At my library, we recently started up a circulating video game collection. Since we didn’t have a huge budget and we knew the collection was going to be rather small, we opted to go stark naked with security. There’s also an amazing vibe here in Portland, Maine. People really have a lot of trust in each other and everyone has a lot of faith in each other. We put the games out on the shelf in the cases, did our best to monitor things, and went about our business at the library.
Recently, we’ve had some stuff stolen. Instead of going all hush hush about it, my teen library co-conspirator Michael W. and I put together a little graveyard to remember the games that have been swiped. Our goal wasn’t to shame the thieves into returning the games. Instead, we wanted to show our community that this is a real problem and that while, yes, we’re a bit upset, it’s not us who’s hurt the most. It’s the community that’s hurt the most.
It sounds like a passive aggressive thing, but I assure you that’s not where we’re coming from. Often times, when something bad happens in libraries we’re trying our best to keep it quiet. Instead, we’re talking about it and attempting to create a discussion. Has it worked? Lots of folks are coming around to the teen library and when they leave we’re having to pick their jaws up off the floor. They’re amazed that people could steal from a library and at the same time they want to know what they can do to help. Sure, maybe we lost a few games, but in the end I think we’re creating a stronger, more aware community, one that respects and loves its library.
The aftermath? We’re going to start storing the games behind our desk. It protects our investment but even better yet it ensures that these games will be part of the library for a long time for the rest of the community to enjoy.
By TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke