Nintendo Switch: A Guide for Public Libraries


When it comes to gaming in public libraries, I have always been a fan of the entire movement, especially when it comes to Nintendo consoles. There’s something great about a Nintendo console that works so well in public libraries. Libraries are community centers for everyone and are dedicated to promoting literacy, play, curiosity, and community. When I think of video games that promote these same values, my head immediately goes to Nintendo. You’ve got literacy covered with the epic quests and great storytelling in their LEGEND OF ZELDA franchise. You have play and curiosity covered in pretty much every Nintendo game, but let’s toss out the SUPER MARIO BROS. series for all things play and their exciting new NINTENDO LABO platform for curiosity as two examples. And finally with their emphasis on collaborative gameplay and fun multiplayer experiences in games that encourage people to work together and have fun, nobody does it better than Nintendo. Pop in any of the MARIO PARTY games, maybe ARMS, and even the great ink based shooter SPLATOON and you’ve got a mini community full of fun at your fingertips.

When all is said and done, it really is a no-brainer for libraries to consider both having Nintendo Switch games avaliable to borrow at their libraries and also to have a Nintendo Switch ready to play for patrons at all times. But how do you pull this off? In this post you’ll hopefully find all of the answers to your questions about the Nintendo Switch and Public Libraries.


I briefly touched upon this in my other post on Switch games here on this site but I will go into greater detail here today. Nintendo Switch games are much smaller than most everything we circulate at libraries, so what will we do to secure these items?

The easiest solution is to keep the Switch game cases out in the public but to not have the games in the cases. This is an easy theft proof solution that will still allow those browsing the library to pick up the game case, look at the cover art and the back of the game, and make solid decisions about what game(s) they’d like to borrow. It’s all about the library patron, and in this instance you are giving the patron a chance to handle the game case and really enjoy that browsing experience.

But what do you do with the games themeselves? They are so tiny and easy to misplace that there needs to be something that you keep the games in behind the desk. Luckily, a great solution exists in cases such as this one and this one. These handy cases will keep the actual tiny cartridge safe behind the desk and staff can use these to locate the game, put them in the display case, and check them out as needed. You’ll just want to make sure that you staff are able to match up the correct game with the correct case. These Switch cartridges are tiny, so perhaps some internal labeling system for these tiny cartridges may work for your library.


This is in no way a definitive list, and it also should be noted that there are a few of these games that have been announced but are not available until later 2018/early 2019. For now, these are the games that I’d recommend. If there’s interest in this post, I’d be happy to update this every 6 months with new additions.

  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Super Mario Party
  • 1-2 Switch
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy
  • Mario Tennis Aces
  • Minecraft: Switch Edition
  • Arms
  • Hyrule Warriors
  • New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
  • Super Smash Brothers Ultimate
  • Diablo III: Eternal Collection
  • Lego Harry Potter Collection
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2
  • Mega Man 11
  • Undertale
  • Overcooked 2
  • Captain Toad Treasure Tracker
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
  • Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection
  • Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
  • Kirby Star Allies
  • Bayonetta 2


Storing the system and keeping it secure is an issue we’ll dive into right now. While the Switch is designed to encourage portable gaming, this is exactly what you won’t want at your library. The solution? I think it is best to Switch docked and to not use it as a portable system.

In the past I have used this company for other security systems for video games and I’ve been happy with what they offer. It looks like this is their Switch option:


Video gaming at public libraries works best when the action is viewed as a passive program. There are times where a more formal program, such as a video game tournament or a themed event, require some staff involvement, but my recommendation is to treat all gaming (and gaming with the Switch) as a passive program and an old time arcade experience. With that in mind, I recommend having the controllers for the Switch out and readily available at all times.

What kinds of controllers should you have? The Switch has two options: the main option, called the Joy-Con, and the more typical video gaming option, the Pro Controller. Some games (such as the great party game 1-2 SWITCH) require the joy-con, while other games can go either way. I did some research, but it looks like there are no games that require just the Pro Controller.My thought is to have the Switch and a few Joy-Cons and few Pro Controllers ready to use with the system. Getting moreJoy-Cons and Pro Controllers can be expensive, but I think this is the best solution possible to ensure that our library guests can pick the way they play games in our libraries. Worried about theft? In the libraries where I have worked in the past we have always kept these kinds of controllers out and we have not had any issues with them being stolen. Trust your patrons first, and if this doesn’t work out you can always develop another plan.


  • Splatoon 2
  • Arms
  • New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
  • Super Smash Brothers Ultimate
  • Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection
  • Kirby Star Allies

Once again, this is not a definitive list and if there is interest in this post I will update it with new titles as they come out. The key with video gaming in libraries is to always present an easy to pick up and easy to dive in experience that leaves the library guest with a smile on their face. A passive programming, open video gaming setup allows experts and novices to come together and enjoy the gaming experience, so it is wise to have something set up that is easy to access and enjoy. Library video gaming like this is meant to dip your toes in the water, not provide a fully immersive experience.

When it comes to managing the titles you have avaliable to play i your library, you will want to strongly consider going all digital with your games. With all of your games digitally stored on the Switch, you and your library guests can easily access the games they want to play without having to unlock the security system and swap out a cartridge.  However, before you start downloading your Switch games you will want to make sure you get a bigger micro SD card for your system. The internal storage amount offered on the Switch is a paltry 32GB and in no time you will run out of space. I recommend at least a 256GB Micro SD card for your Switch at the library.


This post would not be complete if I did not mention the Nintendo Labo platform, Nintendo’s attempt to bring gaming, construction, design, and the maker movement into their world. I wrote a fairly detailed piece on this for Information Today a few months back, so please be sure to check that out when considering the Labo for your library. I also highly recommend reading Michael Seidlinger’s piece The Labo and the Library before jumping into the great world of the Labo.

The only catch I can see with the Labo is that it is a one time building experience and that it is a fairly long and involved process. You’ll get one program out of building the Labo, but the joy comes in using the Labo afterwards. It is a great “look at this neat bit of technology” kind of display that encourages library guests to have fun, to play, to learn, and experience something as a community.

Currently there are 3 Labo Kits available: The Variety Kit, The Robot Kit, and the Vehicle Kit.

Thanks for reading, and please do keep checking back. I will update with future posts talking about the great Nintendo Switch & Public Libraries.


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