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Subject: Gaming and the Library rss

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MechaBri Zilla
United States
Michigan
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I've just started working at a public library in a fairly large college town. We have a thriving gaming community here already and I'm wondering what place a library might serve in supporting that community.

Currently Game stores provide places for people to come to play and tryout new games so gaming space isn't required and I don't think loaning of games to the public is particularly feasible since so many have tons of little parts that would be difficult to track. So, I'm looking for something else and would love to hear some ideas from the gaming community at large.

I do have a couple ideas of my own as well, but as I'm still new to the library community I am not sure how I might get these ideas off the ground. I've thought about hosting talks with designers, but haven't the first clue where to look to connect with local designers. Also I thought perhaps programs aimed at younger kids designed to teach them to make their own games might be cool, but I could use some advice on what that might look like.
 
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Donald Dennis
United States
Pawleys Island
South Carolina
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Check out the Games ins Schools and Libraries podcast. Also, if you have any specific questions or ideas you'd like us to cover as topics, let us know and we'll add those to our topic list.
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Donald Dennis
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South Carolina
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MechaBriZilla wrote:
I've just started working at a public library in a fairly large college town. We have a thriving gaming community here already and I'm wondering what place a library might serve in supporting that community.


Partnerships might work well for you. Game stores tend to attract the same people over and over, while libraries offer programming. We've used games to support grant sponsored programs about Hurricanes or economics. One of our local educational toy stores lent us games for the summer children's programming.

If you could bring in people from the game store to help support your special programs, they get advertising and you'll be able offer programs you don't have to shell out extra cash to acquire.
 
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Mark Gage
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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Gaming Related » Games in the Classroom
Re: Gaming and the Library
My experience comes from organizing a monthly event at our public library in Bend, Oregon.

Unlike you, Bend does not have a game store with playing space, and before this, there were no public venues for board games. I'm also not sure that I would describe our local scene as "thriving," as apart from this monthly event, and a Facebook community that currently has about 20-30 active participants, there is no easy way to find other local enthusiasts.

We've been doing the public library thing for about 18 months. A few of my friends and I provide all the games -- usually about 150 to choose from -- and we do all the marketing, setup, and cleanup for the event. The library provides us the space for six hours (6 pm to midnight) free on a Saturday night, but actively avoids the event in any other way.

We've been getting a pretty steady 40 to 50 participants, which is close to the capacity of the room (we could accommodate another dozen or so). Ages range from 3 to around 65, with a median of about 32. 60:40 M/F. Most, but not all, of the people that show up have been previously exposed to the goodness of modern board games, though we try to make it clear in all of our marketing and at the event itself, that all are welcome, and that games of all variety are offered and played. We don't generally get much response from kids (defined as < 18), and those that do come are mostly brought by their parents who are familiar with and interested in games themselves.

I have talked with a few staffers about game programs that the library has tried in the past. A couple branches have tried to run game programs -- two hours of an afternoon where maybe four classic games were offered -- sometimes to specific library patron groups, like teens. They haven't had much response to these programs, and currently the library has more or less abandoned running their own board game sessions, feeling that their young patrons are more interested in video games, and maybe thinking that our monthly evening session satisfies the local demand.

I have tried to get the library to cooperate with our monthly evening program a little more actively -- maybe get a notice about the event on the library's online calendar of events, or help us get an article in the local paper -- but have been rebuffed. As it has been explained to me, you are either a library employee, and run an official library program, or you are not. If you run an official library program, you have the resources and marketing tools of the library available. If you are not, you are on your own, and the library will not try to decide which of the 200 or so groups that use the library's facilities should receive extra support.

I'd love for the library to get more involved, but so far, their position is "you are the only group that we allow after hours access to our community room. You should be happy with that." It's true that we do appreciate that (and take good care of the place, and indemnify the library for any damage or loss). However, I sense that this could be more successful if we had a closer working relationship with the library, but I haven't found the key to that yet.



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