand up to heavy use.
- Don’t forget adults: Library games and gaming events are often directed at teens, but keep in mind that many adults love to game, too.
- Recruit volunteers: Many gamers in your community will be happy to help instruct, lend games, or just bring snacks to promote gaming in your library.
- Provide a collection as well as events: Don’t just keep game play within the library’s walls on specific nights – build a collection that patrons can check out, and they’ll keep coming back for more.
- Ask gaming companies for help: Work with video game publishers to make games available for free in your library. Many will realize that game events are excellent forums for >marketing their games.
- Use permission slips: Keep track of the group you’ll be gaming with, and get a parental stamp of approval with permission slips.
- Position yourself as a guide: Gamers will respect you more if you present yourself as a strategy guide for the game, rather than a gatekeeper.
- In tournaments, allow for exhibition rounds: Increase participation by allowing players who are not advancing to the next round to play one more time just for fun.
- Promote other library events: While you have gamers within your doors, be sure to let them know about other events the library offers, even if they’re not game related.
- Offer board games and video games at the same time: Running dual events will allow gamers to jump from one activity to the other and cut down on boredom.
- Use theft prevention measures: Video games are an appealing target for theft, so be sure to use security measures like magnetic strips both on the games and their instruction booklets.
- Set up a mobile gaming unit: Although most gaming communities are online, think about bringing gaming to community events, and you’ll be able to attract more gamers for events inside the library.
- Place books and media cleverly: While gamers are waiting for their turn at the game, make sure that you have plenty of appealing titles close at hand for them to pick up and take home.
- Add gaming strategy guides to your collection: If you add books that offer strategies and other resources to gamers, they’ll get checked out.
- Let your staff play: Break down resistance to gaming by getting your staff involved and having fun with gaming.
- Play games that require collaboration: Get everyone involved when you play games that focus on collaboration and teamwork.
- Be prepared for opposition: Not everyone understands the appeal of gaming, particularly video games, in the library, so you will find that you’ll need to defend your actions with academic discussions and statistics.
- Be visible: Gamers are more likely to ask library staff for help if they’re already familiar with you from gaming events, so be visible and friendly.
- Promote library gaming within your community: Place flyers at coffee houses, comic book stores, and anywhere else potential gamers are likely to find out about your events.
- Ask players what they want: When building your game collection, seek input from the people that will play them.
- Offer an appeal: Although gaming will often be appealing in and of itself, offer perks like food, drinks, or the ability to pay off late fees by winning games.
- Ask for donations: Many people in your community will be willing to donate games, if only you ask.
- Seek out sponsorship: If you do not have the funds to create a game night or game collection, ask local video game stores to sponsor an event and loan equipment to the library.
- Ask for input: Before events are over, ask attendees what they thought of the event, and if they have any suggestions.
- Create useful resources: Put together guides for gaming, such as cheats, pointers, and high scores from your players.
- Kaboose: This site offers a number of educational video games, including one called the Lightning Librarian.
Resources & Advice
Refer to these resources for advice about developing a gaming program.
- Follow the Educational Gamers: Get live advice from those in the know. Here is a list of educational gaming people to follow.
- Build a Game: Feeling a little edgy? Check out this Knewton course on how to build an educational game.
- Educational Games and Game Builders: Here’s a whole list of game and game builders for helping establish gaming in the library.
Games…in the Library?:School Library Journal takes a look at how games can be applied to educational libraries.
- Digital Downloads for Gamers: This presentation explains how you can avoid gaming theft, storage, and damage by adopting downloadable games and subscription-based game services.
- Libraries lure with video games: This article explains exactly how library games can improve circulation of books among teens.
- Harnessing Gaming: This New York Times article gives some insight on how to best harness the gaming experience for young learners.
- Gaming and Libraries: This blog will teach you just about everything you need to know about gaming in the library and how to use gaming in the classroom.
- Gaming and Libraries Update: Here you’ll find even more up-to-date information on gaming activities in libraries.
- ClassBadges: ClassBadges is a great way to better engage gamers and keep them coming back to better elevate their education and self esteem.
- Game Time With Mister Raroo: ‘Games in the Modern Public Library’: This article has an abundance of useful information for librarians who are considering adding gaming to their library.
- Curriculum Development in Gaming: Find out great ways to apply gaming to curriculum in this resource.
- Tournament Games for Any Occasion: Choosing the Right Games for Your Audience: Check out this presentation to get ideas for appropriate games for children.
- Media-gam-arama: Check a whole list of easy to use games for the library.
