June 12, 2009

Free Gaming in Libraries Class Comes with Free SNAKS

If you want a glimpse into one possible future for LIS education, look no further than Scott Nicholson’s free Gaming in Libraries course, running now on a computer near you. It makes use of a fascinating mix of tools that together let anyone participate at whatever level works for them, even after this iteration ends.
Dr. Scott Nicholson is an associate professor at the Syracuse iSchool. In fact, he’s the program director for the Masters of Science in Library and Information Science program there, and if you’ve followed gaming in libraries at all, his name is already familiar to you because of his video series, the monthly podcast he runs, the annual census he started in 2007, the Library Game Lab he runs, and more.
Now he’s one-upping himself and running a 30-day, introductory course about gaming in libraries. Syracuse and WISE consortium students can take the course for credit, but anyone, anywhere can watch the daily video lectures he’s posting on YouTube and discuss them in the class community on ALA Connect (you have to join the community to see the discussions, but anyone, including non-ALA members, can do that). The syllabus is available as a Google doc, and you can even download the videos from the Internet Archive to take them on the go. So far, the videos have ranged between about 5-17 minutes, so they’re easy to watch and digest.
He’s already up to video lecture #10 (I’ve been remiss in not posting about this before now), and you can join the other 66 participants in the Connect community to discuss your thoughts about the content, including some videos by guest lecturers. In fact, this is one of the most active communities on Connect right now since it’s such a hot topic.
In fact, now is a good time to jump in, because starting with lecture #9 (posted yesterday), Scott is breaking new ground by offering new insight and specific strategies for planning gaming programs in libraries.

“This is a new conceptual model I’ve developed over the last few months on how to look at the library gaming experience, and then I use that model to create five gaming archetypes, into which you can classify all (I hope) library gaming experiences. The archetypes then form a bridge between library goals and specific game choices.

Lecture #10, Gaming in Libraries Class Session 10 – Five Gaming Experience Archetypes

Watch for yourself and see what you think. Whether you’re new to the topic or an expert advising others, the new model alone is worth it (I love that it’s called SNAKS). With a total cost of $0, you’ve got nothing to lose, and if your library’s gaming program is relatively young, the content from the course will be invaluable for you. I hope other LIS professors begin teaching Scott’s model when they talk about gaming, and libraries that use it should report back about how it works so that we can begin building resources around it. Luckily, Scott is writing a book that will include information about the model, but I’m sure he’ll be reporting further research around it via the Library Game Lab.

May 10, 2009

Take the 2008 Library Gaming Census

Filed under: precat — Tags: , , — tsladmin @ 9:26 pm

For the past two years, Dr. Scott Nicholson at the Syracuse iSchool has conducted an annual census to help us learn more about libraries offering gaming services. I can’t tell you how valuable that data has been when I get calls from reporters, so I’m hoping you’ll help us continue to build this archive of information.
If your library offered any type of gaming program last year (board games, video games, computer games, etc.), please fill out the survey before it closes on May 31. It’s open to all types of libraries, and Scott will publish the results for everyone, just as he’s done for the last two years.

March 18, 2009

I Bogied at DGPL

Often. But I had a great time playing Library Mini Golf at the Downers Grove Public Library on March 8, as did hundreds of other people on LMG’s biggest course yet (a full 18 holes across two floors). Check out the pictures from the day in my Flickr set to see just how much fun we all had. I’ll be including the event as a case study in my next issue of Library Technology Reports on gaming in libraries, which I’m currently writing.

DGPL Library Mini Golf

The DGPL staff, Friends group, and the Library Mini Golf crew (Rick, John, and Bob) all did an amazing job on this totally amazing event!

March 3, 2009

Meet Me for Tee at DGPL on March 8

Filed under: precat — Tags: , , , , — tsladmin @ 7:26 pm

DGPL Library Mini Golf event this Sunday I’ve written before about Rick Bolton and his Library Mini Golf nonprofit that creates 18-hole mini golf courses for libraries to use as fundraisers. This time I’m particularly excited to note that Rick has partnered with the Downers Grove Public Library Foundation in Chicago’s western suburbs to hold the first such event in this area, because DGPL is my home library.
If you’re in the Chicagoland area, I hope you’ll make some time to come play mini golf at Downers Grove PL this Sunday, March 8, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It’s a fundraiser, so adults can play the whole course for just $5, while kids age 15 and younger can play for $3. Putt your best and if you do well, you might find yourself in a playoff round at 4:15 p.m. Experience the stacks in a whole new way!
I can’t wait to finally see this in action for myself, so I’ll definitely be there. Give me a heads up if you’re coming, and we can tee off together. If you live in the area, consider thanking the local sponsors by doing business with them.

