Overdue debate in the Guardian

On Fri 15 Aug, the Guardian featured an article on the “noisy row” between librarians on either side of the overdue fines debate. The article provides an overview of the issues surrounding fines within a UK wide context and also points to some interesting alternatives. According to the report, a New Zealand library is using a Guitar Hero challenge to settle overdue fines.

Palmerston City Library held their Guitar Hero Amnesty on Mon 18 Aug, inviting teenage library users with overdue books to take on the Overdues Librarian to songs by Alice Cooper and Poison. If victorious, the young people could have their existing fines waived. This is certainly an innovative approach to dealing with fines and a good example of how video games are being used to attract young people to public libraries (although many Scottish libraries do not charge children or young people for overdues).

Any suggestions or examples of innovative alternatives to fines would be welcomed.

The ‘for and against library fees’ debate continues at the Guardian books blog.

More video games in libraries

In our previous post on this topic we noted that video games were already well established in American public libraries. The American Library Association (ALA) is now seeking to develop this further through a $1 million study into the impact of gaming on literacy skills.

As part of the Gaming for Learning project, which was announced during the ALA Conference, the ALA will build a model for library gaming that can be deployed nationally. The Librarians’ Guide to Gaming will be developed in collaboration with leading gaming experts in order to create a comprehensive online literacy and gaming toolbox. It will then be tested in selected libraries before being rolled out across the US.

Commenting on the project, ALA President Loriene Roy said: “Gaming is a magnet that attracts library users of all types and, beyond its entertainment value, has proven to be a powerful tool for literacy and learning.”

We look forward to the publication of the Librarians’ Guide to Gaming to see what lessons it holds for Scottish libraries.

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.