- Games for Teaching Information Literacy Skills: Find out how to use games to better people’s literacy levels.
- What Games Have to Teach Us: This article explains how different students have learned through the use of games.
- Leadership’s Online Labs: See how multiplayer online games are helping people to hone their leadership skills.
- The Role of Gaming in Libraries: The author or Board Games With Scott writes about the way libraries are currently using video and board games.
- Choosing a Next-Generation Format: Explaining the pros and cons of gaming consoles kids today.
- Learning in a Virtual World: This article offers various game ideas to help promote social good.
- Getting to Know the ESRB Ratings: Educate yourself about appropriate video games using this guide.
- Getting Serious About Games in the Library: Kelly Nicole Czarnecki covers gaming for all types of learners in this book.
- Online Reading Games for Kids: This article offers a host of video game ideas that promote reading.
- Games for Higher Education: Watch this slide show for examples and ideas using GBL in the higher ed classroom.
- Phasing Out Daily Fines: This article talks about the library system in Columbus phasing out daily fines.
- Library Plans Stress Reliever Event: The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire library prepared a stress relieving event the week of finals including gaming activities.
- How to Run a Super Smash Brothers Brawl Tournament: This advice is for putting together a Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament, which is a great way to bring in gamers.
- Gaming Can Make a Better World: Jane McGonigal speaks about how gaming can help create collaboration and trust.
- Yapp: Librarians planning an event should definitely check out the Yapp which allows for users to create events and better engage the community to keep them up to date.
Blogs & Groups
In these resources, you’ll find lots of ongoing discussion about gaming in the library.
- LibGaming: In this Google discussion group, you’ll be able to talk about game circulation, collections, online gaming, events, and so much more.
- ALA TechSource: ALA TechSource has loads of wonderful posts containing audio from their Gaming and Libraries Symposium.
- Cleveland Gamers: Visit this blog and learn from a very successful gaming group at Medina Library.
- Library Gamer: Brian Mayer discusses developing a game library for the school library system he works for.
- Educational Gaming Commons: Penn State’s Educational Gaming Commons is a great place to find information and resources.
- News About Games and Gaming: The American Library Association’s blog about library gaming offers plenty of high quality information on a regular basis.
- Ann Arbor District Library: Check out the AADL to see how well their gaming formats are conducted and gather some ideas on tournaments.
- Programming Librarian: This blog is also a representative of the American Library Association and keeps all librarians up to date on library news across the country.
- BoardGameGeek: He likes board games and he’s a geek – Phil Miller is the BoardGameGeek and his blog is full of intangibles on what will keep gamers interested and coming back to the library.
- Guardian Games Blog: Stay in the gaming industry loop with The Guardian’s Nick Cowen’s blog.
- Video Games Blogger: For libraries looking to spice up their video gaming collection, here is the blog to visit.
These websites are excellent resources for information about library gaming.
- Library Games: Librarians? More like FUNbrarians. Or something like that. Visit this site to come up with great ideas to bring in more gamers.
- Wayne Public Library: The Kids at Wayne Public Library are getting a mindful with all the games being offered.
- Game Professor: The Game Professor offers a look at games for learning, social change, and more.
- Arrowhead Elementary School Library: If there is still indecision on games to choose for the library, especially kid-friendly, visit Arrowhead’s site.
- Public Libraries: Keep an eye on all of the libraries in the nation and what they’re doing to better their gaming experience.
- Emily Singley: Check out the library musings of a one Emily Singley and how she’s singing the praises of adaptive libraries and librarians.
- Warp Zoned: This blog shares news, reviews, features, resources, and more.
- Pinal County Library: The layout for this library is ideal for getting parents and gamers involved in the education process.
- Sno-Isle Libraries: This site offers a multitude of resources for games and different activities in the library.
- Learning Games for Kids: Direct young gamers to this site to help them better themselves at various educational activities.
- Educational Games Research: Libraries in need of information on research about the gaming industry should make a visit.
These resources will help you determine which games and related media you should put in your collection.
- MetaCritic: Visit this meta review site to get opinions from about 100 different websites and magazines.
- What They Play: This parental guide to video games is great for librarians, too.
- Core Collections: Find out how to build a collection of video games.
- The Gaming Wave: Check out Safewave’s list of educational video games.
- Wii Essentials: Here is a long list of titles for the St. Louis Public Library’s Wii collection.
- Game Rankings: Game Rankings offers reviews and ratings of games from about 250 websites and magazines.