Game Lab to explore the intersection of gaming and libraries

Contacts: Jenny Levine



Scott Nicholson

MSLIS Program Director

School of Information Studies

Syracuse University


For Immediate Release

May 8, 2007

Game Lab to explore the intersection of gaming and libraries

(CHICAGO) The music pounds and the sweaty teenagers stomp their feet in rhythm while another pair swing their guitars in the air. No, this isn't a rave; it's the local library. Libraries are bringing in teenagers through gaming programs who haven't visited since their parents brought them to story time, and many are being exposed to other library services in the process.

Researchers from the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, the American Library Association (ALA), and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, are working together to research games in libraries through a project called Game Lab. Researchers will tackle the development of a classification structure for games and determine the public good served by the library that provides gaming programs.

"One role of many libraries is to serve as a community center where people can meet and enjoy activities together," said Jenny Levine, Internet development specialist, ALA ITTS. "Games are quickly being integrated into library services as an activity for groups of users who may visit the library for traditional services."

Game Lab researchers are working to secure funding to build a research laboratory at the Information Institute of Syracuse, where they will explore new program ideas and replicate gaming programs currently available in libraries. Researchers also will explore the effectiveness of different types of gaming activities - not only video games, but also physical face-to-face games like board and card games - with different socioeconomic and age groups. The results will be disseminated to libraries as a guide to selecting gaming activities for a particular demographic profile and program goal.

As the Game Lab project grows, Director Scott Nicholson hopes that the project will attract other researchers. "The advantage to having a common place to gather, both physically and virtually, is that it allows us as a group of researchers to explore gaming in libraries more effectively than if we were all working individually, said Nicholson. "Our connection with the profession through the ALA will allow us to focus on the most important issues with the scholarly rigor that good science demands."

Other Game Lab researchers include Ian MacInnes, associate professor and R. David Lankes, director of the Information Institute of Syracuse and Associate Professor, both from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University and David Dubin research associate professor, from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. In addition, Jenny Levine, Internet development specialist, ALA ITTS, and George Needham, vice president of Member Services at OCLC, will bridge the research with the practice of librarianship.

For more information on the Game Lab project, see the Game Lab site at, or contact Scott Nicholson at 315-443-1640 or