Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Et tu, ACRL?

One might have noticed that there’s often a big difference between academic libraries and librarians and public libraries and librarians. Even as a wee librarian manque in library school, I could spot the difference between those students interested in scholarly pursuits and those interested in storytelling and prostrating themselves before an indifferent public. The former usually became academic librarians – often on the tenure track in ARL libraries – and the latter public librarians. I mean no disrespect here. The world needs prostrate librarians, too, and I’d be the first to say that one good storytelling librarian who can get children interested in reading is probably more important for our culture than the entire scholarly library literature, and considerably less boring. I’m just saying that different sorts of library work appeals different sorts of people.

The libraries are different, too. Public libraries are there to provide stuff for the kids to do and read, to entertain us, and to provide Internet access for poor people and perverts. The public librarians positively shout this at us. Libraries are there for the people! We give the people what they want! And we play games because we’ve got to get bums on seats, luv, or we’ll go out of business! Etc.

Contrast this with the more serious and scholarly world of academic libraries. Academic libraries aren’t there to entertain. If college students want entertainment they can go to a public library or a frat party. College students come to the library to read and do research. If they don’t come to the library, or they don’t read or do any research, so much the worse for them. It’s not the academic librarian’s job to pander to the ignorant multitude, or even to the ignorant minitude present on college campuses. Academic librarians are serious people with serious jobs to do, like building scholarly collections, teaching students how to do research, kowtowing to the real faculty, etc. We’re busy buying those books that are so hard for the ordinary masses to read that they usually don’t end up in public libraries. We don’t have time to run around playing games to entertain the young and the young at mind. That’s why we didn’t become public librarians. The concept seems simple enough.

But now along comes a book on "gaming" in academic libraries. You can read the press release here. "The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is releasing a new publication, ‘Gaming in Academic Libraries: Collections, Marketing, and Information Literacy.’" (I leave the quotes as I found them, though it’s painful to do so. As academic librarians know, book titles are to be underlined or italicized, while article titles are in quotes.) A kind reader sent this on. I read the press release and groaned audibly. Et tu, ACRL?
 
According to the press release, "’Gaming in Academic Libraries’ is a lively volume containing 16 examples of ways libraries are integrating games into their learning and outreach programs." The quotes again! Lively volume, indeed. Someone should have told the earnest authors of this tome that the library literature has done quite well without "lively volumes" for the entirety of its existence, and we scholarly librarians like it that way.

I haven’t read the book, but I can’t think what gaming would have to do with academic library collections. I suppose they can buy more books on games for the gamers. That certainly seems like a good way to spend ever tighter academic library budgets. "This scholarly book is way expensive, dude. Let’s buy The Girl’s Guide to Gaming instead!" I don’t know of any academic libraries that have the money even to buy the scholarly stuff they need, and now some are wasting money on games?

As for marketing, all I have to say is, please, God, no more "marketing." Librarians love to use the word marketing these days, it seems. I can tell you, though, that a lot of librarians went into academic librarianship so they could concentrate on important things, big questions, research agendas, and all that. They’re not interested in marketing. If they were, they would use their intelligence, education, and talent and go work for the Man somewhere selling soap and making more money. Some public librarians want libraries to be run like businesses and they want to pander to the lowest common denominator to "sell" their service. Academic librarians don’t want that. They actually have a higher purpose having to do with education, scholarship, learning, tenure, paid research leave, that sort of thing. Anything else is a waste of time and money.

And finally, "information literacy." Odd, thinking back over the 400 or so posts I’ve written, I don’t think I’ve ever addressed the idea of "information literacy" before, so I’ll address it now in brief. "Information literacy" is a stupid phrase, and it doesn’t have much relation to what academic librarians should be teaching students, which is how to do research. "Information literacy" sounds a lot more fancy than "research," and adds six syllables so it must be more important, but really it’s just gibberish. Most of the academic librarians I know – and I know a bunch of them – think the phrase "information literacy" is an embarassment to the profession and would never utter it in conversation without implied scare quotes.

According to some of the public librarians, public libraries are there to give the public what it wants. But academic libraries are there to teach people, not pander to them. Is academia to become as puerile and idiotic as the rest of American culture? Do we academics have to amuse ourselves to death, too? As usual, I’m sure my pleas for sanity will fall on deaf ears, but please, pretty please, leave the gaming to the public libraries and the children. There has to be some place in librarianship for the intellectual and scholarly among us, for those librarians devoted to reading hard books, supporting research, and helping students learn how to be little scholars. If academic libraries are overwhelmed by the same pandering to childish interests that public libraries have been, there’ll be no bastions of intellectual life left in libraries. Is that really what we want?

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Comments

  1. Mary Piero Carey says:

    Hmmm… well, I can see buying computer games in support of a Computer Science program that teaches Computer Graphics programmming, or Games programming, or if ths school was supporting a “history of computer science collection”, but otherwise? Not your job.

  2. John the Librarian says:

    As an author featured in the Gaming in Libraries book, I am a bit offended by your unprofessional dismissal of this topic’s relevance to our profession. Frankly, your own statement serves as evidence to your ignorance, as you didn’t read the book nor probably even peruse the chapter titles to see what might have been covered. It sounds like you should probably cut down on the coffee and actually talk with “real” librarians so you can actually get a handle on what is really happening in our world. (See I can use quotes as well.)

  3. publiclibrarEwoman says:

    Should academic librarians really have so little concern about whether students actually use their college/university libraries? I am not saying that gaming in academic libraries is the solution, but I do think that academic librarians should want to bring more students into the library to take advantage of the wealth of resources available to them. What is the point of spending so much money on academic resource materials if none of the students actually use them? Some marketing might be good–just to get the news out there about what academic libraries offer. I was surprised to learn that the university library where I went to library school actually purchases most of the books that patrons request through interlibrary loan, so submitting an ILL request is actually a great way to have a say in what resources are in the library’s collection. I would have never known about this fact unless one of my profs mentioned it in an off-handed way. Shame on my university’s library for not advertising that fact more aggressively! Students and researchers who use academic libraries need to know what typse of services their academic library offers, otherwise they will be much less likely to use all of those expensive resources.

