Thursday, September 10, 2009

More Games at the Library

Libraries have been getting more fun for years. Where will it all stop?

Once upon a time, in my lifetime, libraries supplied only books, magazines, and newspapers. Every public library was built with a massive reference collection. Librarians actually studied reference tools so that we would know when to use things like the Statistical Abstract of the United States instead of the World Almanac. Advanced librarians knew how to load a microfilm reader, and find government documents using the Monthly Catalog.

Then Popular Culture reared its pretty head, and the Library started doing more and more. First there was music. Then there was film. Then there was Computers for the public. Then there was Graphic Novels. Then there was Manga. And lately, every library comes equipped with a Wii playstation and all kinds of stuffed animals and a few games for use in the library itself. Kewl. Coolio, indeed!

Now, in this time of recession, with budgets crashing, and services being reduced, our Administration has asked for suggestions that would make the library a better place. What they really want is additional ways to save money, but that's hard. When you're talking libraries, the only real ways to save money is to cut staff, cut hours, or cut materials

Well, I sent in my suggestion today. I love to make suggestions, knowing full well that the chances of my bosses paying any attention to them are zilch and none. My suggestion; buy cheap games like Candyland and Crazy Eights and circulate them at the library. We have a few games for kids to play inside the library, and the public often asks to check them out. We have to say no. But, games don't cost any more than books. Yes, they will get lost, and broken, and eaten, but that happens to our books too. It wouldn't be hard to create a generic game category and circulate them as uncatalogged items. It would be even better if we could catalog them. Then if you wanted to find a game of Parchezi to play, you could check it out from the library.

In fact, as a lifelong gamer, I would like nothing better than to have a real games library--a place where people could go to both play games and to really learn about them--a place where games could be checked out and taken home. I think it would be a boon to society, and could quickly become a community center. Kids like to play games too. Even some adults like games.

The truth is that computers are a poor second when compared to the joy of face to face gaming. Let's get more face to face games and teach people what it means to be social again. It's a lot more than exchanging imaginary gifts on Facebook.


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