Pursuing our reflections on the need to constantly re-invent libraries, provide innovative product offerings and incorporate lifestyle habits into libraries as it is the case in the United States, Europe and emerging South-East Asian countries like Singapore, South Korea and China, one wishes to share another novel idea which is being embraced by U.S public libraries.
Video games, once considered as being largely responsible for having a negative impact on children’s violent behaviour are being gradually introduced among the mainstream services just like popular music, movies, television and books. According to C.K. Olson and L. Kutner, Directors of the Centre for Mental Health and Media (Harvard Medical School), gaming may also “help children develop valuable skills like collaboration, problem-solving, teamwork and coping with negative emotions”. Other benefits of adding video games among public library services are: they provide an added source of entertainment and a mix of recreation in social and communal activities, they foster increased interaction and synergy between the library and the community, they act as an infrastructure providing transformational experiences targeted at non-library users such as children, teenagers and even the 30-35 age clientele who are traditionally an “under-served” group; gaming can also be used as a source of fundraising and may serve to enhance the profile of the library (Levine, 2009).
Successful experiments have been carried out at the Oak Park Public Library (Chicago), the John Fremont Public Library (Colorado) and Downers Grove Public Library (Chicago), amongst others. The Library Technology Reports journal (July 2009) reports interesting case studies which can serve as inspiration for public librarians in Mauritius and Rodrigues. Some of the pre-requisites include careful preparation and a good communication strategy with all stakeholders prior to the implementation of this new service. Gaming is being thus considered as an additional means of “designing a great library user experience”, a concept passionately advocated by Steven Bell (2009), an associate librarian at Temple University, Philadelphia.
- Bell, S J (2009). From Gatekeepers to Gate-Openers. In American Libraries. August-September, pp. 50-53.
- Levine, J (2009). Gaming, All Grown up. In American Libraries. August-September, pp. 34-35.
- Olson, C.K and Kutner, L (2008). Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Video Games and what Parents can do. New York: Simon & Schuster.