  4. librarydude says:

    Why not read the book and then make informed comments instead of making comments based on assumptions? Hopefully you don’t encourage your academic patrons to make the same type of judgements.

  5. soren faust says:

    AL, you seem to forget that most of what passes for culture these days (the very things you deride) had its genesis in academia beginning in the late 1960s. It is the universities with their guilty chancellors kowtowing to angry and misguided youth demands that led us into the culture that now public librarians have to bear as a result of your so-called serious scholarship, like Women Studies and Multiculturalism programs. It’s evident that the universities have yet to learn a lesson with their gaming programs and co-equally share with the rest of us in the perpetuation of the “ignorant multitude.” Public librarians have to clean up your mess.

  6. her_welshness says:

    I have to agree with AL about ‘information literacy’ – I had to study it for my Masters, I thought it was a pile of poop embodiment term to cover various activities and actions going on in educational and public libraries. Also if you read about it, it has that Gene Roddenbery take to it, information literacy will literally save the Universe and will provide a happy ending for all things.

    I can see the appeal for Gaming in Public Libraries – but can the ‘Yours sincerely, Offended of Nottingham’ please offer an (unlaughable and serious)example of how Gaming works in Academic Libraries.

    Keep up the good work AL!

  7. her_welshness says:

    I have to agree with AL about ‘information literacy’ – I had to study it for my Masters, I thought it was a pile of poop embodiment term to cover various activities and actions going on in educational and public libraries. Also if you read about it, it has that Gene Roddenbery take to it, information literacy will literally save the Universe and will provide a happy ending for all things.

    I can see the appeal for Gaming in Public Libraries – but can the ‘Yours sincerely, Offended of Nottingham’ please offer an (unlaughable and serious)example of how Gaming works in Academic Libraries.

    Keep up the good work AL!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Information literacy is, in part, the ability to understand and use technology well enough to avoid posting duplicate messages in a comment forum.

  9. Matt says:

    When I was in college many moons ago I worked as a clerk in the library. Most kids went there to mess around and meet the opposite gender, not to do serious study. Furthermore, our library checked out tool boxes and vcrs. And, with all the whining I hear about colleges not funding libraries adequately and kids using the Internet instead of going to the library it seems our problems are not that dissimilar. Also, Not pandering? Ha! What do call having to bend to the whim of every crazy professor out there who demands that you buy what they want?

  10. AL says:

    “As an author featured in the Gaming in Libraries book, I am a bit offended by your unprofessional dismissal of this topic’s relevance to our profession.”

    I completely understand. I’m offended that any academic librarians would waste their time and money playing games when they could be doing something useful. Takes all kinds to make a world, I guess.

  11. Brent says:

    I am for the library buying every game out there, then checking them out for free and putting businesses that charge money for renting out of business.

    But no ”

  12. anonymous says:

    I’m not persuaded by your argument against gaming in academic libraries AL. Why not use games used to explain library organization, policies, procedures, and research methods? It’s not like these things have been handed down on dusty tablets. As a prostrating public librarian, and I prostrate myself to many indifferent library administrators and county government officials, I’m all for adding a little zest to this indifferent world.

  13. Brent says:

    Information illiterate. Beware students!

    I am for the library buying every game out there, then checking them out for free and putting businesses that charge money for renting out of business.

    But no “marketing?” Define “marketing” because that can mean almost anything. Is everything meant to be done by word-of-mouth like a great restaurant that fits 15 people, but doesn’t advertise?

  14. cantankerous says:

    “Why not use games used to explain library organization, policies, procedures, and research methods?” Geez, does everything have to be a game these days? What happened to learning by reading a book or using simple exercises out of some kind of instructional material? If it’s not entertainment in some way, then it’s not worth doing? Let me tell you, I logged many hours playing Carmen Sandiego as a kid, but I learned way more about geography and history from the books I read. Don’t assume that because the learning concepts are built into a game that anyone is actually absorbing those concepts as they play.

  15. Scott says:

    I think it depends on what we mean by gaming. If you mean Donkey-Kong and its ilk, then no, it doesn’t belong in an academic library. However, there are numerous educational games that have been developed. Actual research shows that students become more engaged in the learning process and actually learn and retain more concepts when they engage in a game. That is the ultimate point of learning isn’t it, that they actually retain some information and concepts and understand how to apply them – which is another way of describing information literacy.

  16. AL says:

    “Why not use games used to explain library organization, policies, procedures, and research methods?”

    Why not just use a handout or a web page? Cheaper, easier, and doesn’t assume that college students are too stupid to read and need to be constantly entertained.

  17. publiclibrarEwoman says:

    I am curious, soren faust, why you think Women’s Studies and Multiculturalism programs are only “so-called serious” academic studies. You mentioned those courses of study as if they are at fault for all of the negative aspects of our culture today. What do Women’s Studies and Multiculturalism programs have to do with young people being detached from academic research and detached from using libraries for learning? Most of the people I know who take courses in Women’s Studies and Multicultural Studies are some of the few students who actually do use the library for studying and research, because they care passionately about what they are studying. I, myself, double-majored in Philosophy and Religious Studies in undergraduate school, but took a heavy dose of Women’s Studies courses, and chose to live in my college’s Intercultural Living Community as well as study abroad as much as possible. The Women’s Studies courses and the multicultural programs in which I participated were some of the most thought-provoking experiences of my entire college career. I fail to see why you mentioned those two programs in particular in relation to this discussion.

  18. librarydude says:

    Oh yeah, college students are just sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the next library handout. Why not get rid of the computers and install typewriters? It would be cheaper and easier, right?

  19. TwoQatz says:

    “Librarians love to use the word marketing these days”

    I was happy to cede my position on the marketing committee to someone who doesn’t do front line library work. Oh yes … our students never miss an opportunity to eyeball our stupid displays. Maybe the work in a public library setting, but academic? I think not, but the person who puts them together is one of the least capable people I’ve ever run across in 30 years of library work.

