I am an advocate of the value of games in a community setting. In recent months there has been a boom of local (London, On) game activity that has inspired me to write a short blog post about gaming and libraries. When I say gaming, I do not mean video games, but refer to more traditional games such as board games, card games, role playing games, and even outdoor games.
Recently in London, On there has been a push for games in the community. For years there has been a gaming group located at the Crouch Library (Hamilton Road, London, On) that meets every saturday in the community space of the library. Recently there was the Forest City Comicon that showcased not only comic books, but many traditional game vendors and new games available to try out. This was very well attended and from what I heard from the organizers was a huge success for something that was in its first year. In November a group known as ‘Project Play’ put on their own game convention at the Western Fair grounds and this was very well attended as well. Over the past few months a pub in downtown London has put on a weekly board game night every Sunday, and just last week I was informed that downtown London will be opening its first board game cafe sometime before the year is out.
After saying all this, how does any of this relate to the library? The London Public Library is a public institution, devoted to serving the local populace. As such, It has been shown above that games play, or have begun playing, an integral part in the community. Board games are not just for children and have value as community tools. Games are social times, can build confidence in people, allow people to temporarily escape their lives if they wish. Games can build character, and help develop friendships and bonds. These skills and values are important to community, and as a community institution libraries should be building on this.
The London Public Library has some game times built into its programs, such as chess boards on the main floor of the central branch; I have also been part of the libraries children’s activities that involved using games as a learning tool with children. Over the summer I volunteered for outreach at various events, where I took a large snakes and ladder board and played the game with children, using ourselves as game pieces and a giant blow up 6 sided-die. These are great starts to getting involved, but I believe games could also help adult patrons, not just the young and the elderly. Public libraries should reach out to their local game and hobby shops, or organizers and talk to them about hosting events and workshops involving games geared towards adults. They could build programs to not only go out into the gaming world, but also invite the gaming world into the library.