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Game Librarian's Trial Meets Success

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the pushing-the-boundaries-of-library-space dept.

Games 15

Via Kotaku, the news that the Game Librarian's trial last year ended in sucess. From the article: "Seventy-seven PlayStation 2 titles have been added to the collection so far with at least a dozen still awaiting processing. Sadly, Culdcept, one of the games purchased in the initial batch of games at the end of 2004, is still on that list. It's a little short of the 100 game target I had thought was reasonable back when I started, but 77 seems like a pretty respectable number." We've previously discussed this gent's work to get videogames into his library.

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First Post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14568452)

First posters should be deleted and their asses sealed with hot pokers so they explode from a buildup of shit

PS2 Games? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14568537)

Rent and Rip...

Same problem with Library DVD collections.

Kudos to him for taking the initiative though.

Re:PS2 Games? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14568707)

That makes it different from netflix how? Other than that the library charges less for its membership and has fewer titles?

Re:PS2 Games? (1)

hoborocks (775911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14569154)

Same problem with VHS tapes, CDs, audio tapes, books, books on tape....what are you going for? A worldwide ban on library materials? DRM in the library? Or, just a first post on slashdot?

What is your point?

Re:PS2 Games? (1)

galdosdi (891570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14590064)

Except for one thing. It's not a problem at all for the librarian-- what do they care if the games, CDs, or DVDs get copied? That's Sony's loss, not the library's. Copy away.

Interesting tactic (3, Interesting)

mendaliv (898932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14568690)

I've gotta say, I think this is an awesome tactic to get kids back into the library. I know they won't be playing the games there, but they actually have to go in, take out the game, and leave the place.

Here's what I'd suggest to hook the kids:

1. Keep it up with the games, expand to other systems.
2. Start getting DVDs of popular anime in stock, strategically place that near the games.
3. Start stocking manga for said anime.

Yeah, not everyone likes anime and manga, but it's a thought. Maybe for the other video game freak kids, stock up on Sci-Fi and Tom Clancy.

Re:Interesting tactic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14571100)

Hell, oddly enough, my local library has an entire section dedicated to anime DVDs.

Re:Interesting tactic (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14571754)

I've gotta say, I think this is an awesome tactic to get kids back into the library. I know they won't be playing the games there, but they actually have to go in, take out the game, and leave the place.
If the goal was to get kids back into the library - yes this would be an awesome tactic.

But is the goal to get kids back into the library, or to produce increased circulation numbers so the library looks good when budget time comes? Is the goal to provide a resource to the community, or to make the librarians feel good about themselves because they see lots of kids circulating about? "We must be doing something right, we must be relevant - look at our numbers, look how crowded we are!

It's not a numbers game.

Left unadressed in the article are two large questions;

  • Should the library (a goverment funded organization) be competing with commercial organizations?
  • Is making video games available furthering the historical goals of a library as a repository of learning?

The last disturbs me greatly because I've been watching a worrisome trend in my local libraries away from research material and toward entertainment. Over the last five years, on average, for every dollar they spend on non-fiction - they spend ten on fiction. (They bought 500 (!) copies of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.) Even that dollar spent on non-fiction isn't spent very well. Over the same period, they bought over 200 diet cookbooks (mostly Atkins) - and only 20 volumes of food history. (And 18 of those were lightweight 'pop' histories.) For every dollar spent on books, they spend 35 cents on videos and DVD's - and just like the books, they vast majority of the money was spent on flavor-of-the-month recent hits. (And they consistently replace the flavors-of-the-month when they are lost or damaged, while classic and important movies wait months or years to be replaced - if they ever are.)

I started watching the local library after a customer of mine (I owned a book store) died and left a large collection of military history in outstanding condition to the library. Not one single one was added to the libraries collection. The library staff never even looked at them - they handed them straight over to the Friends of the Library. (Worse yet, when questioned, they weren't even interested in trying.) The old ladies that ran the Friends priced them like they were the usual discards they were given by the library to sell - they were sold for pennies on the dollar. They raised about a quarter of what they could have raised for the library to misspend on other books.

The article concludes with:

So at the end of the first year, having games in a library has been a complete success. They are popular with adults, children and teens and I've only heard the faintest of grumblings (mostly from older patrons) questioning why a library would carry, scoff, games. They are an accepted part of the collection now and it's hard to ask for anything more than that.
Yes, we can ask for more than that. We can ask the Game Librarian to justify his decision in terms of the role libraries play in our society. We can ask the Game Librarian whether placing games in the library is a positive example for society. We can ask the Game Librarian whether games in the library leave it a better place (not a 'cooler' place, not a 'more relevant' place, but a better place) than it was without games.

Libraries are like doctors. Their role is to give us what we need - not what we want. If we seek reasons why our society is providing fewer engineers, fewer critical thinkers, fewer educated people - one significant piece of the puzzle can be found in the attitude of the Game Librarian.

Re:Interesting tactic (1)

sockdoll (828227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14573346)

Libraries are like doctors. Their role is to give us what we need - not what we want. If we seek reasons why our society is providing fewer engineers, fewer critical thinkers, fewer educated people - one significant piece of the puzzle can be found in the attitude of the Game Librarian.

Libraries' roles vary from community to community, based on their charters or mission statements. It's pretty clear what your opinion is about what you want them to be, but that opinion isn't worth much unless you make it known to your community, and get yourself on the city council or the library board of directors or whatever it takes to make your opinion count.

Your "Friends of the Library" story is standard operating procedure for libraries all over the country. They have a process in place for deciding what books should go on their shelves, and it's not usually based on indexing and shelving whatever is given to them by individuals. It's too bad because many donated materials would greatly enhance their collections, but they have their reasons for following their procedure.

