ALA releases gaming toolkit

Contact: Dale Lipschultz
Literacy Officer
ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services
(312) 280-3275
dlipschultz@ala.org

NEWS
For Immediate Release
March 2, 2009

CHICAGO – Libraries are changing and dynamic places, and no better evidence of that exists than the spread of gaming in the nation's public, school and academic libraries.

In recognition of this trend and the increasing value of gaming to literacy improvement, the American Library Association, with assistance from a $1 million grant from the Verizon Foundation, has developed an online toolkit to aid librarians in serving this growing constituency.

The Librarian’s Guide to Gaming: An Online Toolkit for Building Gaming @ your library offers content contributed by expert gaming librarians across the country. The toolkit includes a wide range of resources to help librarians create, fund and evaluate gaming experiences in the library.

Games, from traditional chess games to authentic board games to popular video games, help libraries fulfill their mission by providing educational, cultural and recreational resources for patrons of all ages.

“Games of every type play an important role in developing fundamental competencies for life,” said ALA President Jim Rettig. “They require players to learn and follow complex sets of rules, make strategic and tactical decisions, and, collaborate with teammates and others, –all things they will have to do in college and in the workforce."

By providing grant dollars to fund the project, Verizon recognizes the growing importance of gaming in promoting literacy.

“We at the Verizon Foundation believe that learning is not only for the hours between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the classroom,” said Albert J. Browne, national program director and vice president of education and technology for the Verizon Foundation. “We believe that libraries can help children learn more and continue to learn even when they are not in a classroom environment.

“We also think gaming in itself is a powerful tool that has an amazing ability to help in learning 21st Century skills,” he added.

Librarians are also recognizing the potential of gaming. On Nov. 15, hundreds of libraries across the country celebrated the ALA’s first annual National Gaming Day @ your library. Libraries of all types joined in the celebration by registering for two national gaming activities: a national video game tournament and board game challenge.

Evidence of the growing influence of gaming on library programming is backed by recently collected data. In 2007, a pilot study was conducted by Dr. Scott Nicholson, University of Syracuse.

Four hundred libraries randomly selected public libraries responded to the survey. The study found that at least seven out of every 10 supported gaming, four out of 10 public libraries run gaming programs, including both board and Web-based games, and more than eight out of 10 libraries allowed patrons to play games on library computers. Nicholson wrote, “Over the last few years, some libraries have been turning to gaming activities like Dance Dance Revolution as a way of bringing in new demographic groups and exposing them to library services.”

For additional information contact: Dale Lipschultz, Literacy Officer, Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, by phone, (312) 280-3275, or e-mail, dlipschultz@ala.org.

You can also click on http://librarygamingtoolkit.org for more information.