This post is about video games. I feel the need to say that up at the top because the Venn Diagram of people who think libraries are a place for books, and those who think libraries are a a place for gaming is almost two circles. If you’ve paid attention to our youth programming, you’ll notice that video games in libraries is not a tremendously new concept. Libraries were eager to add gaming programs in the form of board games, card games, or tabletop gaming. When video games came onto the scene, many libraries were eager to see how they could fit them into their spaces and program schedules. The Medford and Ashland branches have regularly scheduled video game afternoons. During the April Ashland closure, you’ll see some happening in Phoenix and Talent.
But one branch has embraced video games and gaming so much that they created a permanent space for it. That branch is Eagle Point.
Eagle Point has been going through some light remodeling to make its youth spaces feel more youthful. It started with new furniture in the teen area and eventually into their children’s space with playful furniture and tables. This remodel also includes the patio area.
And then there is the video game cave. A once unused study-room-turned-storage space is now a bright, active space in the library.
The video game cave has an Xbox 360 and several games for kids to play alone or with friends.
All games are suitable for kids 13 and younger and do not feature online play. Kids can come anytime during open hours and sign up to use the space.
Now, I can hear what (some of) you are thinking:
Shouldn’t we be encouraging reading at the library?
Yes — we should, and we do, but our mission is to connect people with ideas, information, and each other — all of which can and has been done with the addition of the video game cave.
In fact, I recently had a conversation with a mom who experienced this first-hand. She told me:
“My son is non-verbal and sometimes has trouble socializing. However, because of the video game cave, we visit the library every week, and my son has regular play dates with new friends. He has even started to browse for books while we wait for his turn. It has been great to see a sort of transformation in my son.”
This is the JCLS mission in action.
But it’s not just us — many libraries have embraced video gaming as part of their programming or collection. In addition, video game programs and collections are valuable for helping kids (or anyone) socialize and gain collaboration experience.
Some other benefits of video games include but are not limited to the following:
- Encouraging literacy activities like reading and writing
- Having a cathartic effect in releasing emotions
- Encouraging physical movement
- Improving hand-eye coordination and rhythm
I’ll be talking about these topics in some upcoming posts — and if you don’t think of yourself as a “gamer,” or even someone who knows anything about or likes video games — that’s okay! I hope you read my posts, if for nothing more than to learn more about what your libraries are doing.
In the meantime, I encourage you to go to the Eagle Point branch and check out the video game cave — and watch for the cool video game-related stuff we have on the horizon.