Category Archives: Gaming & Gamers in Libraries

Library Books versus Gaming

A blog post describing a teacher’s personal reservations about allowing students certain types of technology use, on a blog site that promotes technology and libraries may seem paradoxical, but here it goes. By the way, my name is Michael Westfall and I’m a media information specialist in a Chicago public elementary school and a Dominican University LIS graduate student. A big thank you to Michael Stephens for allowing me to get my voice out there. So here is my issue: I don’t like kids playing games on the computers in my library because I feel it is at the expense of the reading of books.

I’m not anti-computer, a killjoy, or a raving modern-day Luddite. I will admit to a little technophobia, but I really do enjoy working with my students on computers. We’re very fortunate to have a fully functional computer lab within our school library, and this year we’ve learned to make Power Point presentations in fifth and sixth grades, used clip art and word art in documents starting in third grade, and have begun typing in first grade. This type of engaged time on a computer is different for me than playing games because working in Power Point, Word, and Excel produces tangible products, something I can view, enjoy, and assess. The tangible product doesn’t exist after playing a game. In the give-and-take spirit that pervades modern day teaching, I have begun to allow game playing as a reward in the last few minutes of library time. I don’t force kids to check out books, but encourage it as strongly as I can. But frequently those books still sit there, ignored and untouched (especially by those in fifth grade and up), waiting for the attention I so strongly feel they deserve.

At heart I am a book person. It’s why I chose to leave general classroom teaching and become my school’s librarian. I’ve worked hard to find and add to the collection books that kids request or show an interest in, and I have been heartened by the reactions of many students to this throughout the year. But beneath my game racism – my gamecism – is a fear. What frightens me is that many of my students have significant difficulty reading and comprehending text online, whether it’s a Wikipedia entry, an advertisement, or even detailed directions for a game. Many of them just don’t seem to get that to use the internet you have to read. To me, this is life skills reading that in importance resides alongside being able to read street signs, food labels, and directions for how to assemble furniture from IKEA or Target. I believe my personal conflict raises a serious question: how to fully use limited school library time on two very different activities – building reading comprehension skills through engagement with books, or fostering the strategizing, problem-solving, and collaborative skills that gaming is supposed to aide in developing.

Gaming Librarian Appointed

News from McMaster University:

The University Library is pleased to announce the appointment of Shawn McCann to the position of Immersive Learning (Gaming) Librarian. Shawn comes to us from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where he is the Digital Projects Librarian and has also held the position Web Librarian. Shawn’s official start date is August 1 2007. Shawn’s primary responsibility will be for exploring, creating, supporting and promoting library resources through gaming and virtual worlds. In particular, he brings strong technical skills; library experience; grant writing; classroom teaching experience; and, of course, a personal interest in gaming.

Thos are some cool responsibilities: Shawn’s primary responsibility will be for exploring, creating, supporting and promoting library resources through gaming and virtual worlds. :-)

Congrats Shawn!

The First Rule is Engagement

Jeff Trzeciak writes about gaming and libraries:

What does this have to do with designing better libraries? Well, quite a bit! All educators – including librarians – need to develop an understanding that technology has had a profound impact on how we act AND how we think. We need to develop systems that reflect how learners learn today. Libraries and library systems have traditionally taken a very linear and very text-based approach to accessing resources. This approach, it turns out, may actually be detrimental to the educational process.

The first rule of education is engagement. Games are by their very nature engaging. As a result, our users are turning up in these environments more and more often. They are there and we need to be there as well. So, my post is a question really….what is the library community doing about getting into gaming in significant ways? Who are the leaders in this area and what are they doing to make library resources and services more accessible through game environments?

And how is LIS education repsonding? Are we adding information about gaming programs to our courses. How does a thriving gaming program impact library management for example?

I think I’d like to hear Jeff and Jenny Levine chat about gaming, learning and the future of libraries. The “gaming power” alone might blow the roof off of the venue! It would be fascinating!

