Introducing Video Games in Libraries

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.

I.Ramjaun

References

  1. Bell, S J (2009). From Gatekeepers to Gate-Openers. In  American Libraries. August-September, pp. 50-53.
  2. Levine, J (2009). Gaming, All Grown up. In American Libraries. August-September, pp. 34-35.
  3. 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.
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Report on Public Libraries in Africa (1962)

This old report on the Regional Seminar on The Development of Public Libraries in Africa held in Nigeria from 10-12 September 1962, may be of interest to those who would like to have a global view of the development of  librarianship in Africa. The report focuses particularly on the training of library staff. Mention is made of Mauritius also. A comment made on courses offered is worth our reflection and it reads as follows  “…From all this, it will be seen that the general pattern of training is uneven, and the most successful ventures have been in those countries where library schools have been established. The attachment of such schools to universities, as in South Africa, has given the profession a standing commensurate with other professions and with appropriate salaries. As library services expand in emergent countries, training policies will follow local needs rather than being dependent on outside sources…” This comment invites our critical analysis in the light of new developments taking place in libraries, specially in the digital era. To read the full report, click here …Public Libs in Africa.

P.Hauroo