or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Gaming at the Library, Old School Style

   October 30th, 2008

Patrons playing on game tableLast month, my library added to our collection a nice new game table. It was donated in memory of a long-time patron who enjoyed board games.

It's a very nice table - all wood, "pub height," and the different game boards are self-contained in the table top. The included games are:

  • Chess
  • Checkers
  • Scrabble
  • Backgammon
  • Monopoly

We set it up in the Teen area and are circulating game piece sets from the reference desk. We also did a "games" display near the desk to promote the table.

The problem is, no one has used it yet to play games. I see people sitting at it to study by the windows, but the five sets of game pieces have yet to be checked out. Something like this might take awhile to catch on, and we've been toying with the idea of starting a chess club.

But regardless, I like having it. It's a nice way to remember a patron we all miss, and it encourages people to use the library for more than just academic research - it's a place in the community people can come to relax and enjoy someone else's company.

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6 Responses to “Gaming at the Library, Old School Style”

  1. Shannon Says:

    Have you thought about leaving a subset of game pieces at the table? Maybe the chess or checkers? (Those being easiest to replace when they go missing.) It might demonstrate to kids that the table is available for play.

    We had a chess club at my previous library. It became pretty popular with the preteen crowd, giving them a non-school-related reason to visit the library.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    No, but that is a good idea. All the pieces that came with the table were nice wooden sets, so there might be resistance to leaving them out. But I agree that it would encourage play (and if we leave them out, then we can could anyone who touches them as a circ, which is good for our stats). Good idea – I’ll bring this up with my coworkers. Thanks.

  3. Mary Ellen Petrich Says:

    Who are the two young women playing Monopoly? Are they ‘Refrigerator Ladies‘?

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Mary Ellen: They are indeed – I asked two of our Pages to pose. I was just thinking a simple picture, but they really got into laying all the cards out and rolling the dice and moving their pieces around the board. Any diversion from shelving is a good one.

  5. Mary Ellen Petrich Says:

    Maybe they would be willing to play a little Monopoly every day. If people see them playing, they might want to play themselves. It’s sort of like graffiti. One person does it, and everyone wants to. Or perhaps you have some willing volunteers?

  6. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Mary Ellen: I like that idea – it would probably work, if I could convince the director to let two Pages (or me, for that matter) spend some time each day playing. Someone else suggested just leaving the pieces on the table, and that might prompt people to use them.

    But actually, I’m happy to report that we’ve finally had our first actual patrons check out a game and play together. It was a father and his six year old son, and they spent about two hours playing chess. Reluctantly, the son admitted that his dad won.