Cool Libraries with Games

A lot of libraries are doing gaming — I’d venture to say we’re closing in on “pretty much everyone who is even a little interested” is doing so. Maybe it’s a little, or maybe it’s a lot. Maybe you could do more if you knew about more possibilities.

The Online Courses blog saw fit to recognize “Ten Totally Cool Libraries That Love Gamers” not too long ago. They understand today’s libraries too, acknowledging that we no longer fit the narrow stereotype of the hushed (shusshed!?) cathedral of esoteric tomes no one was really quite fit to touch, but instead have a wider mission “not only as a place for reading, but community, lifelong learning, exploration, technology and fun.”

The list and notes are brief but I offer this link to inspire you, and to help you learn a little of what your peers are doing successfully in other libraries. Perhaps you could do a little more or try some new ideas.

Few libraries have deep pockets but on the whole, games have high re-play value. Investing in a few good board games, or investing your time to research games like “Werewolf” or stone-or-marble games like Mancala that require no funds at all pays off quickly.

Furthermore, both those last two games offer sidebar programming ideas, whether a discussion of the nature of suspicion, lies, and and character assassination and from thence to a look at McCarthyism — or an exploration on the variations of a single game across many cultures. (Mancala-games exist in many forms around the world.)

The person who wrote the article for Online Courses cheated a little in that Top Ten list, because Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library and the ImaginOn are rather closely associated, to put it mildly. That does not take away from their notes and copious links to libraries offering all-day drop-in DDR, a summertime Dungeons & Dragons campaign, or a university library enabling undergraduates to participate in the ARIS Global Game Jam. I was particularly caught by the idea of having library branches or whole systems compete against one another via some of the co-op online games. So many possibilities!

Click a few links, read and explore… then reach a little higher when you plan the next round of gaming events in your library. Game on!

Liz Danforth About Liz Danforth

Liz Danforth, MLS, is a freelance game illustrator, scenario designer, and game developer who was inducted into the Academy of Gaming Arts and Design's Hall of Fame in in 1996. She has 18 years experience as a part-time paralibrarian in Phoenix and Tucson and is one of about a dozen "gaming experts" working with the American Library Association on a million-dollar grant-funded project to study the use of gaming to improve literacy skills and to develop a model "toolbox" for gaming in libraries. Through Danforth Design & Development (D3), she also works as an artist, a writer, and a library consultant. Follow her on Twitter @LizDanforth.