I decided to explore the idea of introducing video game tournaments to public libraries as a participatory program/service. I was inspired by an article I saw in Module 7’s Planning for Participatory Services. I thought that Green (2012) highlighted an interesting innovative program called LibraryGame, which would encourage regular user’s usage of the library in the future as well as introduce new patrons to the library in a fun way. As a gamer myself, I found that the only medium to access video game tournaments were on livestreams or word of mouth since they were so far away. By introducing video game tournaments to public libraries, I intend to bring in an element of inclusion by having libraries be that space where engagement, participation, play, and social networking could occur. 

Morton Grove Public Library’s Teen Librarian, James Facer, stated, “It’s important for our library to include as great a variety of programs as possible to attract patrons from all walks of life and interests.“Our library works to incorporate the interests of the community we serve into our public programming and library services, and we’ve found that video game programs and games in the library are what our patrons want.” (Chicago Tribune, 2019). 

The following outlines a plan to implement a gaming tournament at the Vernon Area Public Library.

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

  1. Gaming tournaments can be a success, and garner a different demographic that we are not normally accustomed to seeing in the library.
  2. The gaming tournament will create opportunity for participation and networking among a underserviced age group. Teens can bond over common interests and can find community over a shared interest such as video gaming.
  3. Gaming tournaments would both build the community and create a great leadership opportunity for teens.Through volunteering, they would be able to collaborate with library staff on the guidelines and create outreach/marketing efforts.

Description of Community you wish to engage:

I wish to engage the teen patrons that are regular patrons of the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire, Illinois and engage the out of district teens.

Action Brief Statement:

The video game tournaments will convince teen users of the Vernon Area Public Library that by attending the video game tournaments at the library, they will contribute to their own teamwork and organizational skills, have increased leadership and involvement opportunities with the library, have a program that reflects their needs and interests, and create new staff and teen connections. We would also like to see an increase of use overall by the teen community and showcase that the library is a welcome space for teens and their interests and needs.

Introduction of video game tournaments will also be showing library administrators and staff that library video game tournaments are a fun new way to get teens, which are an under-serviced community into the library and use it outside of studying and educational purposes. 

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service

A ‘Smash’ hit: Morton Grove library stages Super Smash Bros. tournament. (2019, January 07). Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from

https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/morton-grove/news/ct-mgc-super-smash-bros-tournament-tl-0110-story.html”

Boddie, Catherine. (2014). Gaming in libraries: building relationships between communities & libraries. Colorado State Library. 

Retrieved from https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdelib/teengamingpack 

Ducusin Schweitzer, Anthony Albert. (2016, August 13) Community Love: Hugo , the boy from Chicago by Tones [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://www.couchwarriors.org/community-love-hugo-the-boy-from-chicago-by-tones/

Garrison, Chad. 2010, August 3. Video Game Tournament.at the Library? WTF? River Front Times. Retrieved from 

https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2010/08/03/video-game-tournament-at-the-library-wtf

Tech Soup for Libraries. (n.d.). Gaming in libraries. Retrieved from

http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/planning-for-success/innovation/gaming-in-libraries

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service: (Who might be involved in setting policies? Where might you look for example policies? What do you want to include in guidelines for use?)

When introducing a new tool or service,. Casey and Stephens (2008) state “the new tool or service must fit into the library’s philosophy” (para. 5).

The video game tournament will adhere to VAPLD policies in regard to must remain in line with the library’s mission to “provide users with open access to information and ideas covering a broad spectrum of human thought and experience, and to foster the understanding and development of cultures, communities, and individuals (VAPLD, 2019).

In regards to the  policies and guidelines that will be unique to this program. Vernon Area Public Library’s programming policy states that the events should  support “the library’s mission and expand the visibility and engagement of the library in the community” (VAPLD, 2019).

Additional Guidelines:

1. The tournament will be open to non-residents, and no library card registered with our library or otherwise, was required to participate in the tournament.

2. There is no need for patrons to pre-register or pay for attending the event.

3. Good sportsmanship and gaming etiquette shall be observed. This means that we would disqualify players for usage of trash talking and bad behavior. 

An example policy considered would be the Gaming Tournament Quickstart document from the Chicago Public Library’s teen librarian, Taylor Bayless. She works with YouMedia on gaming tournaments held at the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washingon Library Center. In addition, she wrote up the gameplay/tournament rules with the teen organizers. They also did group meetings with the players on gameplay rules and how to be a respectful and courteous player. This document gives guidelines on what to do to prepare for the event as well as what to do on the actual day of the event. 

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:

There will be a small cash fund of $100 that will act as prize money for the winner of the tournament.

In addition, we would ask to partner with local game shops and if they would like to donate both  video games, controllers, and consoles that the library does not have in its collection.

