Must Check Out a Library Book 11

Must Check Out a Library Book, originally uploaded by mstephens7.

From an anonymous submission comes this newspaper clipping – public library X is requiring proof of a book checkout “within the past two weeks” for young people to participate in “Game Day.”

I just don’t know where to even begin with this.

11 thoughts on “Must Check Out a Library Book

  • eli

    I’ll begin. THIS IS FU¢KING INSANE. Way to send a “we know what you want to do and we’ll let you do it even though we’d really prefer that you wanted to do what we want you to do, so, as long as you can provide proof that you’ve gone through the motions of appearing to want what we want you to want (because we don’t even trust you enough to believe you when you say you checked something out) we’ll be willing to let you do something. We won’t say what, but if you call us so we can increase our phone reference stats, we might tell you, provided that the person on the desk has a clue about the event in the first place and doesn’t have a bad attitude about the fact that you’re interested in such things” message.

    This also positions using the library’s collection as work. As we say here in the Intertubes….


  • Joe

    I see your FAIL and raise you an EPIC FAIL. Excellent example of a library not understanding their patrons, their youth, or their relevance.

  • Beth

    Besides the obvious problem of ensuring you don’t attract anyone new to the library, which is one of the biggest benefits of gaming. Why is the library so self absorbed that they believe all reading must come from them? I really don’t care if a kid reads a library book, their cousin’s copy of Lord of the Rings, or fanfiction it’s all good and it has little to do with game day.

  • catherine

    I hope this library doesn’t have aggressive overdue and fine policies that block kids from checking out books when they get too high. If you’re going to make circulation a condition of program attendance, you may as well just tell them, “You’re not welcome here until we get our money”. And what about kids who have lost their cards, or whose parents/guardians will not or cannot authorize their kids’ even having one? If you work for a large city or county system, there’s often not much you can do about circulation or registration policies. Programs, however, are a way to cultivate relationships with patrons who are not able to borrow. When you cut off kids from programs, you’re not giving them the chance to engage with the library and its staff, and that goes a long way towards turning them into non-patrons when they get older.

  • james


    While I agree with your overall point about inclusive programming, we tell patrons “You’re not welcome here until we get our money” every day. They won’t owe money unless they have already violated library policy. Even though I’m in the library every day, I still sometimes forget to renew or return items and when that happens I pay the fine when I can afford it or refrain from checking out when I can’t.

    Making following the rules a condition of continued access to library resources is more effective at preventing loss than a “do whatever you want with zero consequences” approach and it’s more fair to the patrons who do return materials on time.

    Also, “parents/guardians [who] will not or cannot authorize their kids’ even having [a library card]” aren’t very likely to allow them to play games there either.

  • more for less

    Why don’t you guys myob. Especially you, Michael. You’ve got your head so far up your 2.0 ssa that you can’t see the library might feel that reading — and yes, using the library for more than games — is something they want to impress upon the young people who come there. Otherwise, when it comes time to account for “what’s your role and mission” questions, it won’t be, “well we have a hell of a Wii Night each month.”

  • more for less

    … and another thing, while I’m riding my horse … you put this tihs out there without ever bothering to check the context. The library in question could have very good reasons for doing what they do. Like have you ever heard of answering to a board that may have made that a requirement for game night. I’m assuming you have tenure at the little school where you teach, so you can pretty much do any thing you want w/o risking your job. Most of us in the working sector of public libraries have other people “helping’ us run our libraries. It’s so nice of you to post these little peccadillos, so you and your ilk can make fun of them.

  • Leigh Anne

    I would love it if somebody from the library in question WOULD give us the context, because I know I’d like to hear it before I draw a conclusion. I myself am a reader AND a gamer, so I have some reservations, about anything that suggests either/or paradigms.

    However, I can also tell you this: NOBODY goes into their library and says, “Let’s see, how can I ruin lives and upset people today?” There IS a context, and I think we need more information before we all start jumping down each other’s throats.

    I’m just saying. Merry Christmas….

    Leigh Anne

  • Kaylin

    I’m not quite as outraged as the rest of you… I’ve heard a lot of stories from a childrens’ librarian friend of mine about how parents will take their kids to the library, then deny them books that they desperately want to read, saying “we’re only getting movies today.” This kind of requirement (which I hope they don’t do for ALL their events, regardless) can be good in situations like that, give children an extra boost to get the books they want to read.

    I think Catherine has a lot of good points, things worth thinking about, but ultimately libraries are institutions of learning, not gaming, so we need to make cultivation of learning a higher priority than ‘free gaming with no restrictions’ – I’d be willing to bet the majority of these kids can play whatever game they like at home or at a friend’s house anyway.

  • Batarang

    Is gaming considered learning? What about using Facebook? I don’t do either, but there is a huge amount of things that can be learned from doing both.

    In my experience, I would say that gaming is positively affecting the teens that visit the library. It gives them an “in” with the staff…they became more familiar with rules/policies and more accepting of them because they were engaged with staff in situations where they felt more comfortable (less formal). This can happen outside of gaming, but does not occur as easily or quickly. Basically, we let them know that we value what they’re all about and interested in and then they are more likely to value what we’re more interested in. Also, this opens up the door for kids to feel better about coming to library folk for questions with homework or any thing else they can think of–don’t be surprised when the gamers start asking for information on a variety of subjects that require significant research.

    I’m all for reading, but I’m more for learning and information which can be had watching an Expert Village vid or exchanging tips/tricks on how to burn through the rope in order to get the key which unlocks the door to the hidden treasure chest on level five. Do I like it when I hear a mother say that a child can’t get a book, but can get 5 videos? No, but all that means is I have more work to do to reach the mother through the child next time they come in. Engage the child by placing books/magazines/etc. in their hands and most of the time, the parent will come around. Sometimes it takes several visits, but it will happen in most cases.

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