Games in Libraries Episode 11!

March 3rd, 2009

Listen up at

Top stories include:

  • the Request for Proposals for the Libraries, Literacy & Gaming grant
  • the launch of the ALA Librarian’s Guide to Gaming: an Online Toolkit for Building Gaming at the Library
  • information about Scratch Day, May 16
  • A review of Duck Duck Go
  • A review of the Wii Fit
  • A second look at Little Big Planet
  • An success story about gaming in a rural library in CO

We welcome your submissions for upcoming episodes! The next deadline for audio files and show notes is April 1, 2009 – no foolin’! Send to

Press Release: ALA Releases Gaming Toolkit!

March 2nd, 2009

Contact: Dale Lipschultz
Literacy Officer
ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services
(312) 280-3275

For Immediate Release
March 2, 2009

ALA releases gaming toolkit

CHICAGO – Libraries are changing and dynamic places, and no better evidence of that exists than the spread of gaming in the nation’s public, school and academic libraries.

In recognition of this trend and the increasing value of gaming to literacy improvement, the American Library Association, with assistance from a $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation, has developed an online toolkit to aid librarians in serving this growing constituency.

The Librarian’s Guide to Gaming:  An Online Toolkit for Building Gaming @ your library offers content contributed by expert gaming librarians across the country.  The toolkit includes a wide range of resources to help librarians create, fund and evaluate gaming experiences in the library.

Games, from traditional chess games to authentic  board games to popular video games, help libraries fulfill their mission by providing educational, cultural  and recreational resources for patrons of all ages.

“Games of every type play an important role in developing fundamental competencies for life,” said ALA President Jim Rettig. “They require players to learn and follow complex sets of rules, make strategic and tactical decisions, and, collaborate with teammates and others, –all things they will have to do in college and in the workforce.”

By providing grant dollars to fund the project, Verizon recognizes the growing importance of gaming in promoting literacy.

“We at the Verizon Foundation believe that learning is not only for the hours between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the classroom,” said Albert J. Browne, national program director and vice president of education and technology for the Verizon Foundation. “We believe that libraries can help children learn more and continue to learn even when they are not in a classroom environment.

“We also think gaming in itself is a powerful tool that has an amazing ability to help in learning 21st Century skills,” he added.

Librarians are also recognizing the potential of gaming. On Nov. 15, hundreds of libraries across the country celebrated the ALA’s first annual National Gaming Day @ your library.  Libraries of all types joined in the celebration by registering for two national gaming activities: a national video game tournament and board game challenge.

Evidence of the growing influence of gaming on library programming is backed by recently collected data. In 2007, a pilot study was conducted by Dr. Scott Nicholson, University of Syracuse.

Four hundred randomly selected public libraries responded to the survey. The study found that at least seven out of every 10 supported gaming, four out of 10 public libraries run gaming programs, including both board and Web-based games, and more than eight out of 10 libraries allowed patrons to play games on library computers. Nicholson wrote, “Over the last few years, some libraries have been turning to gaming activities like Dance Dance Revolution as a way of bringing in new demographic groups and exposing them to library services.”

For additional information contact: Dale Lipschultz, Literacy Officer, Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, by phone, (312) 280-3275, or e-mail, dlipschultz (at) ala (dot) org.

You can also click on for more information.

Ten "Libraries, Literacy and Gaming" Grants Announced

February 23rd, 2009


For Immediate Release

Contact: Steve Zalusky

Manager of Communications, ALA Public Information Office

(312) 280-1546
Ten Libraries, Literacy and Gaming Grants announced

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) Office for Literacy and Outreach Services is seeking applications from public, school and academic libraries interested in developing and implementing innovative literacy gaming services for youth ages 10-18.

This program is part of ALA’s Libraries, Literacy and Gaming initiative funded by Verizon.

Ten $5,000.00 grants will be awarded to libraries clearly demonstrating creativity, capacity, sustainability and a strong commitment to literacy-related gaming services. In addition, the winning libraries will receive ongoing support and technical assistance from a team of nationally recognized library gaming experts. Winners will be announced during National Library Week April 12-18, 2009. The grant application is available online at . All applications must be submitted by 11:59 pm, Friday, March 20.

