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Gamey Librarians Ruin Our Country

The latest issue of the other AL, American Libraries, has a cover story on "Gaming @ your library," prompting me, as usual, to be "annoyed @ your ampersands." I was surprised. The cover had pictures of board games, not videogames. Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Monopoly, etc. I always thought the Gamey Librarians were talking about boring and pointless videogames when they were talking about gaming @ their libraries, not boring and pointless board games. This is truly a revelation to me.

With the reluctance and slight wince I always have when opening a publication of the ALA, I turned to the cover story, thinking perhaps that the writer for AL didn’t know much about games. Apparently that’s happened before. But no, the libraries were really working with board games, though there was also mention of something called a Wii, which I hear from informed sources is some sort of videogame apparatus.

The next page after the article reported on a survey from Syracuse about library gaming, though, and it was clear that those people Syracuse interviewed don’t consider board games to be real games, because it’s all about Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution and other silliness. 

I hate to admit it, but this time I’m going to have to agree with AL, because the article was taking a much broader perspective than the gamey librarians, and was specifically discussing educational games and how they were helping the little kiddies. The gamey librarians aren’t interested in helping the kiddies. They just want the kiddies to have FUN! @ their library!

At first I thought the gamey librarians were doing nothing more than wasting time and money on frivolities, but it’s just possible that they’re doing their best to make the children of today into the unproductive citizens of tomorrow. Since the children are our future, I’m counting on those citizens of tomorrow to be productive as all get out so that their 35% payroll tax can pay my Social Security.

Why do I say this? You might have missed the story that some job recruiters encourage prospective employees not to mention that they play online games. (I missed it until a kind reader sent this to me.) World of Warcraft seems to be the worst game, but in my typically reactionary and uncritical way, I’m going to expand the problem to all videogames. It seems some employers don’t like gamey employees because the employees are always thinking about the games and not about their work. This seems to be an even bigger distraction than Facebook status updating, Twittering, and other ridiculous distractions so many people seem to have these days.

We know this is reliable, because the small flurry of stories on news sites around the world can all be traced back to an anonymous Australian blogger who reported being told this by a job recruiter. As far as I’m concerned, anything said by anonymous bloggers has a lot of credibility, because those people can speak truth to power without having to worry about a torch-wielding mob of earnest ideologues chasing them through the forest in an attempt to crush dissent from the dominant ideology. And you dissent-hating, torch-wielding ideologues know who you are!

So if it’s true that all these videogames are making people unproductive and less likely to get or keep jobs (and we have reason to think it is), I’m not sure it’s a good idea for libraries to let themselves be revolutionized by the gamey librarians. It used to be librarians wanted to help people become productive citizens. We’d help them learn to read, give them access to newspapers and job hunting tools, and bring them a warm cup of cocoa and give them a pep talk when they weren’t feeling their best. Now we’ve got these gamey librarians trying to drive everyone to distraction and ruin our country. I implore the gamey librarians: Please stop now! Not just for my sake, but for all of us, especially the children.

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Comments

  1. Not reading this blog anymore says:

    I am in charge of the gaming programs at my library, and I still do all of the things in a run of the day that librarians “used” to do, like direct people to resources for research. You can do more than one thing you know?

    Ever since you started writing for LJ, all you’ve done is complain. When you were on your own, you actually called out hypocrisies and inconsistencies in the profession. Now you just scream “get off my lawn!”

  2. Ben says:

    “ampersand” = “&” not “@”

    (sorry… had to point that out)

  3. TK says:

    I’m still not sold about using (video)games in libaries, but I find you’re painting with way too wide a brush in condemning games in general. Without demanding statistics, could you at least explain why you find board games so problematic? Many games are more cerebral than plenty of books available at our libraries.

  4. Elisa says:

    I read somewhere that libraries have done programs of playing games in the library so this isn’t new.

  5. christina(apronstrings) says:

    I am with you. There are waaaayyyyy too many distractions, libraries are one of the last places where quiet happens.

  6. The Professor says:

    We once played a game on the island where the loser of each hand had to take off one item of clothing. Unfortunately, the Skipper lost the most hands. YUCK!

  7. Annoyed Observer says:

    “Ever since you started writing for LJ, all you’ve done is complain. When you were on your own, you actually called out hypocrisies and inconsistencies in the profession. Now you just scream “get off my lawn!” You’ve noticed this too. We seem to be getting the same themes recited over and over. It reminds me some of having to deal with an elderly relative who would say something, forget she’d said it, then repeat herself five minutes later on the same subject. AL, are you turning into the Crazy Cat Lady?

  8. Crazy Cat Lady says:

    No, she isn’t because I AM THE REGIONAL LIBRARY!

  9. Barbara Walters says:

    I once played a game of spin the bottle with Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, and Truman Capote. That was some wild stuff.

