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Published on April 13th, 2015 | by Carli Spina

Bring Board Games To Your Library: Collection Development Tips and Best Practices

Offering board and tabletop games at your library can be a great way to attract patrons who do not typically visit the library or to make your existing patron populations think about the library in new ways. This is true whether you work at a public library or at an academic institution. Games can be selected to tie-in with existing programming or to foster education, but they can also just bring a new type of entertainment to your library. This series of posts will offer tips and best practices for librarians who want to introduce games at their library. First up, we will consider collection development for board and tabletop game collections.

The first step to bringing games to your library is deciding which games you want to purchase. This means deciding whether you want to target your board games to young children, teens, or adults, as this will impact which types of games you select. This decision making process will likely be similar to your other collection development decisions. I recommend thinking about who your patrons already are or who you would like to attract from your community. If you aren’t sure which games will be popular in your area, you can look to see whether there are existing board game groups in the area who might be able to give you advice and might even be interested in meeting at your library if you have the right games available.

Even if you decide that you want to buy a selection of games that will appeal to all ages, you should think at this point about whether there are other factors unique to your library that might influence your selections. For example, perhaps there are games from local game creators or with particular local appeal that you want to showcase. If you plan to offer the games exclusively for in library use (a decision that I will cover in greater detail in the next post in this series), you should also consider whether you have space for the games to be played in your library. Similarly, you should consider whether the games you select will fit in with any noise policies your library might have. I would also recommend either focusing on games that can be played by many different numbers of players or checking to make sure that your collection includes everything from two player games to those intended for larger groups.

As you start to develop your collection, I also recommend polling patrons to see which games are the most requested. This can be part of your normal patron-driven acquisitions process if you already have one, but it can also be a stand-alone activity. For example, if you have a game area of the library, you could post a piece of paper where people can write down the games they would be interested in playing or borrowing or you can post about the new program on the library’s social media accounts to ask for suggestions.

If you aren’t familiar with board and tabletop games, here are some sources of reviews and other information:

  • Boardgaming.com: This website offers reviews of games as well as information such as playing time, the pieces that come with the game, and whether there are any expansions available. It also offers news on tabletop games.
  • Board Game Quest: This site offers reviews of a range of types of games, interviews with game creators, and Top Ten lists about games of various genres.
  • Board Game Geek: This is a source of information about  a wide variety of board games, card games and tabletop games, including the number of players, forums, and links to other media about games.
  • YouTube: You can also find video reviews or playthroughs of games on YouTube.

I hope these tips will help you to start a game collection for your library.


About the Author

Carli Spina is an emerging technologies and research librarian at an academic library. She is a big fan of graphic novels, young adult and children's literature, and popular culture and writes about these topics for several blogs including the Horn Book's Lolly's Classroom blog and YALSA's The Hub blog. You can find her on Twitter as @CarliSpina or on her website at http://carlispina.com



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