Outside of donations, according to the Daily Herald’s documentation on the budget proposal of FY2019,  the budget for teen programming is $6,650, which will be from donations from the foundation’s donation of $10,000. (Daily Herald, 2019). This will cover the cost of any consoles of interest that may not be included through the donations and partnerships. Consoles of interest include Nintendo Switch and adjunct joy cons, PS4, XBOX One, XBOX 360, and Wii.

Action Steps & Timeline

I would submit my proposal for the event 4-6 months before the program to the adult services department head because program proposals are done on a quarterly basis. In addition, teen service is associated with the adult services at Vernon Area Public Library. I would then wait for either verbal acceptance or an e-mail confirmation.

If the proposal was not approved, then it would need to be revised to train a small number of librarians, say 1 full-time librarian and a few part-time or half-time staff. 

An initial testing may be required in the format of asking feedback from patrons to gauge interest in the event and the range to which it would be successful in garnering the optimum amount of participation from the community.

Should I be approved, I would then schedule meetings. I would meet with teen services librarian, and the head of volunteer services (who is part of community engagement) to gain teen volunteers. Once we have gotten teen volunteers in part due to the teen services libararian and the head of volunteer services, then we can begin another set of meetings.

This second set of meetings would include the teen services librarian, the youth services staff in charge of purchasing video games, and the teen volunteers. We would sit down to write ideas for the guidelines and outreach efforts. 

The teens and the librarians would work together on guidelines. The librarians will make sure it aligns with the library policy on general behavior.

I would also reach out to local game shops to gain a partnership should they be interested.

Gameshop would also provided staff to supervise to help set up, run the program, and supervise patrons and as they play and brought prizes.  The library had to provide extra screens and TVs for the consoles to be hooked up to.

Outreach efforts would be made through word of mouth, newsletter (both online and physical copy), website, and the library’s official social media accounts ( FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter). Teens would be in charge of spreading the word further by using their own personal accounts to reach out to their friends and create a word of mouth effect by inviting them. 

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service

Library staffing required for this event would primarily be the teen services librarian, the youth services librarian who is in charge of purchasing video game titles, and myself. They will help coordinate obtaining the gaming supplies we need as well as help coordinate with the teen volunteers working on the preparations for the event as well as working the day of the event on video game set up and assistance with the players. 

However, on the actual day of the event, the library staffing would be the full-time teen services librarian and the half-time library associate which would be me. With these reduced hours, it would create opportunity for the teen volunteers to gain more leadership opportunities and get involved. They would be able to attend the staff training in-service, weekly follow up meetings to help clarify  any questions or concerns regarding the event.

Training for this Technology or Service:  

I would work with the youth services librarian in charge of purchasing video game titles, the teen services librarian, and the teen volunteers on . I would work with the youth services librarian in charge of purchasing video games, the teen services librarian and the teens to work on training for staff to be prepared on the day of the event should there be any questions or need for assistance should we be preoccupied with assisting other players and event goers at the time. 

Training on gaming best practices, behavior rules, downloading game accessories, setting up the games and the tv, as well as troubleshooting are the topics included in training. 

The training will take place during our morning staff inservice days on Fridays from 9 am to 1 pm. This training will only be an hour in between the presentations and it will allow for any questions or concerns staff not heavily involved with the event shall have on how to guide the players to their destination and if they need help. It is always good to have all staff aware of the rules and set up even if they are not primarily involved. 

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service

Step one would be to promote the event on the library’s official social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition, having the teen volunteers promote the event on their personal social media accounts to their friends and family could get the word faster among the target age group.

Step two would be creation of  in-house posters and posters to be sent off at off-site locations.

Step three would be to promote the event in the newsletter both the online version as well as the physical copy that is on display at the library as free hand-outs and to be mailed to the homes of the patrons. 

Step  four would to post signage at the Youth Services Desk, Circulation Desk, Adult Reference Desk, and besides the doors to the library lobby.

Another way would be to promote the library event through word of mouth. In addition to promoting the event at the service desks during patron-staff transactions, it’s also good to promote awareness of the event among customer service staff members so that they can best direct patrons to the reference desk for more information about the event. 

One final suggestion which may seem strange is to promote by having Twitch livestreams or on YouTube. 

Among gamers, twitch and YouTube are wonderful venues that gamers use to 1. Gain new knowledge about new games coming out and 2. Gain information on where the next big gaming event is. 

Evaluation

The success of the video game tournament will be measured by keeping a record of the number of attendees, how enthusiastic the players are during the event, and the information about ages of players. 

Because of the community nature of the event, it would allow me to gain feedback from players about what they liked and didn’t like for the event. In addition, we would ask them for any changes they would like to see for future tournaments. The players would usually share this info with our teen tournament organizers and then they would incorporate the changes into future tournaments.

I would also use the reviews and information gleaned from newspapers, e-mails, website reviews for the event, and gamer blog posts to see what else I could do to improve upon the service. 