“There is no doubt that gaming and literacy go hand-in-hand. Board and video games come with text of all kinds including instructions, menus and much more. Learning the language and mechanics of any game, from chess to Little Big Planet, involves acquiring a new vocabulary and a new set of 21st century literacy skills,” said Dale Lipschultz, Literacy Officer, Office for Literacy and Outreach Services.

Gaming is one example of how libraries continue to change to meet the needs of their communities and users, offering innovative programs and services that educate, entertain and expand interaction with their patrons.

On Nov. 15, hundreds of libraries across the country celebrated the ALA’s first annual National Gaming Day @ your library.  Libraries of all types joined in the celebration by registering for two national gaming activities: a national video game tournament and board game challenge.
For additional information about the grant contact: Dale Lipschultz, Literacy Officer, Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, by phone, (312) 280-3275, or e-mail,

Celebrate Scratch Day, May 16, 2009!

February 23rd, 2009

On Saturday May 16, 2009, MIT is sponsoring Scratch Day! Various organizations will be hosting Scratch events across the globe, and libraries have  been especially invited to participate. The Scratch Team recognizes the important role libraries play in informal (and formal) learning and appreciates the technological infrastructure that our buildings support. Register and get more information at the official Scratch Day website at

Scratch is a free software tool that allows anyone to create animation, interactive stories, computer game projects and more. It was designed and developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Lab at MIT, and has a strong international community of followers. The Scratch website has hundreds of thousands of projects uploaded, any of which can be downloaded, remixed and uploaded. The site has  discussion forums and lots of support for novice users.

Libraries have started to use Scratch as the basis for technology programming for youth. In the Minneapolis area, Hennepin County Library has been using it for almost three years with much success; Hennepin County Library is implementing an IMLS Nation of Leaders Demonstration grant that brings the project to a set of five national partners. Now, libraries around the globe have an opportunity  to become involved in the Scratch-in-Libraries movement!  Scratch isn’t just for youth – Hennepin County Library has had success with Scratch with adults as well as with children as young as eight years old.

If you are interested in participating in Scratch Day, here are your next steps:

  • Create an account on the Scratch Day site, to get updated information from the Scratch Day Team. The site will include resources for developing programs.
  • If you use Facebook, join the group Scratch On as another way to stay in touch with the project.
  •  Email Jennifer R. Nelson if you’re interested and would like to be on her distribution list-  The IMLS Project Team plans to develop a couple of lesson plans that  can guide your program/workshop.
  • Start working with your IT department to get Scratch installed on your computer and those in your computer lab.  Open up Scratch and get a feel for it; visit the Scratch website and look at some of the projects and galleries.

New study on videogaming and violence

February 22nd, 2009

Andrew K. Przybylski, Richard M. Ryan, and C. Scott Rigby undertook six studies at the University of Rochester (NY) going on the belief that violence adds little to enjoyment or motivation for typical players. The results of “The Motivating Role of Violence in Video Games” printed in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in February 2009 showed that “enjoyment, value, and desire for future play were robustly associated with the experience of autonomy and competence in gameplay;” in other words, the complexity of games is more highly valued than carnage.

Games in Libraries Episode 10!

February 16th, 2009

Listen up at The January episode features content from the Games and Gaming Member Initiative Group at the ALA Midwinter meeting in Denver CO. Deadline for submissions for episode 11 is March 1, 2009 – send your .mp3 file to

Librarians Rockin' by Elizabeth Bricquet

February 5th, 2009

 Librarians Rockin by Elizabeth Briquet

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is offering Direct Service Grants for Community Building Through Videogames funded by IMLS.  As some libraries are gearing up and working on their proposals, they have been speaking with their communities about it. Editorial cartoonist Elizabeth Bricquet created the above cartoon, which appeared in an editorial in the Kingsport Times News.

Though the lovely ladies featured in the cartoon bear no resemblance to them, the librarians at the Kingsport Public Library in Kingsport, TN love the cartoon and have already contacted the artist about making t-shirts out of the cartoon.  As Helen Whittaker, Director of the Kingsport Public Library and Archives, noted “We thought it was a hoot.  It shows librarians adapting to new technology and cultural changes.  It also shows their outreach efforts to the community as libraries expand their programs to meet changing needs.”

