Games and libraries: Campaspe Regional Libraries

Today’s post comes from our Australian Country Ambassador, Jenny Mustey. Campaspe Regional Library is in northern Victoria and serves a regional population of over 35,000 spread across more than 4,500 square kilometres.

Just recently I attended a conference and many of the sessions that were enthusiastically presented were about games and gaming and their place in a public library setting. Inspiring examples of how games have been introduced to attract children, teens, families and older people. Games in fact promote the inter-generational mix of all of these groups and quite often we will see young and old people interacting through games, whether they are board or electronic it doesn’t really matter. What is happening is fantastic and naturally generated interaction.

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Games have been introduced as an everyday activity within our libraries, right from the puzzles in the children’s area, the community jigsaw in the lounge area, the board games for loan and the games available via the PlayStation units or people accessing them via public computers and Wi-Fi.

As well as these more subtle inclusion of games we also have regular weekly sessions of cards, chess, scrabble and Lego. Our holiday program includes pizza and games nights for teens and these are always popular. Board games are available right throughout the holidays for people to play within the library; so many families have discovered the simple pleasure of playing the more traditional board game together.

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This year we also celebrated International Games Day which was coordinated by ALA and ALIA – a fun morning with lots of activity. We also participate in Free Comic Book Day in May which provides another opportunity to include games as part of this celebration.

Games are a great leveller and can be very inclusive programs encouraging all children to participate. We will be looking at introducing a Minecraft club in the near future which will initially be aimed at teens with ASD as part of our Being Connected: Libraries and Autism project. This suggestion has come from carers and parents of children on the spectrum who have mentioned that Minecraft lends itself to be an inclusive activity and their children absolutely love it. We have seen it introduced into many libraries already with great success.

When our library service attends community festivals, apart from having a range of books available, games are the easiest thing to offer. They provide a bit of fun and the opportunity to promote other library services at the same time.

Games, whether they are the most high tech or the most basic play a vital role in the library setting, by bringing people together – sharing, conversing, learning, interacting and most of all having fun.

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