December 31, 2008

Hello and Happy New Year!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — tsladmin @ 5:37 pm

As 2008 comes to a close (where on earth did it go?), I want to take a moment to reflect on this past year.
When I think about everything I was lucky enough to do this this year, what stands out the most are the people I met during my travels, both online and offline. The best thing about social network sites is the social part, and this year my network expanded to include new friends and rediscovered old ones. In fact, that’s definitely been one of my highlights for the year – reconnecting with folks from my pre-online life, which to me is an indicator that online networks are definitely going mainstream. I’m seeing so many more non-techie friends there, and I really appreciate being able to connect with them in this way. I still don’t have a lot of time to spend on Twitter or FriendFeed, but I’ve gone back to Facebook more and more because that’s where I’m finding a lot of these folks. Plus, it runs at a speed that works well for me right now (something I’m going to write more about it in an upcoming post).
This was especially true this year when I had so many projects going on at work. I haven’t written about my job at ALA here very much, mainly because I’ve been too busy to blog much at all. However, this was such a productive and progressive year at my job that I want to highlight a few of the things we accomplished. While this is by no means an exhaustive list (and it’s certainly not reflective of the work done across the organization as a whole), these are just a few of the things that were personally gratifying for me in 2008, because I played a role in helping them happen. In chronological order:

  • Gaming in libraries
    The year started out big for us when we learned about the $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation. It’s allowed us to move this topic forward very quickly, and soon we’ll start posting the tangible outcomes. Watch for more to come from this grant in 2009, which will help build on our general successes around gaming so far. In 2008, we launched the Games and Gaming Member Initiative Group, ran a big game at our Annual Conference, started a new Games in Libraries podcast, held a second successful Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium, and coordinated the first annual National Gaming Day @ your library. All in all, a very good year for gaming in libraries.
  • In April, Library Technology Reports published Gaming and Libraries: Broadening the Intersections, my second issue dedicated to the topic.
  • AL Focus launched an incredibly popular series of videos for National Library Week. Full credit for these brilliant pieces goes to Dan Kraus.
  • In August, we launched the READ mini-poster generator that does just what it sounds like it does. We’ve gotten a great response to this, and you can see some of the results in the READ Flickr pool.
  • In October, American Libraries magazine celebrated Open Access Day by opening its archives and making the current issue available to everyone for free. In 2009, watch for HTML versions of current issues (not just PDFs) and expanded content. Congratulations to Leonard Kniffel and his crew for taking such a big step!
  • At the same time, the AL folks decided to open up their weekly email newsletter AL Direct and let anyone subscribe. I don’t have anything at all to do with the production of it, so I don’t think it’s self-promoting to say that I think this is one of the most valuable current awareness tools in the profession. Full credit for the content and delivery goes to George Eberhart, and my involvement has been mainly to advocate that *everyone* should be able to benefit from his hard work. Now that can include you, even if you’re not an ALA member.
  • Finally, ALA Connect just completed alpha testing, and now we’re preparing to start beta testing next week. This is one of my really huge projects at work, so it’s quite a relief to finally be at this point. It’s been a long and…educational road to get this far, but we’re getting very close. So far, the feedback has been pretty good, and I’m looking forward to launching it soon. This is one of the things I’ll be talking about more here in the future but for now, I’ll just say that I couldn’t end the year on a better note.

This was also an amazing year of travel for me, including special trips to the Netherlands (and the wonderful DOK), southeast Asia, and London. I know how lucky I am to be invited to speak in these places, and I’m thankful for the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had along the way. It’s easy to get tunnel vision about location, region, type of library, or the profession in general, and my travels reminded me of the bigger picture and dedication we all share.
I also traveled a lot domestically this year, and while I know times aren’t easy, I hope we never lose the face-to-face connections that are so valuable to our professional and personal development. Long live the conference, unconference, regional meeting, or whatever type of event brings us together. I hope that we as a profession can find the right combination of online and offline to feed our professional connections and growth.
Before this turns into one long verse of Kumbaya, though, there were hiccups in the year, and there are some things I hope to change in 2009. I’ve gotten much better about not spending too many hours just working or working only on the computer, but those changes came at the expense of reading my RSS aggregator and blogging here. I’m again examining how I spend my time to try and figure out a way to do more of both of those things. While I won’t go back to working more or give up the time I’ve gained for family and friends, I do hope to redistribute some of that time to get back to blogging more.
So hopefully you’ll see more action here in the coming year. In the meantime, I hope 2008 was a good year for you, and that 2009 is even better!