  10. Brian Westbrook says:

    There’s only one game that matters – the Super Bowl baby! Nobody can stop the Eagles!

  11. librarydude says:

    Haven’t we already covered gaming in libraries? The only thing worse than a lame post is a recycled lame post. Come on, step it up!

  12. Matt says:

    “This seems to be an even bigger distraction than Facebook status updating, Twittering, and other ridiculous distractions so many people seem to have these days.” Or blogging.

  13. Guybrarian says:

    I’m looking forward to next week’s post on how libraries should be run like businesses.

  14. the.effing.librarian says:

    YAHTZEE! Oh, sorry, yahtzee. Forgot I was in the library.

  15. YAHTZEE! Oh, sorry, yahtzee. Forgot I wa says:

    LOL…you need to call my mom…she’ll play Yahtzee with you!

    Ayup..gaming…ptfui! Trivial Pursuit, does however make one use their cognitive thinking skills just a tad bit bore than Wii! Here’s a new one, for Valentine’s Day our teens will be in the staff kitchen making cookies….so much for my private time break… How sweet!

  16. Raquel Welch says:

    I once played H-O-R-S-E with Wilt Chamberlain. Every time I missed a shot I had to…well you know the story.

  17. Scotty Books says:

    I’m waiting for the first library to offer paintball programs and circulating paintball equipment

  18. Bewildered says:

    I know this isn’t a new comment – but for those of you who complain rather constantly about the themes in this blog – why are you still reading it?

    I don’t understand the mentality behind spending your time on something that you’re just going to complain about.

    Even more fun – those who complain AL complains too much. Priceless. :)

  19. whoever says:

    “I don’t understand the mentality behind spending your time on something that you’re just going to complain about.”

    They’re just venting. What’s the harm?
    I don’t criticize you either, though, for raising the question. Your asking the question is as legitimate as the complainers’ venting, if not more so.

    Be well and be happy, and relax.

  20. Disgruntled Liberrian says:

    The library games I like to play are along the lines of removing the track balls from the computer mice and watching folks trying to get the pointer to move; not telling the new junior administrator everything I know about his project unless he asks me a direct question about that aspect (“Oh, I htought you knew….”); slipping random colored sheets of paper into the photocopier tray every so often; … those sorts of games. Now, if I could only figure out how to fill the boss’s office with ping pong balls!

  21. Ray Allen says:

    Anybody see He Got Game? That was a good movie.

  22. Wink Martindale says:

    The best game show of all time was The Newlywed Game. Discuss.

  23. htmldude says:

    I’d say old school is Truth or Consequences. Modern day is Who Wants to be a Millionaire, with Deal or No Deal a close runner-up.

  24. Jim Rettig says:

    Password with Bert Convey.

  25. Library Cynic says:

    Deal or No Deal is annoying. The Price is Right is the greatest game show ever.

  26. anonymous says:

    Yawn. Most public libraries are supposed to be doing these things if you bother to read their mission statements. They’re publicly funded and what they are supposed to be doing is up to their local boards. It’s why many of them loan things as diverse as scrabble sets, cooking utensils and reading group sets of Danielle Steel novels. In batches of 25. Don’t like it? It’s up to local communities to set polices for local libraries. The annoyed librarian is not so much annoyed as she is supremely arrogant. AL doesn’t really have a clue about public librarianship or what communities want from their libraries. And she is certainly not in a position to arbitrate what the mission of local libraries is or should be.

    But as always, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good rant. Carry on.

  27. Alaska Hottie says:

    I like the Weakest Link.

  28. mean british lady says:

    You are the weakest link! Goodbye!

  29. Blah-blah II says:

    An occasional gaming program – sure. Why not. We need to support gaming companies that employ dozens of programmers that otherwise would come into our libraries for free internet because they have few other marketable skills. Besides it beats Second Life and Facebook. As a regular feature plus a position devoted to it? Moronic. The AL is tied into the public zeigeist on this one more than most of the posters.

  30. Homer says:

    Tic Tac Dough with Wink Martindale was awesome. And Wheel of Fortune is still pretty good.

  31. clear and open mind says:

    I liked the old Match Game show with Richard Dawson. I heard that the celebrities were always drunk.

  32. FreeBird says:

    There was an old game show called Card Sharks that was pretty good.

  33. doggiestyle says:

    Does Love Connection count as a game show. If not, then I vote for Family Feud.

  34. bluegrass gerl says:

    Sale of the Century

  35. krispy kreme says:

    I can’t watch the new Price is Right. Bob Barker was a god, especially since the 70 year old dude was having s*x with all those hot stage girls.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, yes, I do miss the days of “Meet the patrons where they are” (the restroom), and full-scale 2.0 rants, though these have to be responding to something, and no one has done a Manifesto to pick apart lately. Come on, silly twopointopians… give the AL something to work with here. The vogue of “floating collections”? Keeping expensive databases no one uses because they “look good” to someone somewhere? There’s got to be something other than the gamey librarians that’s currently annoying the AL.

