Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Jason Reynolds is a compelling speaker. He got into writing through hip-hop rather than books because it spoke to issues that affected his neighborhood in Brooklyn. The crack epidemic of the time was not being discussed in YA literature. His goal is to write books that deal with issues teens can relate to and that take their feelings seriously. Reynolds is available for library visits.

Gaming in the library:

Games are still stereotyped as being just for kids, especially boys. In reality, the average age of a gamer is 31 and women play just as much as men. Gaming is also increasing among people over 50.

Positive results of gaming:

  • Stress reduction.
  • Maintaining mental sharpness in seniors.
  • Socialization.
  • Planning skills in teens.
  • Encouraging early literacy in children - gives them an incentive to read.
  • Connecting parents and children.

Finger Lakes Library circulates 589 games. They are more popular than their DVD collection.

Things to think about when circulating games:

  • People will steal them. Use Kwik cases, vending machines, or keep behind the desk.
  • Some patrons may complain that they are inappropriate or too expensive (you can buy pre-owned games at Amazon).
  • Have a reasonable loan period - you can’t play a game in 2 days.
  • Have clear policies - Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, reconsideration of materials form.
  • Think about your target audience - ESRB ratings don’t have legal force, but can be used as guidelines. Are your gamers kids or adults? casual or hardcore? What device do they use? What genres do they like?

When adding games to the collection, give them what they want and don't play it safe.

La Vista Public Library  started a gaming club for the board game Arkham Horror (produced by Twin Cities company Fantasy Flight Games).  After they had been playing for a while, the teens had the idea to create a life-sized version where they dressed up as their characters, made sets, and created monsters out of Halloween supplies and Dollar Tree stuffed animals. They partnered with a local game store and received $300 worth of materials from Fantasy Flight, in addition to a grant from YALSA. They had a great response and were able to save most of the supplies to use again.

Ann Arbor District Library has been putting on gaming tournaments since 2004. They feel that their money goes further with events than circulation - tournaments encourage new patrons, teens are engaged by the competition aspect, teens make new friends, and teens with too many fines to check out materials can still attend. AADL avoids games that favor richer players - some games allow players to buy items that give them an advantage, or else players get rewards for hours put in rather than skills (players without fast Internet at home are penalized). AADL’s preferred console is the Wii-U, as it has the broadest audience.

Some tournaments:

League of Legends- world’s largest gaming community, could be the next Minecraft.
Pokemon Showdown - free online.
Minecraft - build your fantasy library, library Hunger Games.
ALA International Games Day- teens were excited to play online with people all over the world.

Other gaming-related programming ideas:

  • Mini-game development jam with free Scratch software
  • Summer reading program with badges for achievements.
  • Giving patrons points for book reviews, identifying photos, checking digitized materials for errors- make everything a game and get patrons to work for you for free!

Recommended games:

Web sites:

Tabletop: learn about a game by watching celebrities play.

How to organize a “Con” at the library:

East Orange Public Library’s Children’s Librarian and teen Anime Club members put on their first library convention in 2015. The teens had a competition to design the convention mascot. Tosho-Con  had an attendance of 400, over half of which were adults. It was one day and included 15 programs.

Why a convention?

  • Conventions are a central part of “Geek” culture -fans of science fiction, fantasy, anime, horror.
  • A chance to meet fans with the same interests.
  • A chance to meet creators and learn about new and upcoming titles.
  • A chance to create and share creations - fanart, fanfiction, cosplay, etc.
  • Large conventions can be expensive and crowded, they can even sell out. Teens may not be able to attend due to transportation issues or lack of parental permission.

Programs included fashion shows (kid, teen, adult) with prizes, a raffle of donated items, and Iron Cosplay (making costumes on a deadline with paper). Teen co-chairs picked other teens to staff craft tables. The teens loved having job titles and responsibility.

Tips for library conventions:

  • Find partners- the local comic shop donated bags with comic books and the parking authority offered free parking. EOPL also invited the local arts council.
  • Create a program with library rules and a layout schedule.
  • Plan programs so simultaneous events attract different demographics.
  • Teach staff about conventions and offer training.
  • Tie convention to the collection for a great PR opportunity.
  • Check the date to make sure your event doesn’t conflict with any major conventions.
  • Carefully plan your budget, location of events, and staff needs. Presenter costs vary widely - the most expensive at EOPL was $600. Using local creators saves travel costs.

How to sustain a teen volunteer group:

Chattanooga Public Library had started a teen volunteer group, but they were having issues. They realized that they were taking the wrong approach - the group wasn’t about library staff and saving them work, it was about the teens and being a teen advocate.

Tips for supervising a teen volunteer group:

  • Get teen input - they will leave if they don't have a voice.
  • Work around their schedules, not yours.
  • Give up control - ask them what they want to do.
  • Have quarterly focus groups - put out a sheet and walk away so they will answer freely.
  • Hang out with them and talk to them - they are teens, so there will be breakups and drama.
  • Have train the trainer sessions for teens so they can host programs.

Handouts for the conference are available here and here.

--Andrea H. @ GLCL

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