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The Librarian's Guide to Gaming:

An Online Toolkit for Building Gaming ala @your library  logo



RIchard Gottlieb"Tabletop games provide a unique format for enabling children and adults to navigate through a society based upon laws. When a parent and child sit at the same table and play a game they are all bound by the rules of that game. How wonderful for children to see their parents having to obey they same rules that apply to them. It's democracy at its most grassroots level."

-Richard Gottlieb, Toy Industry Expert




Best Practices: Model Gaming Experience

See what other libraries are doing to deliver gaming experiences to their members. From Monopoly tournaments to Pokémon tournaments, gaming clubs, big games, Wii bowling for seniors, game design, and everything in between, use these libraries for inspiration!

Looking for more ideas? Library professionals across the country are using ALA communities, wikis, blogs, podcasts and email discussion groups to communicate best practices for providing literacy based gaming services to patrons of all ages.

Models are sorted into two categories: First Steps are easy, low-cost models for beginners; Next Steps feature models large in scope, scale and success.


First Steps

Ace of Games Festival and Tournament
Kellogg-Hubbard Library (VT)
A 10-week tournament in the middle of winter celebrates the modern board game.

After School Gaming Club
Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC)
Sessions included free play and tournaments for teens on four simultaneously run videogame consoles.

Game Nite
Colby College (ME)
A gaming even over January break designed with student input includes mini-golf, flashlight tag, board games and videogames.

Game On! Afterschool Tutoring and Game Club
Northwest School of the Arts (NC) &
Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC)
Video, board, and card games follow tutoring and homework sessions in the school library twice a month.

GameTap, Westmont Public Library (IL)
A subscription gaming service is installed on computers in the children's room.

Game Tournaments
John C. Fremont Library (CO)
A small rural library offers cash-prize tournaments with donated equipment, and evolves to a gaming corner and circulating videogame collection.

Get Your Game On: Videogames at the Library
Indiana Cooperative Library Services Authority (IN)
Feel free to download and modify the presentation and handouts from this training session.

Dungeons & Dragons Afternoon Adventures
Allen County Public Library (IN)
An annual 7-week summer D&D campaign for teens provided by a librarian gamemaster.

Information Literacy through Fantasy Football
University of Dubuque (IA)
A clever, short and engaging research activity develops information literacy skills and changed perceptions about research--and about the library.

Information Literacy Instruction Using Gaming Strategies
University of Dubuque (IA)
Literacy skills are developed in sessions that incorporate elements of good game design, such as continuous feedback, just in time learning, and active engagement.

Monopoly Tournament
Cornelius Branch, Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC)
A low-budget, mult-generational program with simple rules and inexpensive prizes.

National Gaming Day at UIUC
University of Illinois (IL)
Videogame free play event on National Gaming Day, 2008.

Open Gaming
Hennepin County Library (MN)
Console and board games for teens and adults, offered at several locations.

Open Gaming Study Break
University of Dubuque (IA)
During finals, students and faculty take a study break with games like Guitar Hero and DDR.

Game Club
Reidland High School (KY)
The high school chess club branches out into other board games, and hosts a game night and a big game.

Cyber Night
Reidland High School (KY)
After-hours weekend videogaming event, hosted by the gaming club.

RuneScape Club
Velma Teague Branch Library (AZ)
Monthly Local Area Network (LAN) party using a free fantasy themed Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game.

Scrabble Club
Woburn Public Library (MA)
Middle schoolers play this spelling game competitively, and often make it to the National Tournament.

Tweens & Teens Gaming
Pima County Library (AZ)
The only cost of this diverse program is refreshments! Teens & Tweens play board, console and computer games.


Next Steps

1960: The Making of the President
Oakfield-Alabama Middle-High School Media Center (NY)
Students learn about the election process in this historically-themed board game.

Ancient Civiizations with Middle School Students
Elba Central School District (NY)
Four modern board games compliment a unit on Ancient Civilizations.