  20. Morse says:

    To quote Bob Dylan, there’s something happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. librarydude? Computers and typewriters? Are you deliberating missing the point, as you so often seem to do? The question was why not use games to convey this information. Why should librarians try to make everything into a game? I work in a college library, and the students seem to understand research methods without playing games with them and treating them like children. What next? Why don’t we all make some sock puppets and use them to explain library policies to students? Then we could all have some juice and cookies and sing catchy songs about library research.

  21. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    “”Information literacy” is a stupid phrase, and it doesn’t have much relation to what academic librarians should be teaching students, which is how to do research.”

    You betcha, AL! I’d give my eyeteeth to have my job title changed. I am, unfortunately, the Information Literacy Librarian. (Library Goddess would suit me just fine.) When I’m asked about my title, I always want to add “not that you’re information illiterate!” There’s a negative connotation, I think, to the phrase and my title. I prefer describing myself as a reference librarian who does a whole lot o’ teaching.

  22. Seth Stephens says:

    Many people confuse marketing with promotion. They’re different! Darn it!
    If you have a program that no shows up for, it’s because you misunderstood your audience. You can promote the daylights out of a service or program but if it doesn’t resonate with intended audience it won’t fly. Marketing is nor about promotion, its about knowing your intended audience. Write on Al!

  23. sidney says:

    “Not that you’re information illiterate.” That’s funny, and the implication really does seem to be if you haven’t mastered all the skills in the ACRL infolit booklet, then you’re somehow illiterate. While there’s a lot that students don’t know about finding information, it’s not exactly like they’re illiterate, either. Librarians seem to want to turn everyone into librarians.

  24. anonymous says:

    Knowing one’s audience is one important aspect of marketing, but promotion is also a part of marketing. Why do you think companies create commercials for their products? Even though they know their audience and are targeting them, they want to make people aware of their products and to make people think positively about their products. Libraries shouldn’t just expect people to stumble onto what they have to offer. Knowing our audience should help us to make our promotional materials more effective– not eliminate the need for promotion altogether.

  25. soren faust says:

    publiclibrarEwoman, I mentioned those because when I was an undergraduate in philosophy, I didn’t take identity-based courses. Most of what was offered were philosophy courses that included all philosophers based on their philosophies and merits, and not identities. I see such courses as gender-based ones as analogous to studying fractions as a separate entity from integers. And, although I don’t blame such programs on the state of the populace today, as I know it’s more complex than that, however, I do think that these reforms in academia were indicative of a larger trend towards fragmentation and thus did contribute greatly to the kinds of problems society faces today.

  26. publiclibrarEwoman says:

    Before identity-based philosophies came along (and the courses of studies based on those), the only philosophers whose philosophies were studied in colleges and universities were dead white men. I think they were studied to the exclusion of others because their identities placed them in a priveleged position. I do not see anything wrong with adding diverse backgrounds, such as those of women and non-white people, into academia. If the only way that trend could be started was to create separate fields of study, then so be it. It is unfortunate that many thinkers in fields such as Women’s Studies still are not considered to be “philosophers,” despite the fact that what they are doing is actually philosophy. Perhaps one day, the fields of Women’s Studies and Multicultural Studies will be completely integrated with other academic fields and appreciated on just the same level as the work of dead old white men. I do agree that there is a trend towards fragmentation, but I don’t think that not studying the philosophies of women, racial minorities, etc is going to fix the fragmentation problem. Are you, by any chance, a fan of Alasdair MacIntyre?

  27. librarydude says:

    “Gaming” and “playing games” are two entirely different things when it comes to pedagogy Mr. Morse. If you think we’re talking about sock puppets and singalongs, you need to research the topic further.

  28. Liz says:

    I rarely disagree with AL, but I will on this point. Libraries are a part of the larger university community. Often we are a focal point for events on campus. That means we are in a unique position to encourage change independent of the decentralized department level. At some engineering universities, for example, ”

  29. Liz says:

    (whoops, cut off my reply)

    Game Night at the Library is a community building experience to prevent high numbers of drop outs. Studies have shown that the students who make friends, and feel a part of the larger university community are less likely to drop out.

    We have purchased a game console for final exams, and will have a few events for students who want to take a break. We have used it with nutrition and allied health classes that are studying how to get residents of nursing homes more active. Surgeons are using Wiis to practice their skills.

    I think gaming is a tool, like most things in a library. It is how you use it that makes the difference.

  30. Matt says:

    I had my prostrate checked a couple of years ago, but I guess I should go back for a check-up, esp. since I work in a public library.

    Also, I like sock puppets. I suggest the course “Philosophy of sock puppetry in a multicultural environment” It’s time to end the tyranny of dead white puppeteers.

  31. soren faust says:

    publiclibrarEwoman, No, actually I’m not a fan of Alasdair MacIntyre. A couple of my classmates were, though. They became “Christians” half way through the program. Anyway, I agee with you that non-white men should not be the sole group of philosophers studied. Unfortunately, men have controlled what is now called academics for centuries and to that I wholeheartedly agree that what was needed was to change. What I don’t agree with is how the change came about, and I’m not one of those who think that change should have come about slowly. I think the period of the 60s opened up an opportunity for non-white men to be included in the cirriculum, but as equals, not separate. The reason is because separateness in the sense of gender-studies/indentity studies creates a “false consciousness” in that it denies the fundamental fact that beyond our identities, call them variables, is our humanness which is more similiar to all than not. I think academia has a lot to answer for in perpetuating this. Instead of ameliorating the situation, academia only caused the gap to grow bigger. And, sadly, in some cases this gap has only proven to alienate the very people the original reforms were designed to help.

  32. LoneStarLibrarian says:

    If you are trying to offend public librarians, you have. Your definition of what we do is very narrow. We serve a much larger segment of the population than children who need storytelling, perverts and the poor as you imply. I see people from all walks of life in my public branch library. Rich and poor, Christian and Muslim, old and young. Their tastes and needs richly diverse – educational, recreational, you name it.

    From my point of view, academic librarians exist in a much rarer atmosphere. I value their work in the academic community. But I have no doubt that public librarians influence more lives. The public library is to me the face of democracy. I don’t necessarily always feel idealistic and high-faluting in my day-to-day work life, but on a deeper level, I am humbled by the purpose of this work and its goodness.

