Bringing Gaming (and Gamers) to Your Library: 100 Tips and Resources

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Thoughts on Gaming: This article offers some invaluable thoughts on gaming use.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Create zones: Keep the library a quiet and productive space while still having fun by creating separate zones for gaming.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Play the games yourself: Get a better understanding of the appeal of games by enjoying them either with your staff or alongside your patrons.
  15. Shift your funding: Find the resources to fund gaming in the library by examining low-circulating or unpopular areas in your library’s collection.
  16. Invest in quality equipment: If you’re going to regularly offer gaming, be sure to use equipment that can stand up to heavy use.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Use permission slips: Keep track of the group you’ll be gaming with, and get a parental stamp of approval with permission slips.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Add gaming strategy guides to your collection: If you add books that offer strategies and other resources to gamers, they’ll get checked out.
  30. Let your staff play: Break down resistance to gaming by getting your staff involved and having fun with gaming.
  31. Play games that require collaboration: Get everyone involved when you play games that focus on collaboration and teamwork.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. Ask players what they want: When building your game collection, seek input from the people that will play them.
  36. 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.
  37. Ask for donations: Many people in your community will be willing to donate games, if only you ask.
  38. Seek out sponsorship: If you dotoo.
  39. Core Collections: Find out how to build a collection of video games.
  40. The Gaming Wave: Check out Safewave’s list of educational video games.
  41. Wii Essentials: Here is a long list of titles for the St. Louis Public Library’s Wii collection.
  42. Game Rankings: Game Rankings offers reviews and ratings of games from about 250 websites and magazines.