Gaming in Libraries: What’s in your arsenal?

Gaming in libraries can take countless forms. Gaming can be done in a formal program, or left for open use in the teen area. There’s online gaming, education-focused gaming, competitive and creative-style games. From the latest video game consoles to pen and paper role-playing games, 2 hour games of Uno to fighting over the Pikachu character in Pokemon Monopoly, there are endless possibilities stretched out before you and your teens.

As the first in a series of posts on gaming in libraries, we’re going to hear from several TSU contributors on what kind of gaming works for their teens and programs.


Eden says:

Gaming in my library takes just about every form possible. We play video games and board games at our weekly hangout programs. The board games are also available for in-library use outside of programs. Teen volunteers are allowed to go into the staff area to pick out games for use in and outside of programs, and there is a small collection of board games at the Reference Desk with barcodes on them that other teens can check out.

I hold occasional video game tournaments, usually Super Smash Brothers Brawl on the Wii. My teen patrons really enjoy playing card games like Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, and the Pokemon TCG during programs, in the teen area, and anywhere else in the library they can find space. Other forms of tabletop gaming include forays into Settlers of Catan and sometimes the Pathfinder roleplaying game.

I’ve found that other than having an arsenal of board games available, it is important for me to stay up to date with my teen patrons’ current interests. They can switch obsessions from Yu-Gi-Oh to Magic:TG very fast, and I have to keep my programming up with that.

Regina says:

Gaming in my library takes many forms!  It helps to have a librarian who is a gamer themselves. Currently, it takes the form of our Teen Gaming Alliance, daily video games, and monthly passive board/card games. We have a Retron, PS4, PS3, PS2, Xbox360, and Nintendo Wii in our teen room. We don’t currently have the Xbox One or WiiU (though I get a lot of requests for the latter).

I learned early on that gaming was my “in” with many of the teens here.  Learning that I was a gamer myself, and challenging me to debates and contests, was how I made connections that opened the door for Readers’ Advisory, and sometimes even just general talking.  The Gaming Alliance is a monthly club where we play new games, talk about gaming, and they give me suggestions on games to buy.  I always try to forge connections between games and books, so all of my booklists include things to read, watch, and play.  We live-stream the E3 conference, and watch game trailers when they come out.  We’ve also had special after-hours events where we play games they can’t play during regular library hours like Hitman.

Monday-Thursday, the teen room television is available for 2-hour “checkouts” after 5pm (the teens requested this time-frame to make it fair for all high-schoolers to have time to get to the library), while Friday-Sunday, it is available from the time we open until 30 minutes prior to closing.  We use a Google spreadsheet as a reservation list, and it keeps track of their name, time-slot, how many controllers were borrowed and for which system.   Inside the room, I also have electronic games that don’t need to be checked out like Simon, Bop-It, or any games on the Teen Room Ipad.

Most recently, I’ve started encouraging other forms of gaming through passive programming each month.  Monopoly Mondays is a huge draw, and we play different versions at different tables.  (Currently I have Walking Dead-opoly, Electronic Banking, and a custom version based on our village, but they want Legend of Zelda and Simpsons-opoly next).  We’ve played table tennis with this handy set I got from Amazon, in February we’ll be playing the card game Anomia, in March we’ll be playing trashcan basketball, and I’ve also got a sudden influx of teens who love to stop in and play Clue!  While not really a “game”, we’ve also done jigsaw puzzles.

All that to say, gaming is big (fun)business at our library!

Pam says:

Gaming is relatively new for our teens at all branches of our library; however we have awesome support from our Friends organization and I am anxiously awaiting the board games we purchased at the end of last year!  I went off of suggestions from our TLC.  We already have games like Say Anything! and a D&D starter set in the Teen Space.  Additionally, we have a very popular all-ages Chess Club that meets once a month, so the library invested in chess sets that stay in the library all the time, and I’ve noticed teens playing with those as well.

The major draw in our teen center is a PS4 (again, thanks to our Friends!).  Although a lot of the games are two player, the teens have figured out a “tournament” system where the “loser” of a battle or game would pass the controller on to someone else.  I’m so impressed with the peer instruction and cooperation that I see.  Teens who might not normally even talk to each other happily play Injustice together and give each other tips.

I also program live-action games like Live Clue! that can be adapted to practically any theme.  These games are so much fun because it lets the teens expend energy and talk about the theme (the Doctor Who one was insanely popular).

What kind of gaming goes on in your library? Do you have any questions for our agents? Sound off in the comments or start a discussion on our Facebook page!


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