    I’d like to think most of your column’s purpose is to stir us all up, to play tongue in cheek. I hope so, because otherwise you are truly missing the best that there is about America and its libraries.

  33. 'Special' Librarian says:

    When gaming hits the real world of corporate libraries, then it will be a real issue. Public mouth breathers and academic ivory tower types can slap each other to silly over it until then.

  34. Jonathan says:

    “I haven’t read the book, but I can’t think what gaming would have to do with academic library collections.”

    The sad thing about your above statement, is how normal this attitude is in our society. Don’t read the book, don’t learn about this issue, just make assumptions about it based on ignorance.

    My big fear is this is the method most of the U.S. electorate will use to choose their next president.

  35. AL says:

    “The public library is to me the face of democracy. I don’t necessarily always feel idealistic and high-faluting in my day-to-day work life, but on a deeper level, I am humbled by the purpose of this work and its goodness.” When I say stuff like this, the librarians all tell me that the goal of public libraries is to bring people in the door at all costs. If that’s true, it’s hardly a deep purpose and is the face of democracy in only a very cheap way. I can’t win for losing.

  36. Kurt says:

    We’re going to try a “Story Time” for next year’s incoming freshmen. Provide snacks and juice boxes. Do the whole wear-your-jammies bit, too. Should be a good time. At least it’ll get them in the building once. And thiunk of the possibilities.

  37. Roy G. Biv says:

    The more we talk about Gaming in Libraries, and now in Academic Libraries, the more I wonder why in the bloody hell did I work so hard to earn a library degree, bust my noggin’ to work and publish academic libary research papers, and so on, when all I ever really needed to do was keep playing my PlayStation and XBox 360 (which rocks, btw).

    I admire those who have found their niche advocating Gaming in Academic Libraries, hell I wish I could join in on the fun, but I am way too swamped with work, work, and more work, affectionately known worldwide as backlog, because we do not have enough staff.

  38. Morse says:

    “”Gaming” and “playing games” are two entirely different things when it comes to pedagogy Mr. Morse. If you think we’re talking about sock puppets and singalongs, you need to research the topic further.”

    If gaming has nothing to do with playing games, then why is it called gaming? The research on this topic relates learning to playing games. This isn’t some difficult to understand field. The idea is to motivate students and teach certain lessons by having them play games. “Gaming” is nothing but another way of saying “playing games.” As for sock puppets, and singalongs, the same could be said. Librarians could write catchy songs about the research process or library policies, and everyone could sing them aloud until they learned the songs and the methods or policies. The gamers always seem to think that this is something terribly difficult to understand, that we crotchety librarians just don’t understand. We do understand; we just think it’s a waste of time and an attempt to trivialize certain types of learning by turning everything into a game.

  39. gamer says:

    They used to say the same thing about the telephone.

  40. Morse says:

    That it was a waste of time trying to turn everything into a telephone? If so, they were right.

  41. Forever Anon says:

    AL said: “Academic librarians are serious people with serious jobs to do, like building scholarly collections, teaching students how to do research, kowtowing to the real faculty, etc.” Academic librarians are not the only ones doing such things. AL, please go to a random library, one that does not “market” gaming and is not trying to be hip. You will see public librarians (or paraprofessionals) doing many of the same things you say academics do. I love how you backhandedly compliment public librarians in the beginning and then imply they are inferior to academic librarians by saying, “As academic librarians know, book titles are to be underlined or italicized, while article titles are in quotes.” It may be quite a shock to your prejudices, but public librarians are not stupid. We are also all not the rah-rah 2.0 cheerleaders, the gamers, or children’s librarians. Your stereotypes are getting old.

  42. Forever Anon says:

    And by pulling the whole “I haven’t read the book” line, you’re no better than the “rubes” you write about in your infamous censorship posts. You’d think an academic would appreciate the concept of becoming knowledgeable about a topic before forming an opinion.

  43. AL says:

    Are my censorship posts now infamous? Excellent!

  44. Mr. Kat says:

    The AL did not go to great lengths describing the contents, so I went and found the book online. The table of contents reads like the contents straight out of a journal, and indeed, this appears to be a collection of 16 research papers.

    A review of the titles was not entirely brightening. Indeed, it seems to be a collection of articles about how to get more students into your library by means of the old bait and switch; if they go to the library for games, chances are, they will then go to the library for actual research too. This line of reasoning is entirely false, and having been a college student for way too long, I think I could speak well to the psyche of the modern college student and modern college programming.

    Modern college programming is striving hard towards getting students motivated towards community involvement. The free food is just the beginning of the distractions these organizations produce and to no end. These activities are necessary for promoting citizenship and more importantly getting these programs more people to perpetuate their funding. I have doubts, however, about just how useful they are for students in research-orientated majors beyond the sophomore year.

    Academic libraries are first and foremost in place to provide information for harder higher-level research that is beyond what common people might desire. This information requires a higher level of engagement and self-dedication since it is typically very boring and very dry, despite the caliber. These people doing this research got here after years of undergraduate studies that increasingly connected them with the material until the simply fell in love with the subject, so to speak, and now they have no problems reading this boring stuff for hours on end. I cannot imagine then why libraries are pandering, and pandering at this level. The library is supposed to be the central core for information and yet here it appears the library is doing the opposite: investing in distraction.

    One paper spoke about building a collection of video games in the academic library; I cannot imagine a more destructive collection. When I was in the dorms, every other door was open with the sounds of videogames blaring out of each room. These students routinely did not go to class, and I cannot imagine their work being any more successful. Now the libraries want to make life a little easier by giving these people a local free game collection? And they do this in the name of getting students engaged with the library? Yes, it is true that you will retain students in college longer, but now you have these kids lasting until their senior year or more before they drop out. Just because the warm bodies stay in school does not mean they will be scholars and become academically inclined.

    Indeed, the fact of the matter is that students are not information illiterate, even though the library would like to think so since they do not see many students doing research in the stacks; the students are quite the opposite. The students are so vastly information literate that they have become very good at minimizing those academic pursuits they don’t like doing; research happens to be one of them. The students have been further aided and abetted in their academic delinquency by the professors on one side and by technology on the other.

