Libraries Open Their Doors to Gamers on National Gaming Day @ your library
Libraries provide spaces for social engagement.
This will be amply demonstrated this weekend when libraries across the country take part in the American Library Association's National Gaming Day @ your library.
The event, sponsored by FamilyandPartyGames.com, is expected to draw more than 20,000 people at more than 1,200 libraries.
Libraries will offer board games, role playing games, an international “Epic Super Smash Bros. Brawl” tournament, a retro 30th anniversary “Frogger” contest and more.
Among the libraries taking part will be the New York Public Library. Its Mid-Manhattan location will host a six-hour event of nothing but Games, Games, Games!
Five specialized board game tables will offer such staples as Scrabble, Battleship and Checkers, as well as Wits & Wagers.
In addition to board games, the library is also providing a Nintendo Wii for those who prefer video games.
The library on its website is emphasizing the value of gaming, pointing out that gaming of all types at the library "encourages young patrons to interact with a diverse group of peers, share their expertise with others (including adults), and develop new strategies for gaming and learning."
Gaming also shows how the library is a community institution that welcomes everyone. "It's a way for traditionally underserved groups to have fun in the library and interact with other members of the community."
In an article in Encore Online New Hanover County (N.C.) Public Library Reference Librarian and Event Organizer Susan Wood said of the event, “It’s a little bit of everything. It’s board games and video games, and then more interactive games for little kids, like bean-bag toss, and a duct tape maze on the ground to crawl through.”
In the article, she mentions that libraries are keeping up with the latest technologies, adding that gaming is just another way to reinforce literacy skills.
“Video games are technology,” Wood said. “A new form of technology—which libraries have always been a part of (the latest technology). And it’s also stories told on a different format. Most games are just a different way to tell a story, and there are all kinds of literacy skills that kids do learn when they’re using games.”
At the Palatine Public Library, teen librarian Megan Buttera said, participants are handed a map of the library –that doubles as a game card and directed to five different stations, including one with Bingo.
“We were kind of shocked at how popular Bingo was last year,” she said.
When the game card is filled with stickers after all the stations have been visited, visitors are handed an exclusive gaming button, a pin bearing a picture of the Monopoly game board.
“The idea is to make the event sort of like a game,” she said.
Last year’s event, she said, drew about 100 people of all ages.
“The value for us,” she said, “is we want to highlight our collection and focus on how gaming provides opportunities for learning literacy.” In particular, she said, the library is focusing on early literacy games.
Gaming promotes many skills related to literacy, such as print recognition and counting.
Amy Twito, program manager for youth services at the Seattle Public Library, said the library has four gaming kits that are shared and passed around among its 27 locations. The kits each consist of two large Pelican cases filled with a Wii, a Playstation 2, a monitor and data projector, extra batteries and supplies and games such as Dance, Dance, Revolution, American Idol and Beatles Rock Band. “The kids really enjoy it, and it is a draw,” she said, adding the event gives kids the feeling that the library is a place of their own, as well as the feeling that people in the community care about them.
Amy Dettmer, Teen Services coordinator at the Grand Rapids (Minn.) Area Library, said the event "definitely brings awareness for games."
She said her particular library does not own a gaming system, but the library system as a whole does and makes it available for the event.
Dettmer said gaming "brings in sort of a different dynamic." It provides, she said, an opportunity for families to come to the library to play and talk together.
"They have fun as a family," she said. It also changes some of people's perceptions about libraries.
"Most people see the library as having videos, DVDs and books and maybe don’t see it so much as (about) gaming. So I think it brings a kind of different light to the library."
It is also, she said, a gateway to other services offered at the library.
"We usually try to have some displays," she said, including a display on toys - part of the library's Fall Creativity @ your library theme - that ties in with the event.
Locate a National Gaming Day Event near you: