Libraries are not made; they grow.
In writing my literature review for my MCS Capstone (examining the future of the academic library) I’ve come across all sorts of awesome material. Sadly I’m quickly developing the realization that not all of it will make the cut for my final project. Regardless, I’m finding all sorts of fascinating trends that you might not expect in the world of bookshelves. One such example: gaming in academic libraries.
Gaming in libraries is nothing new; however, trends suggest that the practice is mostly limited to public libraries. Public libraries are always making a splash about the next new innovative gaming club, and research supports the examination of effects of video games on the public library. Believe it or not, gaming in academic libraries is more popular than you might think. University libraries across the country are incorporating video games into their own world of information academia.
An obvious question emerges at the forefront of this discussion. Why should academic libraries bother with video games? You go to an academic library to do serious research, not perfect your latest Toon Link strategies or pwn noobs with grenades…right?
Part of the answer lies in marketing the library services. College students, especially freshmen, aren’t completely aware of the many services an academic library can provide outside. Often no real effort is given outside of a short demonstration given in English 101 that most students probably sleep through or spend cruising Facebook. Given that many college students play video games, it only seems natural that offering video games will entice these reluctant users to come. Draw them in with video games, and perhaps they will stick around. Students then discover that they can actually get some help on that paper that they’ve been procrastinating on because they were too busy playing video games at the library.
Okay, so video games will get people to come to the library and check out a book. What about the cost behind getting all of this equipment? As case studies have shown, obtaining the necessary equipment will not destroy the library budget. Compared to the amount of money spent on books and other media such as movies and music CD’s that you’ll often find at an academic library, video game equipment can actually prove to be a worthwhile investment. How much money is spent on books/media which end up sitting on a shelf forgotten for months, if not years at a time? By investing in a small stock of popular video games, an academic library will make a worthwhile investment that patrons will obviously use.
The process of integrating video games into an academic library is not an easy one. Indeed, the video game medium introduces a very different set of challenges that you won’t encounter with other forms of media. Cataloging can be an issue in addition to the logistics of creating and maintaining a dedicated gaming area in the library that won’t disrupt other patrons. Yet video games might prove to be a valuable tool in the ever-increasing push to market the academic library to millennials making the transition from high school to college.