    The professors have become wise to the student who is there for the college experience but otherwise really doesn’t care about whole formal college education; the general student’s lack of engagement shows in the low level of scholarship in papers they write. The professors have further discovered that if they make the papers shorter, the papers may still be filled with crap, but it’s a whole lot less crap to read and a whole lot easier to grade efficiently. While I was in school, I watched the papers shrink in size from five and six pages my freshman year to two and three by the end of my graduate degree. A two to three page paper means minimal research is necessary because simple statistics illustrates there is only room in such a paper for between three and four quotations, maximum, with the rest of the room to be devoted to analysis and proper point assertion a la the P-I-E essay formula. Students get this.

    If you don’t think that my first point kills the library for the general scholar [sic], I move on to the second: Wikipedia has grown by leaps and bounds in the last couple of year. The articles on that site are becoming progressively well cited, and now students use those Wikipedia pages to find their citations. And why not? One Google search yields a Wikipedia page with a short synopsis overview about the entire topic, a pile of citations from a number of sources, and the coup de grace: a complete reference citation listed at the end of the page. This is one stop shopping at it’s best. Your smarter Koollege students will then go to the library and get a couple books from the Wikipedia reference list, read the pages where it discusses the part discussed on the Wikipedia Page, and after 2 hours or work the night before it is due, they will have their paper done and four more weeks automatically open up for you guessed it, more gaming.

    The fact of the matter, in my mind, is that there are far too many people in academia these days who are mentally ill suited for the formal university environment. They are there for the college party syndrome that has been widely spread by the help of Animal House and other such depictions of the wilder side of college. They are not there for intellectual discourse, and if you could just maybe shorten classes by ten more minutes a day, make Friday optional, and remove that entire week in mid October, they would be even happier. Their world is a game grounded in adolescent activity, and if Michael Jackson is any hint, they will remain adolescents for as long as they wish.

    We can cry as much as we want about how standards in research and excellence have eroded and fallen, but it will not change the world. The fact of the matter is that Universities have become big businesses as well, seeking to pack as many students in the door to maximize tuition income. State university budgets are being targeted for cuts since more legislatures are supporting self-sufficiency ala conservative small government; yes, it’s cheaper on paper, and why on earth should old people pay for the education of young people? [That’s a discussion for later] Meanwhile, we have already discussed how the collections in public libraries reflect the mental conscious of the public citizen: gaming, blockbuster collections, and mind candy. It does not surprise me that this gamey way of thinking has transcended the youth public culture and ended up in the higher levels of academia; some of these kids do graduate, after all, and they even end up

  45. Mr.Kat says:

    P.S. This whole debate about Title formating and reference formating in general is really quite humorous. Here is what I have learned through my life of doing research across refernce citations from a good number of reference lists, no two formats alike:

    It does not matter how you write the title, so long as you write the full title, nor if you write the author as Last name initial initial, althoguh I will love you more if you write it as last name, First name, middle name with no abbreviations like initials. There’s simply too many J S Smiths in this world today to keep track of them that way anymore!!

    It does not matter if you use MLA or ALA or CBS or ABC or ALFA-BET SOOP Format to cite your sources. What DOES matter is that you provide enough information so that if someone else entirely unfamiliar with your field was to encounter your paper, they would be able to turn to the reference section and use your citation to find the book, or article, or what not.

    Now in your own papers it is a reflection of proper stewardship to format all of the references the same way; it makes the paper look nice, pretty, and presentable. I am at a loss, however, at those people who wish to force their specific formatting preference [PREFERENCE, not RULE] on the rest of the world.

    We could save ourselves a whole lot of time if we simply stopped this “uniformity” nonsense. Put the title in quotes, since italics and underlines are not supported in every funcitonal format, and live with it.

    See how simple life can be when you stop worrying about the form of trite things and focus instead on functionality?

  46. penn girl says:

    “See how simple life can be when you stop worrying about the form of trite things and focus instead on functionality?”

    If you apply this sentence to the rest of your post, we would all be better off.

  47. Mr. Kat says:

    Hmmm…the rest of my post starts on a premise, makes a point, cites instances where this point has been relevenat, analyzes the premise based upon that point, and concludes with a hypothesis on how this particular phenomenon became widespread.

    To simply make a point without the background evidence is to have a discussion without a frame of reference.

    But this is not the most troubling matter at hand. It appears to me that your attempt at a belittling statement is constructed around what is the form of my post and not the message contained there within, while the citation you have used places a de-emphasis on format and re-emphasizes a focus on content.

    If your real purpose were to detract or debase my writing and devalue my voice in general, then you would have been more successful if you used the citation involving students, professors and crap in my first post.

    This brief exchange speaks volumes about information literacy and why it has become such important issue in this day and age.

    Good Job.

  48. penn girl says:

    Actually, the “volume” part is the problem, as in “too much.” Believe it or not, we’re unimpressed with your command of language.

  49. clear and open mind says:

    AL said: “And we play games because we’ve got to get bums on seats.”

    Actually they prefer to be called homeless.

  50. Mr. Kat says:

    The volume is entirely appropriate for a discussion of academic philosophical discourse. At this point in my academic career I am not satisfied with mediocre one-liners except where they are appropriate. To scratch the surface is simply not enough; I want to go deeper, and so I will put everything I have on the table in hopes that others will follow AL’s suit, so that by the end of the day we have a complete picture of the problem, the solution and the arguements both for and against the very existance of the problem in the first place.

    I am not here to impress you; I am here to discuss matters of great social importance. For some reason the AL has a large following within which there are a number of very bright individuals; I look forward to their long posts as much as I look forward to new long posts from AL. This is my mind candy.

    If you do not wish to read what I post, you do not have to. If the length makes you uncomfortable or somehow affects your self esteem, I apologize but the only person responsible for your personality management is you and nobody else. I refuse to be like everybody esle because I am not like everybody else, and neither are you. I will not conform to being like you; there is one of you already and that is more then enough.

    But I assure you this: I read every bit of what you and everybody else has to say on this blog at least once before I make my posts; to do otherwise would be highly disrespectful.

    You may not be impressed with my command of language; I am not impressed with a command of language that represents little more then delighting in personal thought suppression. It reeks of medocrity.

