Do video games have a place in libraries? (Yup!)

Yesterday I came across this article about Hamilton Public Library, which is currently about to review their policy on video game lending. A board member brought up the question- should the library be in the business of lending video games? 

Every library is different, as a library should support the community it serves, and every community has its own needs and wants. As such, asking whether a library should be lending video games is a valid question, and comes down to does the community want video games?


 

I am not familiar with the specific demographics of Hamilton, but video games have become a huge part of mainstream culture, and I imagine that HPL’s patron base would reflect that. A quick look at the public library’s mission statement and values  shows that video games could indeed fit well with HPL’s mandate:

Freedom to discover (would your patrons enjoy discovering video games? Remember, video games can potentially be enjoyed by all ages)

Providing access to all expressions of knowledge and creativity (video games are definitely an expressive and creative format for immersive storytelling, and many games provide creative modes for designing and sharing)

Connecting with diverse communities (this includes patrons who are interested in video games- at my public library the video games attract patrons  to the library who otherwise may not frequent our doors)

Anticipating and responding to changing needs. (Are video games in demand/ high circ at Hamilton PL? What societal trends might show an increase in interest for video games in your community?)

Embracing a diversity of opinions and protecting the dignity of individuals. (Are video games important to some of  your patron base? In questioning the importance/validity of video games as a format, are you acting on a biased or preconceived notion of what video games are and can be?)

Ensuring that library services are vital and relevant. (Video games may not be relevant to all of your patrons, but certainly could be very important and valued resources for some of them)


 

My public library began lending video games a few years ago, and they have become one of our most circulated collections, with lots of checkouts and holds on new titles as soon as they become available.

I’m a library worker of nearly 8 years, current MLIS student, and geek who enjoys video games. I have a few more thoughts on video games and why they could definitely be an excellent part of a library’s collection:

  • Many libraries, especially public libraries, have a mission of providing entertainment as well as information. Video games are a format, not a genre, and they can provide entertainment, interaction, creativity (and yes, even information and education) to users.
  • Video games are misunderstood by many people. Some see video games as either mindless fluff or bloody violence and nothing in between. However, video games are a format for expression just as books and movies are. 
  • Teens love video games- teens are often a difficult demographic to attract to the library. Including video games in your collection, as well as gaming related programs and services, is a great way to ensure your library is relevant to this demographic.

 

More To Explore

http://www.beyondliteracy.com/gaming-as-a-literacy/

http://games.ala.org/games-in-libraries/

http://gaming.ala.org/resources/index.php?title=Games_and_Gaming_Resources

https://www.theguardian.com/games/2018/aug/13/video-games-are-political-heres-how-they-can-be-progressive

https://nowtoronto.com/lifestyle/class-action/are-video-games-literature/

http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/planning-for-success/innovation/gaming-in-libraries

http://www.videogamelibrarian.com/

https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/blog/words-thought/video-games-developing-new-narrative-randy-joly

 

Author: HideNGoShauna

Canadian 🍁 B.Ed, Future librarian 📚 Love dogs 🐶 &Vampires🦇 Artist🎨 Cosplayer 🎀 Shawol, lil freak 💎🔑 Ringer 💍🍃 Hufflepuff⚡ Fangirl! 😆

4 thoughts on “Do video games have a place in libraries? (Yup!)”

  1. It seems like a fairly sensible idea to start lending out games. I remember my local one would lend out videos when I was young. I suppose there’s the risk that games are significantly more expensive than books, but it would certainly bring people together. I could see a ‘video game book club’ at a library working well, with people coming together to play a specific game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment! Yup, games are pricey (and sadly are potentially high-theft items, so we need to store them carefully), but if they provide good value for the community and access for people who might not be able to afford all the games they’d like to play, then that’s a win!

      Yes! My library has video game competitions sometimes, and also a more passive program where people can come and play on our consoles. A recent fortnight program was fully registered (all spots filled) in a couple of days!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s the sort of things that libraries need to take notice of. Rather than bemoan the lack of people coming to them, what can they do to draw people in. You never know, maybe they’ll pick up a book whilst they’re there.

        Like

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