Making the Case for Gaming @ your library
Advocacy is seeking support for a practice, service or point of view, to everyone from to colleagues to library members to potential users to lawmakers. Everyone can be an advocate, and you can advocate to everyone.
Develop an elevator speech – a quick and positive response that you can use as a sound bite, a positive answer to a negative question, a quick response to a casual inquiry.
Scott Nicholson's annual gaming census helps to tell the whole story, and can support your case for gaming at the library. Additional research and data may be gleaned from the resources in the History or Bibliography sections of this toolkit.
Advocacy Best Practices
Develop your pitch. Julie Scordato at Columbus Metropolitan Library regularly presents on Advocacy topics. Her Advocating for Gaming presentation follows.
Bring your colleagues along. Institute gaming as part of your staff development day.
Keep staff in the loop. Carvers Bay Branch (Georgetown Public Library, Hemingway SC) developed a Fact Sheet to make sure everyone knew what was going on with their gaming club.
Find a supporter who's got your back. Make sure there is some support in place before you broach the subject.
Be prepared to answer tough questions from critics who may include press, parents, non-gamers, even gamers who may think that recreation has no place in the library We've compiled a list of FAQs to help provide responses to common issues.
Look outside of the library field for help. Pay attention to news sites like Board Game News and Joystiq, and be aware of excellent advocacy resources such as The Escapist (tabletop gaming) and the Video Game Voter's Network.
Write a proposal. Jack Martin (NYPL) and Julie Scordato (CML) both wrote formal, detailed proposals outlining gaming services at their multi-branch library systems, and presented it to their library board, citing smaller scale model program successes as part of their presentation.
Gaming in Action. Gaming is experiential -- you have to try it to "get" it. Borrow a console or some board games and incorporate play into your next staff development session.
Staff Training. The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County NC provides a Technology Summit annually that includes gaming as part of continuing education topics, and bi-annual Teen Service Retreats that include gaming as part of continuing education topics. PLCMC developed a staff exchange program and Tech Scholars program. Any technology (not just gaming) staff can arrange to come to ImaginOn and learn. Tech Central staff at ImaginOn help the participating branch however in whatever way needed: covering the desk, giving or assisting in a program, etc. The Tech Scholars program is through Virtual Village at Main Library and encourages staff to develop a technology project for six months and work in Virtual Village for that time. Previous projects have involved game design.
Sample staff trainings:
Make your triumphs public! Document success and build community through a blog that hosts pictures and comments from staff and attendees.