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.

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Family, Libraries, Life, Video Games

Play Video Games With Your Family

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My son Finn turned 8 on January 17 and one of his gifts was his very own copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. My wife Haley and I have been playing the game for over three years and haven’t stopped enjoying it. In those three years, Finn has created his own character in each of our towns and dabbled in the game here and there. As he got older and started learning how to read, one of the things we told him was that he could get his own copy of the game. His eighth birthday seemed like the perfect time to get him his own copy: he’s a pretty great reader, he’s got his own Nintendo 2DS, and it just felt right. We snagged him a copy of the new Animal Crossing: New Leaf Welcome Amiibo game and last night dove into starting up a new town for Finn.

He decided to call his town “Finntopia” and that his in game character would be known as Finnix because “I just like the letter X.” We cozied up on the couch as a family (minus his younger brother Aero, as he went to bed and this was a special Mom/Dad/Finn night) and helped him through the setup process of getting into his own town, finding where to put his house, and more.

Once  all of the setup was complete, Finn opened his town gates and invited Haley and I into his town. It was like the “Mom and Dad, I’d like to invite you to my first apartment/home” moment, but this time it was when he was 8 and it was in Animal Crossing. He showed us around his town, pointed out that he had some pear trees, and introduced us to some of his villagers. We then headed back to the train station but before we left did the parent thing and left him with some gifts and money to help him start his new life in Finntopia.

After playing for about an hour, it was 10pm and we told Finn we were getting tired. He said he was getting tired too. But he had a glow on his face that I will never forget: he finally got his own Animal Crossing town and he also got to spend some time with his parents playing video games. It was a great night where we all got a chance to enjoy something fun, learn something together, and best yet….hang out as a family.

Video games can be awesome family and community building tools!

I’ve written about how fun, learning, and community can happen during gaming in the past. You can read all of those here or head on over to Medium and read this collection on Nintendo games.

Libraries

Connecting the Arcade to Reading (Guest post by Jessica Meyer)

20150826_190149NOTE FROM JUSTIN: I had the great privilege of working with Jessica at the Chattanooga Public Library…in fact, I hired her! Jessica has awesome ideas and connecting the arcade to books was one of her best. I’ll shut up now and turn it over to the great Jessica Meyer…
Arcades are awesome. They are big tween/teen draws, they facilitate trans-literacy, allow socioeconomic groups to mix and make friends, and  are just really fun.
Our arcade pulls in big numbers – it and the button maker pull in delightfully obscene numbers in face. Only, after a while I noticed a trend with our arcade gamers- they don’t check out books or even seem to realize there are books here. As a book addict (yes, predictable, I know) this got under my skin. It ate away at me. I put a display in the arcade, not the most amazing but it always featured cool graphic novels, fiction about video games, and even some non-fiction about game design. When I set this up I was so excited – I just knew this was how I was going to sneak book reading into the lives of this kids.
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It didn’t work. I changed the books out about every week and half and when I was in the arcade playing with the gamers I would oh so causally bring the books into the conversation. Only twice were the books taken.
It bummed me out BUT I also saw it as an opportunity to try something new, think of something better. We have only a few rules in on our twee/teen floor but one was that each day a new game was put into each system and that was the game of the day. You didn’t like, come back tomorrow. Then I really listened to my kids – no matter how many times we told them it was one game a day, they asked if they could change the game. That was the answer – they could earn a game change. Instead of telling them same ol’ spiel I told them they could read any book for 20 minutes and get to change the game. 

I posted a sign in the arcade and told  a few leaders of the arcade teens. Then I made one of our comfy chairs next to the desk our the designated reading chair and kept a tab of the Google Timer open on my desktop. Teens started asking and reading right away.

Here’s how it works:
  1. The teens approach a librarian and ask to change the game
  2. Teens pick out a book, OR get some awesome reader advisory for a book
  3. Read for 20 minutes
  4. Pick out a new game and be the first person in rotation to play it
It was so awesome. I had to amend the rules that a game could only be changed every two hours per system so that the reader would have at least two hours with that game. The kids had to read near us but they could read anything they wanted. This facilitates much awesome reader advisory – especially for reluctant readers.

In the summer I put in our least popular games and had readers change the game at least 2 times a day, typically more. At least two kids told me they did their entire summer reading requirements while in our comfy gamers chair. More than once I had teens ask if they could wait to change the game until they finished a chapter or even their entire graphic novel.They wanted to keep reading. It was so awesome.

(Read more from Jessica! Her blog Bathtub Reader can be found here)