Monday, May 31, 2010

Libraries go "Wii"

Happy memorial day, few but loyal readers!! Here's a quick, fun post for your reading pleasure:

I've found a new favorite blog: Will Unwound. It consists of the musings of long time writer and retired library director, Will Manly. I really like that by reading his posts, you can tell that he is having a lot of fun with his blog. What I like even more is that he is not afraid to confront controversial issues that libraries are dealing with. He creates a lot of internet chatter, and it's fascinating to see what side various people fall on.

One recent posting that I took issue with was Martinis at an A.A. Meeting. In the post, he asserts the idea that having video games in a library is like serving martinis at a A.A. meeting.

I couldn't disagree more.

If you are patient, and scroll through the comments, not only would you be amazed at the number of librarians who agree with Will, you would come across my (not so eloquent) rant. I'm guessing, cause you're reading a blog, you're not patient, so I re-posted my comment here:

I think that stick-in the mud librarians who refuse change are the most dangerous things that libraries face today.

As a library student, I love Ranganathan’s five laws of librarianship, especially the fifth: “The library is a growing organism.” For the librarians who don’t embrace that: shame on you.

I don’t want to be a children’s librarian, but if I was I would embrace video games...we need to meet children where they are. If I were to become a children’s librarian, I would try and create programs that combined video games and graphic novels. If that were to be successful (getting non-readers to start with graphic novels), I would try and continue the trend, combining graphic novels with compatible chapter books. From video games, to graphic novels, to chapter books: It might not work, but who knows, it just might.

One thing that we have to realize is that libraries are going to be constantly changing, and I feel that libraries are going to be more about promoting the exchange of information rather than a store house of knowledge. In short, libraries are going to be more about providing community space and connections rather than simply loaning books. In one article I just read about the organization of information in the 21st century, the author used a beautiful metaphor: “The successful library in this world is less a lake (self-contained) and more of a harbor (sheltering , but still wide-open to the fluid changes of the sea).” That was written by J. Shuler in the Journal of Academic Librarianship (Vol. 32, No. 5, pp 540-542).

I might have gone off in a bit of a tangent, but we need to realize that the libraries we knew as a kid are going to be different than the libraries we work in today, even if that means providing video games.

Libraries provide computer access, right? What is going to stop kids from hoping on a computer and playing online games for an hour. If kids are going to do it anyway, you might as well have a librarian around to try, in some way, to connect them to some form of reading.

Today, sipping coffee at my neighborhood cafe, I came across a great article: Rowdy seniors enjoy video games at Clymer Library. Take the time to read the article, don't worry, I'll still be here when you finished.

Clymer Library is a perfect example of a library that is willing to change to not only stay relevant in the 21st century, but to meet a community need. A library board member saw that there was need for space for his community's growing elderly community and a need to help keep seniors active. By applying for a grant and buying a Nintendo Wii, he was able to hit two birds with one stone. Genius. And I'm sure the Seniors who take advantage of this opportunity would be thankful for an opportunity to relate to some of the things there grandkids are interested in.

Excuse me a second, there is a solitary tear running down my cheek that I need to wipe away....

If you think about the current Baby Boomer generation, and the generations to follow, video games are a major element of the culture that they are part of. The current generation of retirees may not have grown up with Super Mario Brothers of Sonic the Hedge Hog, but they certainly bought the gaming systems for the generations who did.

So what's the moral of the story? Libraries need to embrace change. Not willy-nilly, but to fit the needs of their communities. And if that means video-games, so be it. Anybody up for a game of Wii Bowling???

1 comment:

  1. I'm just now learning that it is worth following the links, though many times I get linked so far away, I can't remember where I started. I don't know if you know this, but there is a LOT of information out there on the internet.