Video games in libraries

Edinburgh City libraries recently launched the Libraries4U project which aims to encourage more young people to use their libraries. As part of the project, three Edinburgh libraries have been refurbished to include new teenage zones. The libraries at Craigmillar, Kirkliston and Moredun also offer access to popular gaming consoles and host games clubs and competitions for young people.

The use of games consoles has become widespread in the US where, according to the LA Times, a study by Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies found that a quarter of US libraries held video game events in 2007. As part of the US National Library Week 2008, Friday 18 April was declared National Gaming @ your library Day.

Many American librarians – and the American Library Association (ALA) – support the use of video games in libraries, claiming that it makes libraries seem more relevant to young people and promotes the use of other resources ( i.e. books). This is supported by another Syracuse University study which, as quoted in the LA Times, found that three quarters of library gamers returned for other services.

Are video games just another new format that public libraries should stock and promote, like CDs and DVDs in the past? Let us know your views or experience of gaming in libraries.

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3 Responses

  1. I own a Wii and a DS, not a ‘real’ gaming environment in some purist’s eyes. I think this is an exciting development for the use of public libraries.

    Being an avid gamer myself, I recently completed Professor Layton and the Curious Village on my DS. I found the content both educational and thought provoking, not all games are about guns, girls and ‘gangstas’.

    I love the idea of libraries getting rid of redundant books that have never seen a date return in their shelf life and replacing with games for loan and even consoles for hire.

  2. I’m really not sure what to make of this! It seems fairly straight-forward and valid for libraries to stock and lend video games but I struggle with the thought of actually playing the games in the library. I can see challenges for frontline staff in terms of managing the gamers – being drawn into disputes about controller hogs or queue jumpers!

    Like Penny I’m a fan of the wii and, although I don’t subscribe to the “sshhh” brand of libranianship, I know how noisey gaming can be! Would this not be off-putting for older library visitors?

    I’ll reserve final judgement until I’ve seen library gaming in practice!

  3. The gaming industry in Scotland is huge and I think it’s great that we’re embracing the potential of gaming as a learning tool and offering children a destination to participate and interact with technology that is relevant to their lives and their futures!

    On the whole, I think it’s a really innovative idea and ties in well with the move to incorporate computer game design into the school curriculum in Scotland. I see it, however, as a service that sits alongside, rather than replaces traditional library services. I’ve read a lot about public libraries in Brooklyn and the Bronx successfully using gaming as a route into reading, so I’m all for giving it a try!
    Christine Rooney-Browne

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