gaming for everyone

I have really been enjoying Library Journal’s column on games and gaming in their print magazine and should probably be adding Liz Danforth’s blog to my “to read” list. I enjoyed Allen McGinley’s post in 8bit Library talking about gaming for kids with special needs, with computer and non-computer games. Good list for a starting gaming program.

redefining what it means to read – the seven stages of librarianship

Enjoying listening to Jenny Levine talking about gaming in libraries. I’m still not much of a gamer, but I’ve definitely been seeing the value of gaming programs bringing teens into libraries. She pointed me to a document that I hadn’t read and am really enjoying [kill me, I'm multiasking!] called Fiat Lux, Fiat Late­bra: A Cel­e­bra­tion of His­tor­i­cal Library Func­tions [pdf] by D. W. Krum­mel. Not a new article (Jenny posted about it in 2008) but a great read including, especially “The Seven Ages of Librar­i­an­ship” which is a great exposition of how the library has evolved and is evolving.

a little omg and response to some gaming in libraries

Librarians play games “on the clock”. News show flips out. Locals talk to their representatives. Nebraska Library Comission produces 27 page report explaining what went on.

The Library Commission‟s actions in acquiring gaming equipment and a few representative games is proper and in accord with the agency‟s state statutory mission and its purposes in introducing new technologies, techniques and providing information and instruction in the use of these technologies. Innovation requires latitude in researching, examining and use of new and emerging technologies to evaluate their usefulness and benefits. That is the purpose and motivation behind the Commission‟s purchase of gaming equipment.

Read the whole report, it’s really worthwhile. [via]

Winding River Library System – talk and notes

Hi. I’m back from a quick trip to Lacrosse Wisconsin. I got to do a five-hour training for members of the Winding Rivers Library System on digital divide and library 2.0 topics and then got to finish up by showing off a lot of the sweet stuff that Firefox can do. It was a really good day. I’ve never done a training that went that long before and I think I managed to mostly keep the energy level up — though my screenshots didn’t always display well, I may have to redo them with more close-ups — even in a basement room with flourescent lighting. Many thanks to Kristen Anderson for inviting and hosting me and everyone else for being engaged, asking questions and taking the time to learn more.

Here is the jumping off point for all my talks, including the handouts and more links. Like Nicole, I’ve really agonized over how much I want to provide in terms of handouts. Many presentations have an evaluation point about how useful people found the handouts and I’ve frequently gotten negative feedback when I only have my handouts online, even if they’re offered in printable and HTML-ized versions. In a situation where people don’t have laptops — i.e. most of my library presentations — it’s good for people to have something in front of them, and yet I feel ridiculous giving people a piece of paper with mostly URLs on it. So far, I compromise. This talk consisted of

  • an HTML version of the digital divide talk which also has a simple printable version thanks to a neat javascript thingie and a second stylesheet
  • An HTML version of the Firefox talk, same thing
  • My library 2.0 talk in Keynote and PDF versions. PDF version has links in it.
  • A bookmark with the URL to the main page of my talk
  • Printed Firefox handout with links, also online in HTML (and printable HTML just in case)
  • Four additional handouts (get it in one doc here)
    • anatomy of a “social”-ite – where to find me online if you want to explore social software but don’t have a readymade group of friends online already
    • Tools vs. Brands – what is the difference between a wiki, mediawiki and wikipedia
    • Free and Simple – testing the waters – how to get started with 2/0/social software with a few simple projects
    • One Link Per Question – some quickie resources that everyone should know about.

I talk a little bit in the digital divide talk about whether we in smaller libraries need to just be reacting to patron demands and desires or whether we should consider sort of leading the way in, for example, encouraging patrons to get email addresses. I feel sort of the same way about handouts. As much as I think having something to give people at a presentation is a good idea, I feel less good about the idea that I’m making 100 copies of something that could be more easily used and interacted with online and will likely just be tossed out or recycled. I’d like to see a good way to turn this around somehow.

