Julie in Michigan

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Library Game

When I was in high school a boy would not want to be caught learning to type. Today a teen boy would not impress his peers with an inability to find his way around a keyboard with more than one finger pecking. Today’s youth type rapidly, they text continually and socially communicate with friends and friends-of-friends via the keyboard.

Using the keypad and monitor to enter the library can bring youth to the library to obtain information, even if they don’t have a car to drive. They will do this, if entering the library and obtaining information is a skill similar to that of searching Google, finding a book on Amazon and learning the rules of the online games they play.

In our LIS requisite orientation session last August we played team games in the physical world. We warmed to it as a socially collaborative tool and because we participated in a collective intelligence (38) we performed better together than we would have solo. We will continue to have the opportunity to collaborate during the next two years in a way that will create a field of knowledge that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is the theory of knowledge and library access through the ‘third world’ of online gaming.

I’ve read some very good things about gaming and libraries. Currently I’m re-reading Nancy Courtney’s compilation, Library 2.0 and Beyond, in which David Ward talks about gaming as a “tool for collaboration”. References in the chapter include articles on Harvard offering law courses in a virtual world, games as a ‘third world’ in the information architecture of the future, games reshaping education and one titled, “From Dewey to World of Warcraft, Libraries and Digital Games”.

A Kurt Squire & Constance Steinlkuehler article in Library Journal discusses how, in the online gaming environment,"Participants don’t care about identity, age, race, gender, class or nationality" (39). He goes on to say that although no one is teaching the courses he describes as “affinity space”, those with expertise are recognized and greatly valued (39). The librarian in this role can function as a higher level character in the information seeking game (115).

Libraries are redefining themselves in the virtual world of the Internet, using gaming structures to create learning communities. Students can experience collaborative learning as the library avails itself of the technology which defines the world in which the student lives.


Courtney, N. (Ed.). (2007). Library 2.0 and beyond: innovative technologies and tomorrow's user. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

Foster, Andrea L. “Harvard to Offer Law Course in ‘Virtual World.’” Chronicle of Higher Education 53, no. 3 (September 8, 2006)

Hinton, Andrew. “We Live Here: Games, Third Places, and the Information Architecture of the Future.” Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 32, no. 6(2006)

Kirriemuir, John. “From Dewey to World of Warcraft, Libraries and Digital Games.” Presentation at TICER course Digital Libraries a la Carte: New Choices for the Future, August 25, 2006

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