Anime Con
Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC)
This Japanese cultural event includes a variety of activities, including gaming LAN gaming.

Dance Dance Revolution/Guitar Hero II Tournament
Ann Arbor District Library (MI)
Rhythm games rock and tournaments are king at AADL, and surprise! the latest releases of the games are not the most popular ones.

Digital Arts Workshop
Carvers Bay Branch, Georgetown County Library (SC)
An educational and fun opportunity for Carvers Bay Middle School students to learn to create music, snap digital photos, develop computer graphics, and shoot and edit video.

Game Studio
Hennepin County Library (MN)
This free program was the result of a museum partnership, and led to a teen mentoring program.

Game Maker Academy
Wilmette Public Library (IL)
Game Maker Academy is low-budget program that teaches young people how to create their own computer games, blending monthly club meetings, open lab sessions, and formal workshops.

Gaming Club
Carvers Bay Branch, Georgetown County Library (SC)
A gaming club increases teen reading for pleasure and library participation in a town with dropout and literacy issues among its teen population.

Gaming Initiative
University of Illinois (IL)
Through collections and curriculum support, the library supports innovative teaching and research partnerships, both within the academic community and between the campus and the gaming industry.

Gaming in the Classroom
University of Illinois (IL)
The library supports use of Civilization, a strategy videogame, in college classrooms

Gaming Zone for Adults
Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC)
Modern board games and Alienware PCs with complex M-rated games are offered for 18+ patrons.

Geocaching Big Game
Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC)
A geocache treasure hunt whose clues for the caches hidden across town are based on Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to tie into a community wide read.

In-House Circulation of DS Handhelds
Pierce County Library System (WA)
A suburban branch loans out DS handhelds and games for a 2-hour checkout.

Large Group Gaming: Smarty Pants at the Senior Center
Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC)
A program host reads trivia questions and works the controllers for a group of visually impaired adults.

Library WoW
Central Arkansas Library System (AR)
For the cost of the software licenses, World of Warcraft is installed on five library computers, and a series of free programs for beginning and advanced users is implemented.

Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC)
A five-week summer class for teens results in a film with content generated through Teen Second Life.

Madden Tournament
Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC)
The popular football franchise game draws a crowd across multiple branches.

Mario Kart/Super Smash Tournament
Ann Arbor District Library (MI)
Racing and brawling are popular competitive games for AADL teens.

Max: Board Games for Young Children
Genesee Valley BOCES (NY)
A board game about animals being chased by a cat teaches communication and collaboration.

Pokémon Tournment
Ann Arbor District Library (MI)
Handheld gaming is a hit during school breaks for elementary school age youth.

Power Grid
Letchworth Central School (NY)
Power Grid provides some powerful insights to high school students, about energy choices, scarcity of resources, and a free market economy.

Rocket Boys Big Game
Reidland High School (KY)
A two-day scavenger hunt for questions related to the events and setting of Homer Hickham's book, Rocket Boys.

Rock Band Tournament, Pima County (AZ)
A multi-branch competition that includes practice (free play), qualifying rounds, and a final tournament at the main branch.

Systemwide Teen Gaming Initiative
Columbus Metropolitan Library (OH)
A $40,000 investment puts gaming in all the branches, and encourages youth participation in traditional library programs.

Systemwide Teen Gaming
New York Public Library Metropolitan Library (NY)
The NYPL invests $600,000 for PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii consoles at 18 sites, with titles like Excite Truck, Tony Hawk’s Project 8, Brunswick Pro Bowling.

Teen Summer Reading Program Videogame Tournament
ImaginOn, Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC)
Action games like Soul Calibur and Super Smash Bros. Brawl inspire inter-branch competition.

Videogame Career Night and Free Play
Phoenix College Library (AZ)
Rather than banning games on the computers, the library seeks an academic spin: career exploration.

Wii for Seniors
Old Bridge Public Library (NJ)
Gaming with the Wii is a way to get seniors comfortable with new technology.

  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