If You’re Not Gaming


Jenny writes:

Erik and Jaap, our February visitors from the public library in Delft, Holland, returned home safely and quickly got to work putting together the 40-minute documentary they filmed about innovation in libraries, particularly around gaming. It premiered a couple of weeks ago to great reviews, and now they’re working on an English version. Until it’s ready, you can watch a trailer on the DOK website. Catch a glimpse of Michael Stephens wii bowling and Clare and me playing Guitar Hero. Cool!

AND they use the live version of “Big Love” from Fleetwood Mac’s The Dance!

More from J:

Hit play when the trailer ends and you’ll see their interview with staff from the Kankakee Public Library about podcasting.

Pictures of gaming at DOK here.

Well Done Jaap and Erik! You are missed here!

Hunter Class… Tauren…Librarian

McMaster Presentation

Jeff Trzeciak the McMaster University Librarian writes:

I had a great time presenting to our Board of Governors on Thursday. I spoke about gaming and its impact on students today. It was a radical departure from the type of presentation they had received in the past. They seemed to enjoy it and asked lots of questions.

View or download the PDF:

Don’t miss the Four Pillars of Transformation, data about games and gamers, insight into the student’s media rich lives and Jeff’s WoW vitals! :-)

Timothy’s Research Project

I am most impressed with Timothy Grieg’s post about his research project for his Masters:

[My] project seeks to develop a framework for the ways in which game design and e-learning theories might inform the future design and development of library interfaces within virtual world environments by considering an example of an emerging online library, the Second Life Library, and the experiences of users and virtual librarians using the service.

Read his whole post here:

Gaming Space at Allen Co. Public Library

Opening Week 027

Originally uploaded by acplyas.

Sean Robinson writes: “We have just opened our new library and things are going really well. One of the designs in the new building was the creation of this video gaming area. Katie Jabobs is running this area and came up with many of the design elements. This is proving to be so popular that I am amazed. I am a big fan of libraries developing in this area.”

Great Post about the Wii

Don’t miss:

John Kirriemuir ponders the Wii, and addresses library inplications and some library gaming innovators:

Because of the inspiring and thought-provoking nature of the games and gameplay, it’s an absolute must-get for any decent games research centre or group. If, in a few months time, an academic games research centre doesn’t have a Wii in a communal staff area, then it is questionable how serious they really are about video games and gameplay.

Library potential. Yes, it is suitable for use in a public library. The games are okay for people of all ages; the motion aspects of the game mean that it negates the criticism of gameplay being a sedentary activity. The games are very pro-social in nature, almost willing you to try them in multiplayer, as opposed to single player mode. Also, spectators get a lot more fun out of watching people play Wii games than last-generation button pushing titles. The difference now is that you aren’t just watching a game on a tv screen, you are watching real people playing a game that is also represented on a tv screen.

Some libraries are moving quickly on this. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburg acquired a Wii at launch and are using it heavily, as has a public library in North Carolina, while the Rochester Hills Public Library lend out Wii games.

A few words of caution, though. You’ll need a fair bit of space for this activity, especially for four-player games. Also, Wii gameplay, I suspect, is louder than games being played on other consoles – the noise coming from players and spectators. It’s been pretty loud here with a few people playing and watching. The distraction of motion may also cause a problem in some libraries where that isn’t the “done thing”. But maybe that’s a good thing. There’s also an increased danger of equipment being damaged by people who don’t use the strap, but this isn’t a problem with anyone who sensibly “straps up”.

For libraries: there’s no question. If you’ve got a suitable corner where there’s not a problem if it’s a bit noisy, a tv and a couple of hundred pounds, then go for it.

I especially like the idea of research centers having one of the sytems on hand. In light of this in-depth post and Jenny’s LTR Gaming in Libraries, maybe Dominican GSLIS needs some gaming systems on hand for classes and research.

Also, don’t miss this: < a href=""> for more about games and education.