In any case, the talks went well and then I got Tim Keneipp to take me down to the basement where they keep the gamers and I learned to play Guitar Hero! I feel like I must be the last librarian on earth to play this game and I did predictably poorly at first but it was fun to try and sort of nifty to see a whole bunch of teen library activity. Tim also showed me some hot stuff they’re doing with the Lacrosse Public Library intranet that I hope he shows off to a wider audience. I also got to tag in with Rochelle and see how things were going and swap stories about other librarians we knew, standing around outside the library in the sweet-smelling Spring air.

I’m back home now, heading to a MetaFilter meetup this evening and no more outside-New-England travel with the exception of ALA for the forseeable future. See you, perhaps, in Disneyland.

library games

There’s Gaming in Libraries and then there are Games About Libraries. I tried the latter and found them totally inscrutable and mysterious, though interesting from a “hey look there’s my workplace as a video game!” aspect [thanks michael]

the poor and tech training and gaming

The Library Link of the Day today is an article in the Chicago Tribune called Training for the Poor Moves into the Computer Age. It’s an odd combination of two points

1. The digital divide is becoming more and more about technology literacy and not about technology access.
2. Gaming on computers is an important part of attaining that technology literacy.

I don’t know much about point #2. I like games generally but I am not a gamer (save online Scrabble which I suspect may not count). With a few exceptions most of the people I hang out with aren’t gamers so I’ve rarely been in a cultural area that is gaming-immersive. I’m curious, but it’s one of those things that falls outside the “things I have time for” circle. Jenny Levine has some good points in the article and I think the fact that ALA is mentioned in the same article as poor people needing technological literacy for finding better jobs and escaping the cycle of poverty is great PR for libraries.

That said, the article is confusing to me somewhat. It seems to be taking two disparate ideas and mashing them together as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I get the points that gaming and teaching technology through gaming is a great way to help kids with critical thinking skills and problem solving. However I strongly do not think that the best way to help older people — perhaps my age and up — learn technology has anything to do with gaming at all. So, the people who are in dead-end jobs and need to gain some level of tech proficiency to move to better jobs, they’re not the gaming demographic. I think, however, that as more younger people engage with technology they will bring gaming with them as they become people in my age bracket and that’s going to be an interesting shift. So, kudos for even talking about poverty and technology literacy, and nice job with xplaining why gaming is important, but I still wish this had been two separate (longer) articles instead of this one.

viewer mail: gaming in libraries & deepfreeze

I got this from a reader. I know when I am out of my league but I bet some readers here will have good insight and/or advice. If you can help out my librarian friend here, please leave a note in the comments.

Do you have any thoughts/comments re: on line gaming in the public library? You know, I thought we were all set with installing Deep Freeze on the machines–sure, let the anyone download anything, restart the computer and “poof” it’s all back to it’s original state.

But then the YAs started playing “Gunz” and our new Dell is flipping out –multiple windows opening, can’t even type in a web address, cannot get Deep Freeze to “thaw”.

I feel frustrated–I really don’t want to be this negative librarian posting “no gaming” signs, albeit in a positive manner.

Any experiences along this line? Whaddya think about allowing anything to be downloaded? I really am questioning Deep Free’s strength at this moment.

games and libraries and personal librarianship

I’m not a gamer, or a parent or roommate of a gamer, so I’ve been only lightly scanning the gaming in libraries discussions that have been going around. However, reading Jenny’s recent [and popular] post about a gaming conference she went to, made me think more about games. Her phrase “embedded librarian” — though maybe a bit too reminiscent of wartime endeavors — definitely piqued my interest. It’s a concept that is applicable to many sorts of “outside the box” librarianship, from Radical Reference to freelance information brokers to simple “outside the building” outreach initiatives. My assertion has always been that everyone has a use for their own librarian from time to time. I have even been known, after solving particularly vexing information problems in my day to day life, to say “Who’s your librarian? I am right? A librarian solved that problem for you” I’m sure it makes me somewhat insufferable, but to keep the profession alive, we’ve all got to be poster children for the things we do, at work or elsewhere.