October 22, 2007

House in the Technaeum

There were many reasons I hosted the ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium this past July, not the least of which was to share with others the breadth of gaming services libraries can offer. The fact that I got to meet some of my heroes (like Henry Jenkins and James Paul Gee), as well as meet new people doing interesting things around gaming, was rich and tasty gravy.

Two of those people were Mark Engelbrecht and Martin House from the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County, who received a $69,000 LSTA grant to study gaming for adults last year. There’s a reason we talk so much about the kids and the teenagers when it comes to gaming in libraries, but we can’t forget that there are valid gaming services for 20somethings, 30somethings, families, parents, boomers, seniors, and pretty much everyone else who enjoys games. So their session at the Symposium was high on my list to hear but as it turns out, when you host an event like this, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll actually get to see much of the presentations. So I missed almost all of their talk, and unfortunately we didn’t have video of it. There is audio, which you can grab to listen to here, and I highly recommend you do that.

But now, you can also read (and subscribe) to Martin House’s new blog Technaeum, where he will be posting excerpts of their research and data from the grant. I’m thrilled about this, because it solidifies 2007 as the first year we started getting actual numbers of any kind surrounding gaming in libraries, and just like Scott Nicholson’s data, PLCMC’s numbers are fascinating.


Gaming and Libraries: Reference Ain’t Dead

“As an indication that reference really ‘ain’t’ dead, I would like to share some research with you from an LSTA Innovations Grant. The library received $69,000 to create gaming programs for adults and study the impact of these events in terms of their library use. What we found is that the single biggest reason patrons cited for coming to the library was reference, or an informational need….

…libraries today are still faced with the age old charge, being ‘The People’s University.’ If my research is any indication of this, libraries are more needed than ever due to people’s needs to have knowledgeable professionals guide them through the world of information overload – oh and bad information too boot.

There is also a very good indication that patron who attended the gaming programs frequented the library more in subsequent months.”

Be sure to read the rest of Martin’s post and to check back or subscribe to his blog, because he will be posting about their research regularly. Thanks, Martin – this is a huge contribution to the profession.


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