November 15, 2008

Go Have Fun at the Library – It's National Gaming Day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — tsladmin @ 2:13 pm

A reminder that today is National Gaming Day @ your library. All types of games are included, and not just for teens, plus 150 libraries participating in videogame tournaments (you can watch one of the brackets online to find out who wins!). The tag for tracking afterwards is ngd2008.

National Gaming Day @ your library logo

There are more than 600 libraries on the map, and I’m sure there are more we don’t know about. It warms my heart. :)
Have fun everyone!

November 4, 2008

Some Quick Gaming Notes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — tsladmin @ 9:42 am
  • I thought I had blogged about National Gaming Day @ your library, but amazingly I haven’t – sorry about that. This is a national event coordinated by ALA on November 15 that celebrates the opportunities libraries offer for play between diverse groups of people in a safe, non-commercialized environment. To help promote this event, Hasbro is sending a copy of the game Pictureka! to every public library in the U.S. (thanks, Hasbro!). The shipments have gone out so if you’re at a PL, you should automatically receive your game in the next week or so. Suggestions for how to use the game (and others) are available on ALA’s Games and Gaming Resources wiki, and Scott Nicholson has made a great video showing how to play the game, which also suggests other NGD activities, too.
    In addition, Wizards of the Coast donated two gaming kits to libraries that signed up to receive them (sorry, but that offer expired last week), so I want to thank them, too. It’s *very* easy to participate in National Gaming Day, so I hope to see your library on the map. If it’s too late for you to do something this year, you can start planning now for next year’s event on November 14, 2009.
  • The ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium ends today, and the tag is GLLS2008 so you can track it on sites like Flickr and Twitter. What a great group this has been. Thank you to everyone who came – you all rock! We’ll be collecting slides from presenters and posting them online, along with whatever audio we could capture (not possible in some cases). Give us a few weeks to get all of this posted, but watch the ALA Techsource blog for more info.
  • I also want to highlight the 6th Annual Chi TAG conference for folks in the Chicagoland region. This is “the only toy and game fair open to the public,” and it will take place on November 22-23 (Saturday-Sunday) at Navy Pier. The show’s founder, Mary Couzin, is an amazing person, and she’s offering librarians (and educators) free admission to the event. (There’s also a discount parking coupon you can print out from the site.) This is different from a trade show, as it’s a chance to literally sit in the aisles and play boardgames all day. ALA will have a booth there, but I’d be going anyway just to see all of the different games. If you’re in the area, this event is going to be a blast, so come join us!

October 6, 2008

Using Video Games to Bait Newspaper Readers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — tsladmin @ 10:40 pm

Using Video Games as Bait to Hook Readers

“Mr. Bagley, now a senior, was so addicted that he sometimes abandoned friends in the dining hall to return to the game. But the story was never the attraction. Both the narrative and the characters, he said, were too simplistic, and he gave up “World of Warcraft” in his sophomore year.
Video games, said Mr. Bagley, 21, ‘certainly don’t have the same degree of emotional and intellectual complexity of a book.’
Some people argue that video games are an emerging medium likely to undergo an evolution. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if, in 10 or 20 years, video games are creating fictional universes which are every bit as complex as the world of fiction of Dickens or Dostoevsky,’ said Jay Parini, a writer who teaches English at Middlebury College.” [New York Times]

I’m disappointed in this article, not because it isn’t a “rah rah, video games are great” piece, but because I don’t think it reflects what would have come from eight months of research, which is how long the author spent on it. Several librarians, including me, have talked with the reporter since January, and I think we all expected something a little deeper, regardless of the viewpoints expressed. The excerpt above is indicative of the back-and-forth, “one said good, the other said bad” piece. I don’t think this article adds anything new to the debate, and I expected a series titled “The Future of Reading” from the New York Times to offer something more in-depth.
In the end, I think this article is a rorschach test for how the reader feels about video games. If you’re against them, you probably feel like this article validates your objections. If you think video games are okay (or even beneficial), you can also find quotes to support that perspective. Certainly the comments get interesting and continue the “good versus bad” debate, but I keep wondering when we’re going to get past extremes in this discussion in order to figure out how to integrate a format that is clearly here to stay into our kids’ media diet (and into our libraries) in a balanced way.

September 24, 2008

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