Libraries, Relevant at Any Size

Relevant at Any Size: You Just Have To Do It

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You just have to do it. 

I think that in every situation it is good if you have a mantra, and for me the mantrathat comes with working in a small rural public library has been that you just have to do it. There’s no way around the work that needs to be done in small rural libraries. You see it when it comes through the door in the people that you serve. In a small town, people have planted their roots and change comes hard to the community. When the world shifts, the big cities are often at the forefront of the excitement and energy that comes with this kind of change. The small towns, tucked away in blanket of trees shielded from highways and the hustle and bustle, see these shifts as a hassle, a threat to the easy going life they’ve crafted in their small town. The residents in these towns just got to where they needed to be and now there’s a change? It’s not an easy thing for these people to process.

So you open your doors as a small rural public library and in comes the community. They’re wandering, a bit lost in this modern world. They very much belong in this world, but they’ve yet to find their footing and steady themselves on this new ground. That’s where these small rural libraries come in. You just have to do it. It may not have been your ultimate goal in life to grow up to work in a public library, only to day in and day out help folks figure out how to successfully navigate setting up a two factor authentication on Gmail when they don’t have their own computer and their cell phone is one of those prepaid limited minutes & data kind of a deal. No one wants to waste their data getting 6 digit authentication codes from Gmail, especially when that data costs money and they’ve got very little money to start. You just have to do it. As a librarian, you take a deep breath in, pull up a chair, and navigate through the entire process with the library guest. The ability to have and trust in your patience is a must. Eventually you get through the entire process. It either works out and the library guest is happy or you just blame it on Google. They can take it.  🙂

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You get some texts at 6am saying that you’re Youth Services Librarian is gonna be out sick on the 2nd day of Summer Reading. But you know what?You just have to do it. You know it’s gonna be a very busy day but sick people always need to stay away from healthy people in a work setting, so you figure out the plan and you make it work. You just have to do it. You take some time yourself to sit back at the Summer Reading Sign up desk and help people out. Eventually a few other employees will trickle in and staffing will be OK for the rest of the day. You get through it. With a smile and a friendly voice, you welcome every child into the library, chat with their parents or grandparents, and you sign them up for summer reading. You help them get to wherever they need to be at that point in time. You just have to do it. There’s no other option. You do it, you make it work, and you put positivity out into the world through your work.

This is the mantra for the small rural library. As I read the mantra once again, it feels like it’s this mashup of mantras and American “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” ideology. I hate that ideology, but for some reason it works here. In the small rural public library, you know that your job is to make good things happen for the residents of your community. You know they’re struggling with the massive shifts happening in our world right now. You know they feel left behind and that they can’t keep up. They feel like everyone has forgotten about them. So you know the work you have ahead of you and what needs to be done. You go to your library every day and you say this to yourself: You just have to do it.

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Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Video Games, Video Games in Libraries

Nintendo Switch Games at the Library

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Nintendo Switch games are now officially part of our circulating collection at the Benson Memorial Library. Our circulating video game began (from what I can tell) in around 2015 and since then has grown to 43 titles which have circulated a total of 891 times since January 2015. Don’t be deceived by 891 circulations in 3 years and 5 months. At my library, that amounts to about 20 circulations per month. We average around 5,400 total circulations a month, so while this collection is small it does cater to a specific audience that appreciates there being video games available to borrow at their local public library.

That’s the key thing to remember about circulating video game collections: circulating video game collections will never be your biggest circulating collection, but they will cater to a specific audience that appreciates there being video games available to borrow at their local public library. One of the things you have to remember about a circulating video game collection is the excitement they bring to the public library. When a video game fan comes to the library and sees a circulating collection, they’ll react in a positive way. They will be overjoyed by the fact that not only can they borrow games before they may purchase them (and video games are expensive!), but they will also be overjoyed because you are paying attention to their interests and by having a video game collection you are showing them that you care about their interests. This is something public libraries can do really well if they set their heads and hearts to it. When we as public libraries cater to everyone in our community, a positivity springs up that spreads throughout our community. Keep adding to that positivity and over time you will see not only the popularity of your library grow but you will also see positive change in the community. And that’s what it’s all about.

Libraries, Video Games

Gaming Programs For All Ages at the Library by Tom Bruno

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I’m excited about Tom Bruno’s new book, Gaming Programs For All Ages at the Library. Not only is Tom a most excellent, community focused librarian, but he’s also one hell of a gamer and he knows his stuff. I couldn’t think of a better person to be writing about gaming in libraries than Tom.

I got a chance to read through the book before it came out and let me tell you, this is a great resource to have if you’re looking into all things gaming at your library or even if you already have some gaming programs and collections in place. What this book does best is inspire the reader to keep trying, to keep growing, and to remember that gaming events really cater to a unique audience in your community. That’s one of the qualities of what great libraries do…they notice how they can reach out to everyone in their community. Gamers are a part of our communities, and Tom’s book will help you not only reach out and get them to the library but keep them there for years to come. I couldn’t recommend this book enough.

You can purchase a copy of Gaming Programs For All Ages at the Library by Tom Bruno here. Better yet, if you’re reading this here’s a promo discount code for 30% off of the book: RFLANDF30 (EDIT 6/5/18 this code only works in the USA and I will update later if/when I have an international code)


Here’s the official details on the book:

Gaming Programs for All Ages at the Library: A Practical Guide for Librarians
by Tom Bruno

Join librarian and lifelong gamer Tom Bruno on his quest to bring gaming to his library community, from bringing back classic board games such as Fireball Island to offering free play in the latest virtual reality games using the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive!

Gaming Programs for All Ages at the Library shows you how you can launch and support gaming programming in your library, including:

  • how to make the case for library gaming with your administration
  • how to acquire and loan gaming materials (whether or not you have the budget for them!)
  • how to publicize your library gaming programming
  • how to incorporate other library units into the gaming experience.

Everything from acquisitions to budgeting to circulation is covered in this practical guide — you’ll also learn about promotion, assessment, and experiential learning opportunities.

PLEASE NOTE: this isn’t a promoted post or anything like that. I don’t do those. I will probably get a free copy of the book at some point and that’s it.I’m doing this post for three reasons:

  1. I like Tom. I always have. He has a good and positive message at all times and he brings something good into this world.
  2. I love video games in libraries, and the more we talk about it and the more do it the better it will become. This books helps that mission.
  3. Along with Jenny Levine and Scott Nicholson, Tom names me as being part of what he calls The Dynamic Trio of Library Video Gaming in the book, and he also quotes some of my publications on video games and libraries and talks about how there was once a Ms. Pac Man machine on The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library. That was very kind of him. It was also very neat to be mentioned alongside these really great people.