Thanks to Lindsey Patrick Wesson, Continuing Education Coordinator, Planning and Development at Tennessee State Library and Archives, for permission to repost.

Gaming in the News

February 4th, 2009

In case you missed it, the January issue of American Libraries featured a cover story on “Gaming @ the Library” by Dale Lipschultz. The article connects games to literacy, updates readers on the $1 million Verizon grant received last June, and features best practices in gaming from experts around the country. In the same issue, Scott Nicholson’s article “Reframing Gaming” discussed the results from the 2007 Gaming census.

Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation game consoles encourage patrons to engage with one another at the Houston (TX) Public Library.

Melinda Wenner addresses “The Serious Need for Play” in the Scientific American, January 2009, citing childhood play as crucial for “social, emotional and cognitive ­development.”

John Lancaster’s article, “Is It Art?” published in the January 2009 issue of the London Review of Books makes an argument that videogames are a medium whose importance and cultural ubiquity should be equivalent to that of film or television.

In Janaury 2009, the New York Times covered the release of AudiOdyssey, an M.I.T. gamelab videogame designed for visually impaired gamers.

Two new blogs to add to your feed reader

  • Jim Peterson, writes about the technological evolution of the Goodnight Library, including the challenges of implementing gaming, at
  • Bob Beck, Computer & Network Services at the Central Arkansas Library System, will be chronicling an ongoing World of Warcraft program at the library at

Also of interest, though not directly related:

Amazon launches a casual games service, with FREE games to  download and play, and others to download and purchase for $10 or less. Is this a service you might take advantage of at your library?

Notes from the Games & Gaming Member Initiative Group (GGMIG) meeting at Midwinter

January 29th, 2009

15 people attended the Games & Gaming Member Initiative Group (GGMIG) Meeting at ALA Midwinter on Saturday January 24 in Denver, CO. If you missed the session, it was recorded; excerpts will be appearing on the next Games in Libraries podcast  in mid-February.

Convener Scott Nicholson, Syracuse University, reported that the GGMIG is focused on games of all types across all types of libraries, and has a 3-year life span. It will be dissolved in 2011 if our mission to integrate games  & gaming in all of ALA is successful. At that point, it could continue as a Round Table; 600 signatures would be needed to effect this change.

To “join” the MIG, add your name to the list on the ALA Gaming Wiki.  This is a sharing group; bring someone next time!  Next meeting scheduled for Sat morning, July 11, in Chicago at Annual.

You can subscribe to the GGMIG mailing list. The LibGaming group is currently the best place to get information about GGMIG proceedings, and to connect with other librarians interested in gaming.  ALA Connect, an online community for ALA discussion groups, MIGs,  and divisions, will be debuting soon. One of its features is the ability to  locate other members based on interest. The GGMIG community at ALA Connect will most likely supplant both mailing lists.

A reminder: gaming in libraries = board games, card games, big games, mobile games, role-playing games & videogames

In the first year of the GGMIG’s existence:

  • The Games & Gaming Podcast has been going full force, with nine episodes published.
  • Gaming was the cover story in the Midwinter issue of American Libraries;  free copies were at the CCC and it will be archived online.

Dale Lipschultz, ALA reported on the Verizon Grant. Funds have been used to:

  • Convene an expert panel
  • Develop the Librarians Guide to Gaming an Online Toolkit, a resource to  help libraries start gaming programs by providing tools, resources, advice & other stuff, starting with advocacy, cost, and next steps: when you have a lot of money
  • There is money to fund 10 libraries a 1-time grant of $5000 to do a gaming initiative for youth age 10-18; a RFP is in development. Partnerships will be encouraged; public school & academic libraries. The panel will be looking for creative, innovative programs from libraries that have the staff & resources to conduct the grant. Grant round to be announced around Feb 1 2009
  • Additional grant funds go into Open Gaming Night at Annual; the first one was a great success! 400 people attended. The next Open Gaming Night will be Friday July 10; volunteers are needed. Email Scott if you’d like to assist.
  • The Gaming Pavilion in the exhibit hall during Annual 08 featured about 20 exhibitors; in 2009 expecting 60-75 gaming vendors.
  • The Gaming, Learning & Libraries Symposium, also sponsored by Verizon, had 200+ attendees and got very positive feedback. Video didn’t come out well, and some podcasts didn’t come out well, but a lot of content is hosted on the ALA TechSource wiki. The next GLLS will most likely be Spring 2010, and new sponsors are needed as the event moves away from TechSource’s sponsorship.

