Get your game on!

If you've read any articles about gaming, or you've sponsored tournaments at your library, or you've attended a library conference lately, you've likely heard the buzz around gaming in libraries. I LOVE watching librarians giggling and having fun playing Rock Band during conference down-times. At the recent ARSL conference, a certain someone was heard belting out classics while her colleagues accompanied her on drums and guitar (who knew that Margaret Miles--also a member of our steering committee--was such a rocker?).

At a North East Florida Library Network (NEFLIN) convening recently, contributors to the Cookbooks from the Suwannee River Regional Library were seen rockin' out--wonder what song Danny Hales and Sherry Millington were singing?

Here's a fun event:

If you live in Michigan, you may be lucky enough to attend an in-person Cookbook Book Club on Oct. 22 on gaming at your library. The Book Club will be held at the Kalamazoo Public Library, hosted by Jean Montgomery of the Superiorland Library Cooperative. Meet to discuss how libraries are using games, and get a sneak peek at a chapter on gaming in our next Cookbook! If you're interested in attending, please email me: sarah [at] techsoup [dot] org

Don't live in Michigan, and want to learn more about gaming in libraries?

Oct 16th 30-minute webinar


TOPIC: Get Your Game On: quick tips to start a gaming program in your library
WHEN: Oct. 16, 11:00 am (PST)
: WebJunction's webinar space (register here)

Join Lori Reed, Employee Learning Coordinator at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, as she interviews Beth Gallaway for "Get Your Game On: Quick Tips to Start a Gaming Program in Your Library." This will be a fast-paced and interactive session introducing the idea of gaming programs in libraries. Hear what others have done, share your experiences, and think about what you might want to do in the future.

Beth Gallaway was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2006 for her work in advocating for videogames in libraries. She is an independent library trainer/consultant specializing in gaming, technology, and youth services, and is a YALSA certified Serving the Underserved (SUS) trainer. Visit her website at

Take 30 minutes out of your day to learn from the experiences of others and get something started. This is a part of the MaintainIT Cookbook webinar series where contributors to the Cookbooks share their insights, their secrets, and what you can do to get started with projects like theirs. Please come!

Still not convinced gaming is for your library? Read on:

Bringing kids, teenagers and adults into the library is what it is all about. This summer, for the teens I decided to have a gaming night. We are a very small rural library in the U.P. of Michigan; our patron count is about 500. I like getting the input from our children/young adult patrons on things we can do in the library. I suggested a Game Night and the kids loved the idea. I brought my daughter's PS2 Rockband game and instruments and my son's Wii from home.  I set them up in the library, each on a different television along with some card games, chess/checkers and other board games. The young adults loved it. To make sure that everyone got to play the different games each teen would pick a colored poker chip (Red, Blue, White, Black) and for twenty minutes they got to play on ONE game and then they rotated every 20 minutes (that is approximately the time it takes for two people to complete a game of bowling on the Wii). There was no arguing and I threw in pizza, pop, prizes and everyone had a great time. The younger kids found out about our game night so we set aside another day and time for the younger kids to enjoy. We had so much fun that our Township Board heard about our night and decided to buy a Wii with Rockband and the Sports package. Good luck to everyone who tries this. It is a blast!"  Jan St.Germain, Richmond Township Library, Palmer MI

Hope to see you at one of the events, and keep your eyes out for the next Cookbook, to be released soon!


I am a librarian at Rochester College in Rochester Hills, Michigan. For the last two years, my co-workers and I have hosted video game tournaments at our library once each semester. We have dubbed our events with the moniker: GAME ON!

From 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM on a Friday night in September or January, we turn the library into a full scale arcade with various consoles and games, food, beverages, and a tournament complete with prizes. The students love the events, and several have become regular attendees.

Some things that we have discovered over the years have helped us to make the events even better.

  1. Choose one game for the main tournament game, and alternate your tournament game titles for each event. We like to have a racing or a fighting game (such as Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. Brawl) for our fall tournaments, and a rhythm/music game (such as DDR or Guitar Hero) for our winter tournaments. Alternating between genres gives different participants a chance to shine.
  2. If you are going to seed your tournaments, plan carefully. For a large tournament, it's best to seed the bracket using multiple consoles instead of a single one. Have a worker tabulate the results of each individual seeding match and give them to another worker who can enter the stats into a database for final seeding.
  3. Use your resources, and by this I mean people. If you need additional consoles, you can easily borrow some from a relative, friend, or coworker. Several students at RC loan their games and consoles to the library for the night of GAME ON. Also, be sure to have everything unlocked in your tournament game. You can easily borrow a memory card (and copy it) from your cousin who has mastered DDR or from your coworker's child who is an expert at Guitar Hero.
  4. Get to know your audience. Be sure to listen to their feedback and suggestions. They may have great ideas that you've never even considered. A blog is a good way to do this.
  5. Have alternate activities to the tournament. We have a variety of consoles throughout the library for DDR, Guitar Hero, Smash Bros., Mario Kart, and even retro games. This not only gives those who are not competing something to do, but it also beats boredom in between rounds.
  6. Finally, have fun doing these events. Remember that you are cementing lasting relationships of learning and entertainment with your library's users. Have some fun, and join in some of the games yourself!

If you would like to see how some of our events have gone, please visit my webpage:

I also recommend Eli Neiburger's book "Gamers... in the Library?!?" This book provides a wealth of knowledge about hosting tournaments for just about any audience.

Have a great time, and GAME ON!

- Brian