Library Corner: Gaming center
December 9, 2018
When I first heard that Grand County Library District had received a grant for a Nintendo Switch Gaming System, my excitement didn't initially match that of my executive director's. As a Grand County resident and a former Outdoor Education Director, I am more interested in my kid being outside and playing in the fresh air than sitting in a room playing video games… but, then I did my research.
While Harvard Library is consistently noted as the first academic library in what would become the United States, libraries open to the public (or at least members of various churches) appeared throughout the colonies in the early 1700s to encourage learning and piety. A more common form was the private library, such as the one Benjamin Franklin created.
Privates libraries were companies in which members paid a fee to keep new books coming in and where well-informed arguments were settled.
In the 1830s, and then throughout the Industrial Revolution, public libraries were generally initiated through a grand philanthropic donation (think Andrew Carnegie or Juniper Library) with continued operation, upkeep, and staffing funded through local taxes. These facilities had the intention of providing people with the opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and help individuals become advocates for self-betterment. This idea continues today with classes on securing careers (GCLD) or training courses, or even the ability to check out appropriate clothing for interviews and briefcases or handbags (NY Public Libraries).
How do Gaming Centers tie in? They are an example of the modern libraries of the old Wild West.
Libraries in the West were centers of learning to bring in the rough miner, loggers, and cattlemen – a place to provide a healthy distraction from drinking, gambling, or illicit activities.
Today, libraries throughout the States are installing Gaming Centers to provide a similar distraction for tweens and teens. Providing high interest activities engages this age bracket to come and have fun in the library and adhere to the Library Code of Conduct (there's a reason why the former WP brewery's t-shirts said, "Tell Your Mom You're at the Library).
The research doesn't stop there. Gaming systems, such as the Nintendo Switch, are set up not for individual play but for groups of 2-8 people to consider system, spatial, and lateral solutions. Players aren't sitting alone in a corner but communicating and organizing socially in order to achieve a common goal. Peer mentoring and coaching, as well as a willingness to take risks and engineer a solution, are all part of gaming. Need more convincing? Check out "Gaming in the Libraries" online from the Colorado Department of Education.
On December 14th, the Grand County Library District kicks off its first Gaming Center event for 10-15-year-olds from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Granby Library. Thank you, Grand Foundation, for the generous grant that helps GCLD support Grand County tweens and teens develop a mindset of cooperation, innovation, and solution.
For more information regarding what games will be played go to http://gcldco.evanced.info/Signup and look on Dec 14.
Polly Gallagher is director of public services for the Grand County Library District.