  37. writeous says:

    There’s a new Trivial Pursuit game show but it’s kind of lame. I’m pretty much of a Jeopardy purist.

  38. writeous says:

    There’s a new Trivial Pursuit game show but it’s kind of lame. I’m pretty much of a Jeopardy purist.

  39. writeous says:

    Sorry, I don’t know why that posted twice. Weird architecture on this site.

  40. Dead Blog says:

    What happened to this blog?

  41. Annoyed More Often Than Not says:

    Why weren’t pinball machines ever installed in libraries?

  42. librarEwoman says:

    We play pinball on our office computers now so there is no need for machines.

  43. Pink Floyd says:

    Is there anybody out there?

  44. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    The thing about being annoyed its the little things that wont go away that annoy you the most. Web 2.0 is going to die as people get older, but games in the library as the article proves will never go away. I can live with games but should it be the sole focus of young adult librarians? No! It use to be librarians kinda just watch the children play, gave hints, and then cleaned up after. Now though they are actually starting the games and playing them. Thats annoying…especially since most libraries dont let staff read on the clock but its ok to play on the clock. Some thing is wrong here!

  45. Donnie Osmond says:

    $10,000 Pyramid.

  46. Yawn says:

    This is so boring, I’m tempted to go visit John Berry’s blog.

  47. LibrarianDad says:

    Shame on you librarians who cannot recognize sarcasm (I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say it’s satire, but this article is definitely not anti-gaming).

    For those who still need training wheels, I’ll translate:

  48. LibrarianDad says:

    (translation continued from previous post… got cut off)

    “The media is making too big a deal out of the negative impacts of gaming. They’re basing their articles on unreliable resources. It’s all silly nonsense. Game on.”

    You’re welcome. Now, pardon me… I’ve got to go play some MarioKart with the patrons.

  49. anonymous children's programmer says:

    So now we’re bashing all games in libraries, of any sort? One poster said that librarians used to just watch the kids play. Huh? How is that doing your job? Planning a program and running it is doing the job of a children’s librarian. And it can be fun AND have a purpose, too.
    Last year I did a Book Bingo program. It literally was playing a game of Bingo, only instead of B12 or O69 it was authors and book titles that were called out. At the end of the program, one girl said, “I forgot about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory until you called it out. Is there a copy in the library? I think I’d like to read it.” Direct connection between playing a game in the library and taking out materials. Just because it was not a video game, was that any less “gamey”?

  50. McLibrarian says:

    I can’t be the only one who read the headline and noticed the spelling of library?

    It is still library and not libary, correct?

  51. librarydude says:

    I can’t be the only one who read the headline and noticed the spelling of library?

    We all noticed it, just didn’t think it was really worth wasting time to point out a typo.

  52. Library Cynic says:

    My local library did a Book Whino game. Every time a homeless person walks through the door, the staff yells out “WHINO!” The kids love it.

  53. Frogger says:

    I like LINGO.

  54. rcn says:

    Although I’m not a fan of most video, board or related games, I advise everyone to run – don’t walk – to an Apples to Apples game near you. The game would be appropriate for library use wherever excessive laughter is tolerated.

    RCN, San Francisco Bay Area

  55. Puma Librarian says:

    “ampersand” = “&” not “@” (sorry… had to point that out)

    First of all, if you’re going to point out errors, it is only fair (and helpful) to provide the correct term. In this case, it would be “asperand.” (Way more sophisticated than “at sign.”)

    Secondly, I think it is wonderful and appropriate for libraries to introduce patrons to word games like Apples to Apples, Scrabble, Bananagrams, Password, Boggle and such. Very much in line with our mission to nurture literacy.

  56. Digruntledmother says:

    As a mother, I cannot express my frustration more with local libraries taking up gaming. I take my children to the libraries to escape the gaming influence. I considered it a place to focus on more literary or informational pursuits. There was even a Hannah Montana party at our library. Hannah Montana? So, we are encouraging mass consumerism along with video game participation, which as you pointed out is not seen as a productive activity.

    I love the book clubs and the visiting authors, but lets leave the arcade and mass media stuff in the stores.

  57. more teens wanted says:

    If teens don’t get on board with liobraries then libraries die. Maybe they should die. But only of we can find someother logical place to house or provide access to the subscription databases.

    In the future we will not need a “place” for people to go. Many libraries do not have patrons/users who actually show up.

    I think that starbucks or any coffeehouse can provide the quiet sociability of a library.