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How are Libraries Supporting Gaming: A Pilot Exploration

Scott Nicholson

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


Over the last few years, some libraries have been turning to gaming activities like Dance Dance Revolution as a way of bringing in new demographic groups and exposing them to library services. Just as libraries have caused controversy in the past by adding fiction to their offerings and circulating recreational videos, libraries are creating controversy today by supporting gaming through in-house gaming activities and circulation of gaming materials.

At this point, there is little data about the penetration of gaming in library services. There is anecdotal data and guides to best practice, but there is little data about how many libraries are supporting gaming and in what ways. Over the last year, we have done a number of surveys to understand how libraries are using and supporting games. The purpose of this short paper/poster is to present the results from these first few surveys and to engage attendees in discussions about future research needs and paths to explore the intersection of gaming and libraries.

During 2007, we did two surveys of libraries to begin to paint a baseline. The first survey was a based random sample of 400 public libraries. We called each library and talked with them about how they support gaming. The second survey was less scientific but still provided useful data. For this survey, we posted requests to many librarian listservs calling for libraries that ran gaming programs in 2006 to tell us about how they support gaming. From this survey, we learned about what types of gaming programs libraries ran, the goals and outcomes of these programs, and learned more about how the field perceives “gaming.” The poster will present the results from these surveys and related explorations.

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