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The Librarian's Guide to Gaming:

An Online Toolkit for Building Gaming ala @your library  logo



Allan Kleiman"Even though I am not an advocate for formal evaluations, it is important in however you do it to speak to participants, document your program, develop and publicize future events based on your outcomes."


~Allan Kleiman,
Old Bridge Public Library
Old Bridge, NJ


Telling Your Story: Evaluation & Assessment Tools

Evaluations may be formal (a pre-survey and post-survey) or informal (taking photos, asking participants to complete the sentence, "gaming at the library was..."). What IS important is that some kind of program assessment is conducted, to gauge your successes and repeat amd expand them.

Evaluation can be useful to determine the future course of gaming events at your Library. Pictures of seniors in the local newspaper with the date of the next event can be a powerful public relations tool for those just thinking about gaming. Tweens and teens can point to these photos of friends and classmates in the library or in the newspaper as a way to let their parents know that gaming is recreational, social, and educational.

Informal Evaluations

Keep statistical data. These could be simple door counts, tracking age, grade, gender. If you are having tournament events, try doing an hour-by-hour count. Another count to include is spectators. Often when gaming with children and tweens, parents stay and watch their children either play or compete. They are part of the event, too!

Require pre-registration for the event. This will allow you to determine how many may/may not show up for an event. Open registration until the program begins doesn’t allow for you to have an idea of equipment needs, especially for a tournament event. Closed registration for larger attended events can provide staff with the ability to manage the event better. Keep a waiting list. Count the numbers that signed up vs the numbers that showed up. Can you come to any conclusions in regard to “success?”

Bring a camera. There is no such thing as too many photos. Success isn’t always measured in numbers: sometimes it is measured by the reactions of those gaming. Remember to jot down the names of the gamers based on your photos so that later you don’t have to go through the clearance slips and try and match up names. Visit the legal section for tips on how to provide a “photography clearance” for those under 18, signed by parents, to provide the library the ability to exhibit photos in the library, on your website, and in the local newspapers and possibly on social networks, like Flickr.Of course, video is also welcome!

Ask attendees what they think. Formal surveys may not tell enough about a gaming event. Ask participants why they attended; what would they like to see at the next event; do they prefer open gaming or tournament events? This can be done as a podcast that you can edit and post on your library’s website.Older adults (for whom gaming is a newer experience) may have more informative comments than some of the tweens or teens

Document the no-shows, too. Some libraries experience low attendance at their gaming events, most particularly with older adults. Tie these gaming events into another type of program, such as a technology event or a "Grandparents and Me" event to get older adults interested and in the library. Once the seniors have experienced gaming and feel comfortable, they will be back on their own. It is important to introduce gaming on a regular basis for this age group for at least 4-6 events to ensure success and a growing of the audience.

Writing a Formal Evaluation

To create your evaluation, determine who your gaming experience is going to serve. Then, plan for your success by identifying your goals. Do you want to bring in new users? Introducing new technologies? Market other library services and programs? Raise library visibility? Figure out how to measure this success - what are the indicators that your goals were achieved? Finally, decide what kind of story you want to tell to the stakeholders you have identified.

Program Evaluation/Assessment Checklist

Gaming Census
What data should you collect and track? This annual gaming census by Dr. Scott Nicholson is modified slightly every year.

Gaming Title Survey
Ask your users what games they want to play at your videogame program.

Activities Survey
Track what users are playing by doing a sweep every 15 minutes to record activity.


Pre & Post Surveys

Short, generic evaluation for participants to evaluate their gaming experience.

Fantasy Football Session Evaluation, University of Dubuque (IA)
Includes questions about attitudes towards research and librarians, before and after the session activities.

Scratch Evaluation, Hennepin County Library (MN)


Program Surveys

Gamelab Beta Survey, University of Syracuse (NY)

Evaluation, Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenberg (NC)
Focuses on the information the library wants to present to stakeholders.

Gaming Day Evaluation, Pima County Library System (AZ)
Includes a question about zip codes.

Kids Tech: Animation Program Evaluation, Hennepin County Library (MN)
Short evaluation.

Rocket Boys Big Game Evaluation, Reidland High School (KY)
Over half of the student participants completed this online evaluation.

Teen Tech Squad Eval, Hennepin County Library (MN)
Aimed at teen volunteers who assisted with program.

Videogame Program Evaluation, Ann Arbor District Library (MI)

Videogame Program Evaluation, Columbus Metropolitan Library, (OH)

  That Was Then: A brief history of gaming in libraries.

This Is Now:
A snapshot of gaming in libraries today.


Talking Points: Connecting games & literacy.

Tools to measure your success.

  First Steps:
Easy, low-cost models for beginners

Next Steps:
Models large in scope and scale.

Gaming @ your library is an initiative of the American Library Association.
This initiative is generously funded by the Verizon Foundation