VGL Classic: The Video Game Librarian

This article is from the original batch of Video Game Librarian articles I wrote for Gaming Target between 2005 and 2007. It was the first Video Game Librarian article and was originally written on February 25, 2005.

Libraries and video games have never managed to hit it off. Several games, including GoldenEye and Halo, have levels called “The Library”, but that’s really where it ends. People in all corners of the Internet debate about the academic merits of games, but libraries are ignored. Until now. Public libraries all over the country have been adding video games to their collections. Its very possible that a library in your hometown has games on its shelf right now.

When I am not writing about games, I work at one of these libraries. I had floated the idea of adding games to my manager several times last year, but always as a joke. Even though many patrons, children and adults, had requested that we carry video games. Libraries would never carry console games I thought. But in a sense, games are already a recognized part of a good library as most carry CD-ROMs, a few of which might even be games. However, they are the exception, not the rule. Around June of last year, we discontinued our CD-ROM collection. Everything was being locked down with CD Keys and other security measures and it made the borrowing and re-borrowing of materials between patrons impossible. CD Keys would lock up and refuse access to the install process after a piece of software had only circulated several times. Even though we were well within our rights that were spelled out in the License Agreements.

This was my opening. I explained to my manager that video games didn’t require CD Keys, and that unless they were scratched beyond repair they would always work. I was also given a break because many public libraries are looking to increase their use by teens. Graphic novels had been added earlier in the year and helped the circulation numbers a little, surely I argued, games could bring in more people. So at the end of the year, I was given the OK to use a little leftover money in the budget to look into video games. Continue reading