I was on Kathy and Judy

Kathy and Judy from WGN Radio were talking this morning about Gaming in libraries. Originally, they were saying that games are too noisy for libraries and that programs like DDR and Guitar Hero should be held at the park district.

Well, I couldn’t let that sort of nonsense go unchecked! I called in and using a lot of the excellent information i I gained from Jenny Levine’s presentation on gaming at Dominican, I explained that, yes, kids could game at the park district. They could game at home. But if they game at the library, they are gaming around books. I also talked a bit about the fact that you build relationships with kids who come to gaming programs and build trust so that when you recommend a book to that person, they will trust your recommendation more.

Later they spoke with a library director and a parent of a gaming teen and by the end of the conversation we had them convinced! They complemented the librarian’s who called on their ability to present the argument in such a clear way.

So I spoke to 38 states about the need for gaming in libraries! YIKES!

If that segment gets added to the weekly podcast, I’ll put a link up, but I just had to crow a bit about my experience.


Post #5 -History of Online Gaming

Okay, I’ll admit… I’ve been dreading the internet history posting. I blame it on tech-speak. Not that the articles we read for class are so bad. I just get a bad case of MEGO (my eyes glaze over (thank you Marjorie Bloss, Cataloging Professor extraordinare)) when I see acronyms.

I’m thinking it must be a syndrome… you know, IRAD (Inability to Read Acronyms Disorder).

Anyhow, in order to overcome my hesitation, I decided to focus on an area of the internet that I am very familiar with: online gaming. This article from Wikipedia does a great job of highlighting the history of MMORPGs in a very readable way. Their article on the history online gaming in general was a bit harder to digest.

It seems that wherever there are two gamers, there will be a game. And wherever there are gamers separated by a distance, they will create a way to game. Most of the early games were text-based (:turn left) and played over university networks. As the internet expanded, so did the games. Even without specific software, gamers find ways to game. I remember a friend running a traditional RPG in an AOL chat room in the mid-90s. We even had a little program to roll dice for us. Now, of course, there are 10 million gamers playing World of Warcraft and even console games like Final Fantasy XI connect users around the world.

How does all of this connect to libraries? To paraphrase Jenny Levine, if gamers are going to game, why don’t we have them game while surrounded by books. Gaming programs at libraries have become a popular way to attract users that would normally never darken the library door. Traditionally, these programs have focused on console games like DDR and Guitar Hero. Some libraries are begining to offer programs featuring online games as well. Recently Aurora Public Library (that’s in Colorado, folks, not west of Chicago) held a Runescape tournament for Teen Tech week.

I don’t know about your libraries, but we already have unoffical runescape tournaments going on every day after school. Why not tap into that energy to create a fun program that may attract a different sort of library user?

Just a thought,


Post #3 – Shift to Gaming

I’m not sure how I missed it before, but since I attended the Gaming in Libraries program at Dominican, I have been enjoying Jenny Levine’s Shifted Librarian blog. She collects all the best ideas about using gaming and technology in libraries into one, easy to digest blog.

Here are a few of my favorite recent posts:

Dance your fines away

I love this idea. Not only is fine forgiveness a great way to encourage people to come back the library, this idea is a guaranteed publicity magnet. Any time we can draw positive attention to what we do, we are making our communities more aware of what the library provides the community. Not only that, but the library is publicizing its acceptance of gaming and gaming culture in the library. This is very important for changing the public’s impression of the library as a quiet, boring place.

What do games have to do with literacy?

I had a couple of run-ins with this question in my own library as we were questioned on our policy restricting gaming on public computers (which has since been lifted) and our purchase of a PS2, DDR and Guitar Hero. A new staff member was questioning why the games had been purchased and what they were being used for.

Besides the fact that video games fit perfectly with the iREAD Summer Reading Program theme, games are a fun way to teach. Take the article by Brian Mayer linking the New York State Curriculum standards to board games. Or Paul Waelchli’s article on teaching information literacy by playing fantasy football.

Barack Obama may be telling parents to turn off the video games in order to encourage learning for their children, but maybe they need to keep those games on in order to prepare kids for a Web 2.0 world.