Video Games in Libraries: An Introduction

24videogames.cityroom.1So I was driving by my local library the other day when something caught my eye. In huge letters on their side was “YES! WE HAVE VIDEO GAMES!” I’d lived in the area for over 9 months and this was the first time I was actually contemplating about stopping there. For many of you, that may not be weird, but I like books. I know… crazy. It actually took the mention of video games to get my attention. But why would a library have video games? Aren’t they only suppose to have crusty old librarians and dusty shelves of ancient manuscripts. Not today’s libraries. In fact, you may find that dream librarian who is not only young (maybe hot), but knows what an Xbox360 or a PS3 is.

Why am I writing this article? Well… because I’m a librarian, or will be depending on your definition, and a Gamer, a nerd and a geek, a gerd if you will. Plus it’s of interest to me. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to combine my love and my job. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Anyway, libraries today aren’t just for books anymore. More and more they’re turning towards electronic forms of data and even entertainment. They have to compete with bookstores and video rental places by taking that step. While older women are in lines to get the newest smut novel, it’s the youngin’s that are missing from the library. For some reason, those smut novels just don’t have the same draw for us.

Somewhere deep within the bowels of the Earth, all the librarians got together to try to figure out this problem… the answer was right in front of them the whole time, video games. It’s the fastest growing entertainment sector and if you’ve ever been to a midnight launch… you know who the main market is. Now all they had to figure out how to do was to work that into the library. The two models that these enlightened librarians came up with: circulating collections and tournaments. Yes, tournaments, but that’s for a later article.

This series of articles is going to go over how librarians use video games to attract the younger crowds and how  gamers can benefit from it. I’ll hopefully be able to entice you to at least go look at your library. If you pay taxes in the US (I don’t know about abroad… sorry!), you’ve probably helped fund your local library, might as well get your money’s worth.

Right now, I want to give a plug to a place that I feel every gamer should visit, besides the really cool game center. I work for the University of Michigan library system and we have a video game archive. Yes, a VIDEO GAME archive that is open to the public in a library! (We also have Video Game classes which is awesome in itself). As of the beginning of Feb. we’ve got over 1000 games… including the many old classics. If you’d like more information about UM’s Video Game Archive, check out this blog by David Carter, who is the head of the VGA or this page that tells you what we need. If you have donations, I’m sure they would be glad to take them.

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~ by reluctant_gamer on August 13, 2009.

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