in Gaming, General, Libraries/Info Sci

Gaming in Libraries 2005 – Kelly Czarnecki, Matt Gullett – Supporting a Culture

When: Tuesday, December 06 2005 01:00 PM
Where: American Dental Association, Chicago
More Information:
My Role: Attendee
Supporting a Culture: Gaming at the Library

Matt and Kelly work for the Bloomington Public Library. Matt is the IT Services Manager, and Kelly is the Teen Services Librarian.

This presentation will be practically oriented.

What do teens represent in the life-cycle of a library patron?
-Catch them now, and Be Relevant. They’ll be hooked into other services for life, not just storytime for their kids.

Goal: Use tech to serve the patrons.

Game Fests
-Why would they decide to do this? Gamers were on staff and got the ball rolling.

Now we’re watching a mini-documentary Bloomington put together to promote their Game Fests. They have a bunch of board games out to play too, which isn’t something I’ve seen very much in other presentations so far. Dance Dance Revolution is of course a major focus, with large groups of kids gathered around.

Game Fests are run quarterly in a room of 16 powerful networked computers. This is also unusual among other presentations here! Even more, Battlefield 2 (A war-themed first person shooter) is their main event.

Later, a program involving Gamecubes and Mario Kart, a la Eli’s earlier program, was added to the mix. It has been perhaps more popular than the shooter.

Food is another incentive for attendance – pizza and water. “We used soda once, they geet all hopped up on it. We learned our lesson.”

-Board games are very affordable
-Supported by administration – labor and food were covered in grant activities

There have been no problems with support from administration or parents! In fact parents have been praising it, and admin has been cheering them on.

Lessons Learned
-Branding – Posters and art are themed to look like comic book covers. When high schoolers started laughing at the original ‘trendier’ name, it was changed to the more straightforward Game Fest.
-Experience – Much of their work has been drawn from existing programs like Eli’s.
-Competition – Just an open gaming session is perhaps too unstructured, and doesn’t run as smoothly without organization.
-Learned from youth – Talked to the teens, upgraded equipment along with what they wanted, etc.

Community Support & Promotion
-Game stores (EB Games, Best Buy)
-Acme Comics
-Marketing at high schools by running game sessions at lunch time
DDRfreak (a major DDR fan web site)
-Grants and alternative support/funding

Neither Kelly or Matt are big gamers, but appreciate the culture and get involved.

Any networking in community groups help – prizes, promotion, etc. Plus others who see the events, even if not participating, get interested in the library.

They’ve also built a collection of gaming-related books. Lots of kids come in looking for information on careers in gaming, for example.

Related: Next Generation Computer Club –
-Not just games. Multimedia, creating web sites, digital music, etc.

I had to step out for a few minutes, but it looks like there’s a library-sponsored guild in World of Warcraft! Lots of other teen-focused programs being mentioned – Podcasts and film festivals for example.

In the end, this is all just new methods of community outreach.

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