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.

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May 10, 2009

Take the 2008 Library Gaming Census

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.


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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

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.

7:26 pm Comments (5)

December 31, 2008

Hello and Happy New Year!

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 coör­di­nated 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!

5:37 pm Comments (3)

November 15, 2008

Go Have Fun at the Library — It’s National Gaming Day!

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!

2:13 pm Comments (2)

November 4, 2008

Some Quick Gaming Notes

  • I thought I had blogged about National Gam­ing Day @ your library, but amaz­ingly I haven’t — sorry about that. This is a national event coör­di­nated 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!

9:42 am Comments (1)

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