    So without further ado, shall we get back to actually discussing the matters at hand? I believe this blog is about Gaming in Academic Libraries. Good Luck and Good Night.

  51. penn girl says:

    That’s a little better. Thank you.

  52. a person says:

    You people need to relax.

    This blog is entertaining, although I wonder why people take it so seriously.

  53. RL says:

    It would be much more calm and quiet in my library if my patrons would just accept that I know what is best for them. I could inform them that it doesn’t matter if they pay for the library, they will read what I tell them to.

    Then there would be the touching and endearing stories of how much better their lives became because I made them read Proust instead of allowing them to engage their baser instincts and read, and I shudder to even contemplate it, popular fiction.

    Honestly, who allowed my patrons to believe that this was THEIR library? It certainly wasn’t me.

  54. children's librarian says:

    “I’d be the first to say that one good storytelling librarian who can get children interested in reading is probably more important for our culture than the entire scholarly library literature, and considerably less boring.”
    Well, thank you for that, at least.
    For the other posters who seem to equate story time, using puppets and songs to teach and to entertain, and working with children as either something easy or something mindless, please consider this: what most people are lamenting here is a perceived lack of academic interest on the part of students. There is an outcry over students who don’t want to read, or write. Yet studies show that what children learn in the first five years of their life dramatically impacts their success later in life, in particular with regards to literacy (informational or otherwise). So, please, don’t put us down for doing our jobs. If we do them well, we’re actually helping you do yours – we’re instilling a love of reading, an understanding of language, and an ability to learn.
    [salutes children's librarians and early childhood educators as she steps down off her soapbox]

  55. Mr. Kat says:

    CL, you have raised a GREAT issue concerning students who don’t want to read or write. You then made a good point about how early development has a large impact on later attitudes. I wish to make a counterpoint to your advocacy.

    If your programming focuses entirely on just the Fun aspect, then your students will graduate from your program ready for the next level of Fun Education. I agree that the Fun Education is indeed a lot of fun and much easier to do, but in the long run not all problems can be solved with Fun Education. At some point in your program you have to instill the value of discipline in these activities; reading is not always intrinsically easy or fun; sometimes the results take days or even years to manifest into an understanding that is meaningful or enlightening.

    Harder problems of a more complex nature require more rigid methods of learning that are not necessarily fun or easy but vital for competent progress. These are times we have to force ourselves to do something even though at heart we really don’t want to; these things may be things like doing all of the calculus homework problems each week, or reading the entire chapter before going to philosophy class, or writing a twenty page paper about how Great Invasions have played a role in the Development of Women in Western Cultures. Discipline Education maintains us through those times when the work is simply not fun, but it must be done, so we push through and do it anyway.

    If the students are unable or ill prepared to do work that is not fun, how will they be prepared for the real world where *gasp*, life isn’t all fun and games? We see this problem manifesting itself in our current culture, as I am sure every culture before us has stated before: the youth of today simply don’t have any discipline anymore!

  56. soren faust says:

    children’s librarian, I have a great deal of respect for children’s librarians. I know the ones in my library are very dedicated and talented. The library I work for is very large and the children’s department seems like it’s on the other side somewhere, but I’ve been down there from time to time and I know that I probably wouldn’t make a good children’s librarian. I do think that children at that age are in a crucial stage of development and the children’s librarian can have a deeply substantial influence on whether they continue to be users of the public library in the future or not. So kudos to you.

  57. children's librarian says:

    Thanks, Soren. Much appreciated.

    And Kat, your points would be well-taken if we were talking about a school environment, or older children. In fact, the programs which I do for children over the age of 7 – none of which involve electronic gaming – are geared toward the educational (things like book clubs for kids, reading buddy programs, or the ‘fun’ programs you deride but which are based on literature). However, you have to learn to walk before you run, and to crawl before you walk, and that is really what story time is for children under the age of 6 or 7. “Fun” does not equal “uneducational” in these cases. These are children who do not yet know how to read – they are in the stages of emergent literacy. Reading a story out loud (and doing it well) teaches them that words have meaning, that the words and pictures go together, how books work, etc. If you make it “fun” then what the kids learn is that reading is a positive thing. It is enjoyable. Unfortunately, too often when they get to school and start the official process of learning to read, it can be frustrating for many, and the “fun” and enjoyable aspects of reading don’t re-emerge until they are good at it. Reading is a struggle for many people. What we do through story time is to demonstrate that it is worth the struggle. The rhymes, which probably sound silly and trite to adults, actually increase children’s vocabulary and their ability to remember language – this is why nursery rhymes remain a staple of early childhood. And, as I said before, all of this is crucial in the early years – from birth to age 5. These are not the years during which one would practice the kind of educational discipline that you are talking about. At these developmental stages, as children “play” and have “fun” they are also learning – you can’t separate the two. This is true in even the more educationally rigorous and advanced countries like Japan and Denmark.
    However, I have also been a high school teacher and can attest to the value of including some fun and games into the classroom. It *is* effective as a teaching method, especially as a form of reviewing or summarizing the information which was taught in the more disciplined way you advocate. It’s all about balance, my friend.

  58. children's librarian says:

    Kat – I just re-read your post and also wanted to address the idea that FUN programming is somehow *easier* do to. Perhaps because it’s enjoyable? I’m not sure. It takes as much thought to plan a program which is fun as it does to plan a program which is instructional, because you still have to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. What is it you want the children/students/patrons to get out of it? These are not the things which are obvious to observers.
    It reminds of a time when I was teaching swimming lessons (I was a lifeguard in my younger days). I had a parent complain that I was using too many songs and games, and my manager asked that I speak to the parents. I explained that when I was doing a song where all of the children did actions, I was actually assessing their skills. I had to see each skill performed three times in order to check it off. Now, I could have made each child stand at the wall and have them blow bubbles one at a time, and to parents watching it would look more like I was “teaching” but it would also mean that their child spent a great deal of time just standing around and waiting. Instead, the kids were active through the whole lesson, they were having fun (and not having the pressure of feeling like they were being examined), and I was able to assess the skills in order to pass them to the next level.
    All of which is my way of saying that a lot more goes in to programs and lessons than meets the eye. People with experience and training know what they’re doing. And although I don’t think I’d use gaming in libraries for children, and don’t currently use it for teens, it’s still something to consider when discussing it: perhaps there is a grander purpose that the gamers have in mind that the rest of us don’t see.

