Published on April 30th, 2015 | by Carli Spina
Bring Board Games To Your Library: Now What?
In the earlier posts in this series, I have discussed how to purchase and circulate games at your library, but once you have a basic board and tabletop game program in place, you will need to work on outreach to ensure that the games are played and decide on your next steps.
Advertising Your Games
Some libraries opt to include their games in the library catalog, but regardless of whether you decide to adopt this approach, it is best to advertise your games in other ways as well. Be sure to talk up the new games in your normal outreach spots, such as the library’s newsletter, blogs, or social networks. In addition, posters targeted to specific games that are placed around the library, or even better around your community or campus, can entice patrons to stop by to check out this new library offering.
Beyond this, it is also worthwhile to try to identify and target specific communities who may be interested in the games. This could mean teens who come by the library after school or it could mean the local chess playing group. If you are on (or near) a college campus there might be student groups devoted specifically to playing games who might be interested in borrowing the games. Many of these groups will have listservs, so it is well worth researching them and reaching out to the leadership if you want to increase circulation of your game collection.
In addition to offering a place to advertise, local game clubs can be the perfect groups to partner with when organizing gaming events at the library. If you aren’t sure where to find these groups, you can start by seeing whether there are any local gaming groups listed on Meetup.com or other similar services. These groups are often looking for places where they can meet, so a partnership with the library can be advantageous for both sides. Another possibility is to see whether your local adult education programs teach any classes on playing games such as chess, bridge or board games. Offering students from these classes a place to continue to keep up their skills and meet with classmates can help to build a loyal gaming community at your library. Even if you aren’t able to find any local groups to partner with, you can still host events, including one for International Games Day @ Your Library, which is an annual event run by the American Library Association and the Australian Library and Information Association in connection with an organization called Nordic Game Day. Though the event only happens once a year, it can be a great way to bring more attention to your game collection and convince patrons that it is ok to play games in the library.
Once you have your board and tabletop game collection established, you may want to consider branching out to other types of games. This can be as simple as offering curated lists of smartphone games that are recommended for various age groups or interests, or it can mean forming entirely new collections. One popular option is to start a video game collection, which can include either games that circulate or only games for in library use if your library has a video game console. Even more adventurous libraries might want to consider purchasing light sporting equipment that patrons can borrow, particularly if the library is situated close to a park or campus common. This equipment can range from something as small as some frisbees to more elaborate equipment such as portable croquet sets or wiffle balls and bats. Regardless of the exact approach you choose to adopt, board and tabletop games can be the mere tip of the iceberg when it comes to integrating gaming into your libraries activities.