Every librarian I've talked to has said that their responsibility is to give their community what it wants, within certain bounds - not force it to eat it's literary vegetables. (That's what kids get shoved down their throats at school.) Yes, libraries are a community resource, and many strive to put reading in the best possible light, but the scope of that resource is larger than what you apparently want it to be. If you want libraries to go back to being books-only operations, you need to achieve a position in your community where you can effectively affect that change.

I also used to own a small bookstore, and it sounds to me like there's a hint of sour grapes in your post. You talk about libraries being in competition with business. Families with sufficient financial resources will continue to buy and/or rent games, movies, and music. Families that need to get the most out of their dollar will also borrow them from libraries. Libraries make sense as a community resource - a way to pool money, via taxes and charitable contributions, so people can enjoy print and electronic media that they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford for a single reading or viewing.

Maybe you need to communicate with your clients, and tell them that materials donated to the library will not go into their collection for lending to the public, but will be sold off for pennies on the dollar to go into private collections. Let them know that you'd be willing to work with the executor of their estate to get top dollar for their collection, so that the proceeds can be donated directly to the local libary, if that is the customer's wish.

Re:Interesting tactic (1)

makohund (10086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581960)

In terms of "public library" your view of what they "should be" is a good one in my opinion, but also a bit narrow.

I have some points to add to it:

The whole of the world's knowledge and wisdom is not contained soley in the realm of non-fiction. Fiction can be quite intellectually stimulating. Some can be considered art.

A library is not only a repository of knowledge, but of culture. Art, myths, legends, stories, fables, and so on (all fiction and presented in various formats from books to DVD to games) represent cultural elements that can be found in a library.

Remember, yesterday's pop might prove to be tomorrow's Shakespeare. Just as Shakespeare did.

A library is a resource for the whole community, not just the "brightest". Better for a person to learn some history via a "pop history" book than to not learn any at all. (The real deal might be beyond their comprehension/reading ability, or just scare them off.) Those finding the "pop history" book sufficiently interesting might very well feel encouraged to pick up some of the "better books" (shelved right there along side it) to learn some more. For example... a library doesn't expect an 8 year old to be reading heavy-duty non-fiction tomes, and provides material appropriate for them in the same subjects. Providing reference material for adults in varying degrees between what you call "pop" and what you might consider "good stuff" can be seen as an extension of the same philosophy.

Libraries are for, and have to cater to, the people paying the bills. That is the general public... not just part of the public. A library with the best collection in the world (by any person's judgement) with no people in there using it is a waste. Think of it this way... the high demand popular stuff is what subsidizes "the good stuff". It also brings people in the building and can act as a gateway to using "the good stuff". Stores have sales. Restaurant and bars have happy hour. Dealers give free samples. Libraries have popular books, movies, and music.

Another poster addressed collection development as it pertains to your donation story quite well, so I'll leave that alone.

BTW, many also have resources intended specifically for local business use as well. (Want to quickly find out what other businesses are in your immediate area? Or a new area you are thinking about moving/expanding to? Want to know who/where all of your competitors are? Want to mail an advertisement to all residences within a certain radius of your location? Ask your reference librarian about their electronic resources.)

Optical media (3, Interesting)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14569171)

I think the biggest problem with having optical discs in a library is you get people who just want to play the game or watch the movie, and don't really care how they treat the disc. Is it really so hard to make a little carrier for the discs, ones that you could even replace if they break?

Re:Optical media (1)

NMThor (949485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14570412)

This comes to mind: http://www.dskin.net/ [dskin.net]

This is new? (1)

NATIK (836405) | more than 8 years ago | (#14570807)

I don't know about other countries, but in Denmark we have been able to borrow tons of games from the libraries for many years, they have every game you can think of on all platforms (excluding games like WoW, EQ and the like for opvious reasons). So refering to my subject, is this new?

KC, MO library voted best video store in town (1)

greyfeld (521548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14571356)

I must say that I have found the libraries of the greater Kansas City area to be some of the best sources for optical media entertainment. The Kansas City, Missouri public library [kclibrary.org] system was recently rated [pitch.com] the best video store in the area by a local alternative newspaper. While the KC library does charge $1 to non-Friends-of-the-Library members for feature films, you can borrow TV, music video and documentary DVD and VHS at no charge for three weeks. The best part is that I can look at their whole cataogue on line and place a hold on any item at any of the branches and they will send it to the one closest to me for pick-up and return at no cost to me. Imagine NetFlicks for almost free and you get the picture. Plus I get some exercise walking the four blocks to the library from work on my lunch hour.

In addition to the KC, MO library the Johnson County, Kansas library [jocolibrary.org] system on the Kansas side of the line has a similar card catalogue and hold system. They do not charge for borrowing DVDs, however, and they also have a large selection of software from foreign language tutorials, test prep, kids learning, and yes, games. Many of them are older, but I have seen stuff like the EA sports games from 2004 and the Lord of the Rings games. Sorry haven't seen any platform stuff there yet.

Both of these libraries have numerous branches and having the video and software catalogue on line is just an amazing resource. The only thing that is a little frustrating is that sometimes things are not easy to find online. Ask your librarian to help with search terms, they've always been very helpful to me. If you haven't checked out your local library lately, I suggest you go take a look. If you find your library doesn't have these kinds of materials, ask why?

No CULDCEPT?!?! What a shame!! (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 8 years ago | (#14600002)

I mean, who would have ever thought of crossing Monopoly with Magic: The Gathering??

Who would have ever thought it was fun?

I highly recommend this game!

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