Playing games at today's library—March 13, 2009
You may have read a recent story about the Nebraska Library Commission coming under scrutiny by the state auditor for their purchase and use of a video game system. Something you may not know about today’s libraries is how much gaming is becoming a part of our programming and in some libraries, the collection. Now I don’t claim to have a lot of experience with games (video, card or board) but I know there is a lot of research that supports games as learning tools. Games of all kinds require information gathering, problem solving and usually teamwork…all skills that we need in our daily lives. But what is the connection with bringing these games into the library?
Today’s modern library should be more than what I call a “warehouse of books.” The library is hopefully becoming a community gathering space, a “third place” if you will, between work/school and home. Gaming fits right in with this movement as a way for the community to come together to play, socialize and learn. So when the Nebraska Library Commission purchased their video game system, their purpose was to learn firsthand about the equipment and games and then pass that learning on to libraries across the state interested in adding gaming to their programming options. From what I have read, the feedback from many librarians on the Commission’s training was very positive. In many cases, libraries, like Hastings Public Library, otherwise wouldn’t have been able to learn about the gaming systems in a hands-on way.
While I’ve resisted allowing any video games into my own home up until recently, I do see the benefit of having gaming as part of our programming options at Hastings Public Library. Sometimes the role of the library is to provide learning opportunities; sometimes it is to provide social experiences. We can do both by offering gaming programs to our community. So be on the look out for more opportunities to interact with your neighbors at the library in the near future.
And while I’ve still got your attention, if there are other activities or collections that the library could provide or improve on, I’d love to hear from you. Being new to Hastings, I have a lot to learn about what the community wants from its library. Drop me an email or stop in anytime. I want to make this library an inviting “third place” for you and your family.