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VIDEO GAME Librarians??

By Jackie Burrell
Tuesday, July 1st, 2008 at 10:14 am in Books, Technology & Video Games.

A library in Mission Viejo (Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee/Orange County Register/KRT) Nintendo librarians? A video game pavilion at the American Library Association conference? A million-dollar grant to “develop a national model for library gaming”?? Quick, someone check for locusts and plagues! Who’d have thought the ALA, that bastion of literacy, would ever promote video games?

“Libraries are adapting to new technology,” ALA President Loriene Roy told the Chicago Tribune in a story that ran yesterday. “It’s in the nature of the library to offer a wide range of material. It’s not the end of change for libraries.”

Nintendo‘s just as surprised as we are. And that video game booth at the ALA convention wasn’t some fluke either. A Syracuse University survey of public libraries last year found that 80 percent had video games on their library computers. Some 40 percent held actual video game events and 13 percent had Nintendo and Xbox. The surprising news? Nearly 75 percent of the video game devotees came back to check out a book.

So what do you think? Death of literacy? Publicity stunt? Cool way to bring new audiences into book-lined libraries? Click “comments” and weigh in.

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2 Responses to “VIDEO GAME Librarians??”

  1. Tonya Says:

    Video games in libraries? What’s next? Mario Brothers in the classroom?

    As much as I love technology, it pains me to see video games as an incentive to going to a library. As a college student, the library is where I go to study and do research. The library is my escape from distractions – somewhere where my friends can’t challenge me to a game of Guitar Hero. I love the atmosphere, the smell of books five-times my age…when I’m in a library, I want to read and learn.

    I don’t deny that video games will bring new audiences into libraries, but what about the kids who go to libraries to study and pick up a book? It’s not fair to them. If you want to read, go to a library, if you want to play video games, go to Chucky Cheese’s. There are things that just do not belong in certain places.

  2. Beth Gallaway Says:

    Jackie, this grant is all about literacy! Gaming is a literary activity. The average gamer spends four times as much time reading and writing ABOUT the game and gaming experience, and creating game content. Plus, there is a lots of reading inherent to games – if you can’t read, you can’t play! NPC chat, quest logs, maps, inventory, spells, directions, cheat codes, tips, gaming magzines, online forums, blogs, etc etc etc :)

    Don’t forget about NEW literacies! It’s not just about text anymore. Today’s learners need to be about to locate, decode, evaluate, disseminate and create stories and information in many formats.

    One purpose of the grant is to prove that people who go to the library for games – whether that’s gaming events, to check out games, or to play games online – RETURN to the library for other non-gaming programs and services :) We have a lot of anecdotal evidence, but want some hardcore research. :)

    Nintendo was an EXHIBITOR at the ALA conference. One of the presenters at the conference, Warren Buckleitner, said the DS is like 1 laptop for every child – it’s wireless and has lots of productivity software.

    I don’t have space to get into all the educational benefits of gaming. Read James Paul Gee’s book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. If you have a short attention span, Steven Berlin Johnson’s article in Discover Magazine Your Brain on Video Games is also excellent.

    Libraries have never been about books. We are about content :) Regardless of format, our content is INFORMATION and STORIES. Information and stories come packaged in audio, video, digital, and multimedia formats as well as text! And it’s all good.

    Thanks for covering this issue :)

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