Discussion topic: Games and libraries


Gamers by Arne Halvorsen. CC BY-NC 2.0

This week’s discussion topic will look at the connection between libraries and games – this seems to be as varied as the types of libraries themselves. From a traditional focus on board games to the rise of Minecraft in libraries, there is something in this topic for most of us.

I remember as an 8 year old playing games in my school library at lunch time on rainy days and with rising pressure on funding of libraries in many schools, there is plenty of people arguing that games and libraries can help with teaching core literacy and numeracy.

At the community level, many public libraries include video games in their spaces, to help bring in teenagers and young adults, either on a continuous basis or as a one off event to promote the library.  Providing a safe, non commercial space for children and teens to socialise and play video games is just one reason public libraries in particular have jumped onto this.

Academic libraries are also getting in on the games and gaming act. Many universities teach game design, either as a full degree or as a subject specialisation within another course.  However, games aren’t always related to study. One University Library here in Sydney hosts an annual Play Day at the beginning of the academic year and of course Zombies continue to be a recurring theme in academic library games and activities around the world.

Over the next two weeks we will showcase some different libraries and the strategies and programs they are offering around games.

Do you have games in your library? If so, what sort? Board games are ‘traditional’ library games, do you still have them or has your library moved on entirely to video games? Are they for the purposes of teaching about games or are they a tool for marketing your library to children or teenagers? If your library doesn’t have games, perhaps your local public library or the library at your children’s school does so you can still join in the discussion. Or tell us what sort of games are played in schools, libraries and parks in your country?

Tell us about your library and games, in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter (@InterLibNet) using #interlibnet. We have a twitter chat coming up on this topic on Thursday 2 April (check the link to help work out your local time) and would love you to join in and share your stories and experiences.

Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2015A and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Here in Uganda its rare to find games on libraries apart from school libraries like kindergarten and primary, i once worked in a primary school and we had games for the pupils we had games like scrabble, monopoly and this made reading enjoyable and the pupils would always long for when to go back to the library. this increased the reading culture among the pupils.

  2. We don’t have games in our library as it is a special library in a broadcasting industry. but games can be awesome to be in our libraries as some games can help in personality traits and in certain aspects of the mind. Games can increase patrons availability in our libraries as people enjoy learning or reading mixed with fun.

  3. Kathryn Hopson, Librarian

    Playification: Games in Libraries and the importance of play.

    While working in libraries I have the wonderful opportunity everyday to see how students, parents and teachers connect on a daily basis. Libraries were often considered to be quiet places where noise is often restricted and this is often the case the majority of times. However in breaks in schools there is a time for the playing of games.

    During lunch times the library places easy play board games such as drafts (checkers) snakes and ladders and dominoes onto tables in order for students- especially young students to learn strong socialisation skills, the library is a great area for students learn these skills in a safe and welcoming space.

    One of the most interesting opportunities I had this term was to assist a parent who supervises her ADD son who is in Year 1. I noticed her son wanted to play drafts and I taught him how to play. His mother who supervises her son was surprised her son had learnt to play drafts with his difficulties in socialisation and communication with others. I asked her would she like to play a game with her son? The mother had never played a board game with her son before and did not know how to play drafts herself. So I had the unique opportunity to teach the mother to play as well.

    Then I was privileged to watch a mum play a game with her son for the first time.

    Why was this insignificant moment so important? – For a young mother struggling with her son who has ADD and has many behavioural and communication problems. For this mother to be able to sit quietly for 10 minutes and play a simple game of drafts was a breakthrough in communicating effectively for both of them. It gave her the knowledge that yes her son will learn and be able to communicate and socialise effectively with friends in the future.

    For her son it gave him the opportunity to simply ‘play ‘ with his mother. While he is always being ‘watched’ by his mum –supervised and instructed every day, the chance for a little boy to simply play with his mother and laugh at her mistakes and his, cannot be underestimated in forming a another level of communication between them.

    We underestimate the power of “play’ in our lives.

      • Thank you Karen, at the moment I am completing my Masters of Information Technology – Library Major through The Queensland University of Technology.I am a Library Technician and once my course is finished this year I will be a Librarian. I have worked in libraries for over 25 years and firmly believe we are life long learners. Some of the libraries I have worked in are The University of Western Sydney, The Royal Blind Society, Westmead Hospital, Councils and Schools both State and Private. The school I am in at the moment is not automated – so I have stepped back 25 years in my career to set up systems for them and design library programs. I firmly believe that libraries supply the connected learning space most needed in todays world. Cheers Kathryn

  4. Reblogged this on Karen's 23 Mobile Things and commented:
    The upcoming Twitter chat on Thursday at 11 am South African Standard Time (UTC + 2:00) will be about gaming and libraries. I will be running it from the ILN Twitter handle.

    Check out a Time zone converter here and please take part.
    Please give us a shout-out from your part of the world and tell us what you do with gaming in your library?

    Maybe it is still something you should try in your library?

  5. In the Philippines, some academic libraries have an area for playing board games, in fact, just recently, I had attended two forums here discussing gamifying library instruction/gamification in the libraries. At least we were able to be familiar with the theory and principles behind this library trend. I’m also excited to include games in our library orientation this coming school year…. conceptualization is on going.

  6. Pingback: Feedback about hosting a Twitter chat – ILN discussion about games and libraries | Karen's 23 Mobile Things

  7. Pingback: Diverse communities: the ILN experience | International Librarians Network

  8. Pingback: Disruptive technology: Gamification | International Librarians Network

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