Jenny Levine, ALA, reported on National Gaming at your Library Day, which took place Saturday Nov. 15, 2008:

  • 16,000 public libraries got copies of Pictureka donated from Hasbro! We set our own record for the most number of people playing a board game—1,500 people played; 14,000 people participated in total. The event was an opportunity for a lot of education about gaming to the public, and to library administrators .
  • For next year, NGD will be held on Saturday Nov 14, with  activities leading up to event for academic and school libraries. To get updates, join the mailing list: and watch for details on the ALA Gaming Blog

Beth Gallaway, IFC,  reported on the YALSA Mixer & Tech Playground Friday night January 23, which featured Nintendo DS gaming, Lose the Game, A Booktalking Competition, and People Bingo. Over 75 people attended this event. A synopsis is on the YALSA Blog.

Events at Annual
Scott is compiling for a one-page  so keep Scott informed as you hear about gaming things at Annual.

  • Preconference on Board Games & the AASL Standards (Chris Harris)
  • Friday July 10 Open Gaming Night – Including board games, tabletop games, videogames, the big game, and … freeze tag???
  • Saturday July 11, 10:30am: GGMIG meeting
  • Saturday July 11, 3:30-5:30pm: “Public Library Winners of the National Medal for Library and Museum Service from the IMLS – Small to Medium Sized Institutions in Rural to Urban Areas.”
  • Sunday July 12 1:30-3:00pm Panel: What Does Gaming Have to do With Books Anyway? Connecting Games & Libraries

The remainder of the meeting was a round robin exchange of ideas. People and projects follow:

Jennifer Nelson, Hennepin County Library

  • Gaming programs for teens
  • Programs for seniors
  • Game Design program featured in the Librarian’s Guide to Gaming Toolkit – IMLS funded, teen mentors
  • Beginning to circulate games & consoles, with Minneapolis PL merger

Beth Gallaway, Information Goddess Consulting, NH

  • VOYA Article in April 2009 on games featuring content creation
  • Librarian’s Guide to Gaming: an ALA Toolkit is ready for soft launch
  • Ben 10 program in March for Las Vegas Clark County Library System
  • Teaching an Online class, Get Your Game On, Online!  for Infopeople in Feb 2009

Wanda Nesbit, Dover Public Library, DE

  • There is gaming at the library currently, with–adults, kids playing games on the computer
  • Wants to know, what do you do first? How to merge the gap: “it’s not foreign to me, it’s foreign to the people I work with.”
  • Wants to integrate gaming with a literacy focus

Erin Meyer, University of Denver, CO

  • Renovation pending, plans include buying a Wii & board games to use for library hosted game nights and to circulate to student groups to use in the library
  • Wants more info to support WHY we should be doing gaming at the library on campus
  • Would like games for staff development
  • Gaming in the library is going to tie in with writing center – multimodal literacy
  • Digital media studies will be targeted for gaming initiatives

Brooke Bahnsen,

  • Participated in Gaming Club at the library school at UIUC
  • Recent graduate in first professional job; part of new job is buying games for kids, including card games and puzzles
  • Library currently offers teen game night with Rock Band & DDR every other week and hosts a chess club that meets weekly
  • Would like to implement a Mahjong club

Allan Kleiman, Library Consultant

  • Focus is older adults & intergenerational gaming
  • Has received good feedback on gaming article in American Libraries
  • Children & teen librarians seem to be more receptive to gaming concept, followed by academic librarians. How to bring the reference staff along?
  • Exploring how gaming fits into service for adults or adult adults
  • SLJ article on intergenerational gaming coming soon
  • Book for Libraries Unlimited on Older Adults & Technology coming soon
  • NJ Regional Library Coop has 13 themed traveling console gaming packages (Wii, PS2, XBox).  These kits are for all types of libraries in the system. Training for librarians is planned for March 2009. The ultimate  goal: Interlibrary competition, training by Eli Neiburger, AADL on GT System, in April, to take gaming to the next level
  • At one training session, a drawing for the Wii was held, and a medical library won!