  59. WannaBe Academic Librarian says:

    All I can say is, “Amen, AL!” (please note the appropriate use of quotation marks too!) As someone who would dearly love to be an academic librarian, I hate seeing those with a public library philosophy being welcomed as “enthusiastic innovators” or some such crap! If they want to treat college students the same way the public libraries kowtow to their YA audience, I wish they’d just stick to the public library arena in the first place. Then again, it could be my bitterness talking. I’ve wanted to be a serious academic librarian for many years, and just can’t seem to muster enough Rah Rah attitude to get the job.

  60. effinglibrarian says:

    on “John the Librarian” (way up at the top of the comments)
    in place of educating AL on what is in the book, maybe attaching a paragraph or two, John says nothing.

    The “don’t criticize until you try it” argument is pointless.

    John, if you cared about your contribution to the book, you’d take this opportunity to market it to the thousands of eyeballs AL provides. But I guess you missed that.

    Every dope who gets mad at AL misses this logic: make your point and get people to agree with you, you dopes. You spend so much effort saying how AL should quit blogging when you be marketing yourselves. For example: read the.effing.librarian blog!!! It’s hilarious! See how easy that was.

  61. AL says:

    Sad, but true. For the earnest librarians, the AL lends credibility to that which she criticizes and makes suspect that which she loves. Oh, and effing, I LOVE your blog!

  62. D. says:

    Funny how academic librarians are all serious and such and we lowly public librarians do nothing but pander (twice) in your vision of the universe.

    Maybe we all should follow the poet:

    “listen: there’s a hell
    of a universe next door; let’s go”

  63. Mr. Kat says:

    CL, It sounds to me like you are in general a talented and balanced educator with a firm grasp of instructional pedagogy who has a great position as a children librarian. Kudos to you!!

    I personally learned how to read and count by way of road signs and mile markers along far too many miles of daily traveling. I learned early that they mean something and so I had my mom read them all to me when I was three or four. By the time I was five she had me read them to her. By age six and seven I was reading Tolkien’s unabridged Hobbit; I wrote a coherent book report on it in first grade. But I am most certainly an exception to most rules.

    If you think Second grade was easier, you’re wrong. I was then given the task to read 100 books; my idea of a “book” was either Tolkien or Watership Down. THOSE where books; anything else was a picture book and not anywhere near the same caliber. Naturally I struggled with this assignment and even missed the primary due date. One night my parents finally broke me by sitting me down with the full stack of Little Golden Books and told me to read each one to them. This experience really introduced me to the concept of lowering my standards and further about how I could lower my own level of activity and still get the same grade. My writing assignments, which consisted of four sentences each day after recess, show this prominently; the last two lines of nearly every entry became “I like to learn. I like school.” My dad was rather not amused later on.

    So I can appreciate your argument that formal reading becomes a challenge in schools. I would suggest that formal education in general is a struggle for the greater part of mankind, especially since it is always in competition with more compelling activities. I am mostly speaking against those programs that resemble little more then television but without the box; these programs are one sided to the point that they inhibit future learning elsewhere. If your program is showing that the struggle is worth sticking to the process even when it is difficult, then you are indeed doing a little discipline learning during your fun learning. Balance is still being achieved!

    In Kindergarten my class had Letter books where each letter of the alphabet was an individual workbook. These items were each a complete, fully balanced educational tool that emphasized all parts of Fleming’ VARK learning model. Two years later my brother was in the same room with the letter people, a learning system that seemed to emphasize only the more fun kinesthetic aspects of learning styles. I can appreciate that the district no doubt ended letter books due to the expense, but I have doubts about the effectiveness of a system where a single mode is exalted at the discursion of others. In short, this second system resembled television without the box, with lots of singing, dancing, and kinesthetic activities that were not conducive to forming good classroom habits. This foundation is even more detrimental for students with attention deficiencies as my third brother proved not soon later.

    I make the argument that “Fun” Education is easier to do because I have spent time doing it and I was successful at doing it. And the fact of the matter is that while I had to have more elements prepared for activities, I also had to spend less time thinking about the specifics. Preparing a lecture takes quite a bit more work because indeed, there is more material that is disseminated during a 50-minute lecture than during active learning sessions over the same amount of time. The greater difficulty is that in this day and age advocates for any one system are very ardent about pushing everyone to using a single style and abolishing all else. Each system has its place, and as you stated, balance is the key. If we stop teaching some styles, then our students are ill prepared when they actually meet challenges resembling those eliminated styles.

    Tying this back into the matter at hand: I can understand libraries trying to get a hand in the fun activities on college campuses. I cannot understand however why academic libraries need to pander to the same fun levels as the rest of the more social aspects on campus. I further come from a university campus where the geology department issued a vote of no confidence when the library polled the university departments for support. The serious people on campus are quite disturbed when even further distractions are added to draw their students away from their more noble aspirations. Offering these gaming libraries seems to be a bit over the top especially when you consider how much fun is already available on our current college campuses. These distractions are not going to be very effective in coming years as our largest classes of ADD/ADHD diagnosed students finally graduate and advance to collegiate activity.

    As for the general gamers, I don’t think their grander purpose is all that transparent: they want a GameStop without the Stop and Pay!

  64. Frogger says:

    It must be nice to have so much free time to be able to ramble on blogs all day. I can only imagine the possibilities if all that energy and time were devoted to something worthwhile

  65. soren faust says:

    Sorry, wannabe academic librarian, it seems your years of working with the filthy, debauched, lunatic, perverted, execrable, wretched and bewildered masses have tainted you forever for the clean, godly, privileged, deserving, and talented few. You must have done something really, really bad in another life to have been, apparently, relegated to the public library, permanently.

    I don’t know, maybe working in an environment that is similiar to working in a snug coccoon while on a heavy dose of narcotics might be more attractive after years of being on the front lines. Knowing my penchant for methadone, I just might make the switch.

  66. soren faust says:

    Just think, frogger, in the 30 seconds it took you to write your comment you could have written a subject guide or something.

  67. Frogger says:

    I don’t write subject guides. We’re no longer in the 1980s.

  68. children's librarian says:

    Oh, Soren Faust.
    Sometimes, you are just a wee bit of awesome. :)

  69. SarahPalin? says:

    Judgmental, much?
    “I haven’t read the book, but I can’t think what gaming would have to do with academic library collections.”
    I suggest you read the book to find out. And maybe then you can offer us some intelligent criticism, rather than just blathering on about something you admit to knowing nothing about.

  70. carptrash says:

    I’m so confused, but I liked this idea, seen earlier.
    “Then we could all have some juice and cookies “

  71. crism says:

    I have worked in both an academic library and a public library. I’ll admit I can’t see the relevance that gaming has for academic libraries, but then I haven’t read the book.

    I was insulted by AL’s references to public libraries. I think y’all are forgetting an important point. Public libraries serve a different purpose than academic libraries, which *should* lead to different librarian behaviors. Public libraries are supposed to support basic scholarly and life skills, (such as learning to read, balancing a checkbook, cooking a meal, or applying for a job) personal self-improvement (lose weight, cease smoking) and lifelong learning.

  72. crism says:

    I have worked in both an academic library and a public library. I’ll admit I can’t see the relevance that gaming has for academic libraries, but then I haven’t read the book.

    I was insulted by AL’s references to public libraries. I think y’all are forgetting an important point. Public libraries serve a different purpose than academic libraries, which *should* lead to different librarian behaviors. Public libraries are supposed to support basic scholarly and life skills, (such as learning to read, balancing a checkbook, cooking a meal, or applying for a job) personal self-improvement (lose weight, cease smoking) and lifelong learning.

  73. Mr. Kat says:

    Take a look at the “book” online; this is hardly a “book’ and much more an “anthology,” a collection of library science research papers on the subject of gaming, all bound up in a single cover.

    I would be excited except that the field of library science is notoriously littered with low quality peer review. so there is no guarantee the the quality of this book is consistant, and no guarantee that the book is overall meaningful.

  74. librarydude says:

    More assumptions based on appearance rather than content. Seems to be a lot of that going around.

  75. Morse says:

    Yet you seem determined to defend something you haven’t read. Curious. It’s almost like you’re desperate to find something to criticize about this blog despite the fact you can’t quit reading it.

  76. librarydude says:

    I’m defending a concept, not an object.

  77. Morse says:

    Keep telling yourself that. Whatever lets you sleep at night.

  78. Mr. Kat says:

    If you have read research papers for as long as I have, you know one when you see one just by reading the title.

    I used to work in a science lab; my primary focus was journal research to support the theoretical research of the lab participants.

    Go read the table of contents and think about it. If you have any doubts, go read the book; but I don’t think it is really going to be necessary to go that far to conclude that this is a gamey libraran book for gamey librarians everywhere.

  79. Happily Anonymous says:

    I dunno about in the US but in Australia you pretty much have to learn how to use the library (or at the very least the online journal databases and ebooks the library provides) to do your assignments and get your degree. I really don’t see how you can do a university level unit on anything that is so badly constructed you need never read the research or theory or anything. I suppose you could just get around the library if you had enough cash to buy your own copies of everything, but why bother? I really don

  80. Happily Anonymous says:

    I really don;t think academic libraries will need to be using gimmicks to get people in the door – they just don’t have a choice.
    P.S. Effing, you rock. You so get it, and that is why I read your stuff too, you’re not a moron.
    P.P.S Mr Kat, I like your long coherent posts which outline a serious argument and engage with the subject in a meaningful way, so don’t listen to people who don’t like to read anything over 2 sentences.

  81. effinglibrarian says:

    AL commented: “Oh, and effing, I LOVE your blog!”

    Oh, you make a girl blush. It’s just something I threw together. I didn’t think you noticed.

  82. Alaska Hottie says:

    We’re all in trouble now.

  83. Et tu d2 says:

    Let’s see … today in the PUBLIC library I:
    1. Taught a patron to use the databases
    2. Found 3 scholarly articles on plant cell division
    3. Helped a laptop user with ENDNOTE software
    4. Poured through Worldcat looking for obsolete music.

    but … I’m just a little ol’ public librarian.

  84. Axel Rose says:

    You make it sound like those things are hard to do.

  85. Travis says:

    Maybe the all powerful and all knowning AL would rather just close all the libraries in the world and just give up on our profession? After reading the all mighty AL’s profession, I have considered dropping of LIS school and find another career.

  86. bejeezuz says:

    This whole exchange just makes me feel like I am in a committee meeting where nothing actually gets done. Thanks for the pontification, the exchange, the debate, the whatever. I wish librarians (myself included) could just do their jobs without needing to justify every idea or action. Try something. If it works, great. Talk about it and share your idea and your success (or lack thereof), and then try the next thing. But for the love of libraries, stop the endless backstabbing and one-upping. We all got the degree, or something similar or equivalent experience. I completely understand that we can’t assume we’re all here for the same reasons or passions–but if we can’t assume that we have the same ability to assess an idea before accepting/rejecting it, then it’s time to get out. Which of course, since I don’t trust that of my peers, is why I am getting out. Like so many of my peers who have given up on libraries because of this nonsense.

  87. anon nun says:

    What does that have to do with fish oil supplements?

  88. WebbyGrl says:

    Sorry for the late post. Obama won the election and I’ve been grieving…An interesting thing happened one day in the US Air Force. A student pilot scored a perfect score on an F-16 fighter simulator machine. The instructor pilots were dumbfounded and wanted to know how he did it. The student admitted to learning to ”

  89. WebbyGrl says:

    Whacked off at the knees. Rats. And I have an appointment or I’d repost. Oh well, probably wasn’t interesting anyway.

  90. Vox NY #114 says:

    Silly AL. The games aren’t *actually* for the patrons, that’s just what we tell people. The games are so the librarians can distract themselves from the fact that they made poor career choices, since most campuses don’t allow us to drink while on duty.

  91. fart says:

    i farted