Keiran Hixon, John C. Fremont Library, Florence CO

  • Winner, EBSCO’s small & rural libraries award
  • Doing gaming for 2 years at the library, with a $500 budget to start
  • Currently they circulate 160 videogames – no video game or DVD rental store in local vicinity
  • The library hosts tournaments for video/board games every other month, puffball is popular
  • Patrons donate broken Xboxes, which are repaired for about $25
  • “They ILL me” : Keiran has provided training on site at 25 libraries
  • Seniors have a Wii at the senior center, and play the teens
  • Modern board games draw the 20-40 year olds
  • “I can start someone on a gaming program for a $100; if you have $500 you can have a Wii”

Jack Martin, NYPL

  • Gaming to 35-40 branches, across all age groups
  • Circulating gaming collections: XBox, Wii, PS2 for children, adults, and teens
  • Books for the Teen Age renamed to Stuff for the Teen Age – March 20 – including GAMES!
  • Global Kids partnership to design serious games for kids is the current project;  library staff will be trained and produce 20 programs over 10 weeks
  • Games like:
  • Jack is an adjunct professor at Pratt & Columbia, teaching YA literature. He incorporates gaming as literacy into his courses and will be playing games every week in class

Dwight McInvaill, Georgetown County Library

  • Spoke about the challenge of rural areas. A few years ago a funder asked for an innovative program to get teens reading at the new branch; Dwight’s program involving books was turned down. He’d recently seen a presentation on gaming at the library and “was so irritated by the idea I continued to think about it.”
  • The initial grant paid for a gaming club to entice teens to come in and use the library to earn more gaming time. The club added a videogame design component and a digital arts component apple computers, handheld cameras, etc to create music, film and art.
  • In the future: working on getting people in the gaming industry to come to speak; and inform youth about gaming careers and programs
  • GCL has an ICMA (Gates Foundation grant) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hugo and library to teaching the public about the dangers of hurricanes and how to prepare through using serious game simulations like the Stop Disaster game developed by the U (Dwight says he is pretty good at earthquakes)

Paul Waelchli, St. Norbert College, WI

  • Incorporates gaming strategies into information literacy instruction
  • Working on Using off the shelf games to teach information literacy

Jenny Levine, ALA

  • Working on next issue of Library Technology Report on gaming
  • First issue was Introduction, next was Broadening the scope; looking for feedback for theme of next issue.

Pending Publications coming out:
Game On! by Beth Gallaway, Neal Schuman
Everyone Plays at the Library by Scott Nicholson, Information Today
Older Adults & Technology by Allan M. Kleiman, Libraries Unlimited

Gaming Census for 2008 is forthcoming! Watch for details on the GGMIG and LibGaming lists.

Board Game with Scott contains tutorials on how to play board games
On Board Games: Podcast on Board Games
Upcoming Classes

  • NYLA workshops
  • WYSE plus class on gaming (eligible for students at 15 library schools, online classes for all the other schools in the consortium with 10 slots in the class open to ALA members who are willing to pay the auditing fee for this 1 credit class. The course will be delivered via YouTube, 10-minute video on YouTube every day for the month of June, with weekly video responses required from students.  Anyone can play along, because the videos will be public and live on, in posterity! Guest lectures are welcome.
  • A small games & gaming conference at the Strong National Museum of Play (Rochester, NY) is in planning process, thanks to the connections made at GLLS. Scott reported there is a branch of the Rochester Library in the museum and exhibits include books and artifacts.

Gaming Stuff at Midwinter!

January 23rd, 2009
  • Friday January 23 8-10 PM YALSA Social Mixer and Tech Playground, Hyatt Regency Denver (650 15th Street) and the room is Centennial A/B. Play The Game (you just lost the game!), try a people scavenger hunt, and play with Nintendo DS Lites.
  • Saturday, January 24, 10:00 – 12:00:  Games and Gaming MIG, Grand Hyatt, Mt. Columbia. Share what you are doing with tabletop and videogames @ your library!
  • Sunday, January 25, 4:00 – 5:30:  YALSA Teen Gaming Interest Group (part of the YALSA Discussion & Interest Group Open House) Colorado Convention Center Room 203

Got another meetup? post in the comments & let us know!