I would like to expand the service to include all ages, continue offering a diverse range of games and consoles, partner up with video game tournament organizers, and have input and participation of  the attendees on the formation of guidelines and outreach efforts in

 References

Bayless, Taylor. (n.d.). Gaming Tournament Quickstart! Chicago Public Library. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1m9JOmzXblhl-p8hFyW-vOLbga8BMOIrdEwdUeqpXIBo/edit

Casey, M. E. & Stephens, M. (2008). Measuring progress. Retrieved from https://tametheweb.com/2008/04/15/measuring-progress/

Daily Herald. (n.d.). Vernon Area Public Library District Budget Proposal FY2019 [PDF File]. Retrieved from 

https://www.dailyherald.com/assets/PDF/DA148769518.pdf..

 Green, G. (2012). The Innovative use of technologies in libraries. Retrieved from https://uklibchat.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/feature-01-innovative-use-of-technology-in-libraries/

Vernon Area Public Library (2011). Mission Statement: Retrieved from

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cuJ8ssDZd4sJH8Iv3qmMK4SyjDKGyk1zuot-dGx1BgI/edit

Vernon Area Public Library (2019). Programming Policy. Retrieved from

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KKBbx4JcHMvzltYPOFdyFT1xbDIxRzL5mF-pXrREWmc/edit

10 Comments on Emerging Technology Planning Assignment: Introducing Video Game Tournaments to Vernon Area Public Library

  1. Hi Tiffany, great plan for getting teens from the community involved and into the library! I’ve spoken with library staff in my local library in West Hollywood, and they say that teens utilize this branch the least. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a common fact in many public library branches. It’s a smart idea to include prize money for the winner, because sometimes the event may not be enough of a reason for teens to get into the library, but I think the possibility of earning a prize can serve as the nudge of motivation needed to get involved.

    • Hi Esther,

      Thank you so much for commenting!

      I’m sorry to hear that your local library’s branch isn’t as well used by teens. Teens show alot of potential and I’ve heard from my home library’s teen services librarian that they’re often overlooked. I often see teens come to hang out, eat and drink, chat and work on school work. But I also would like to see what else we can do for them.

      Do you have any recommendations as to what your local library could do?

      I remembered that putting prize money was a good idea because of the advice I received from other librarians and my brother’s experience with these tournaments. One of his friends won the prize, which was to fly over to Japan to compete. It’s quite stunning!

      I completely agree that prize money is a great incentive! I at first didn’t think libraries were allowed to do that but it’s clear that it’s being utilized and it’s a great way to get the teens excited about participating. If there’s anything we can do at all to get them excited, then I think it’s good for libraries to look at all options.

  2. This is such a fun and interesting way to involve current users and new users. I love it! I especially liked that the event would be inclusive by allowing gamers from out of the area, or those who do not hold a library card, to participate. Inclusiveness is precisely what Library 2.0 is all about.

    • Hi Christine,

      Thank you so much for commenting!

      I really wish I had my aha moment with this idea sooner because I always notice how popular video games are with the patrons at my library and I figured it would be nice to allow all patrons to play and enjoy them. I really wanted to make sure people would be able to have access. Sometimes there are events I’ve seen where they are only restricted to resident card holders and I felt that perhaps it would be even more fun if we didn’t have anything barring access.

      I had read that someone from Australia came to an event a US library held and that was incredibly inspiring to me. I completely agree! I think making sure our library programs and services are inclusive is incredibly important and that’s what makes libraries become more and more progressive and diverse.

  3. I really love this idea too! I have thought about it myself but your action plan makes it seem more doable. We recently remodeled our library and it has two giant screens, it would be a prefect space. I am going to raise the idea with our teen services volunteer, because I am definitely not an expert in this area!

    • Hi Cristin,

      I’m really interested in your library remodeling. What was the inspiration and what did the patrons ask for? Personally I love the fact that you have two giant screens. It’s honestly perfect for video game tournaments. I’m hopeful that your library begins video game tournaments as well because I can definitely see it.

  4. Het Tiffany,

    Great job with your program proposal!

    It’s not surprising at all to hear about the success of video game tournaments. There have been video game tournaments at the public library I work at and they have been very popular. In fact, they are among the most well-attended programs geared towards teens. This is significant because, typically, it is challenging to attract teens to the library. Here is a link to the last one that was hosted at my library: https://www.ssf.net/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/15865/635?curm=8&cury=2019

    Another thing that is cool is that select branches in the library system I work for offer video game rentals.

    Bobby

    • Hey Bobby,

      Thank you so much for commenting!

      I was both nervous and excited to see how this proposal would work out. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I feel bad but it’s only recently that I even knew about video game tournaments at libraries. I guess I was so used to having to stream them since they were always held in faraway places that I never thought that local libraries were trying to do the same thing.

      It’s a great idea indeed. I’m glad that they are a hit with your patrons as well. How long have you been doing them for?

      I know, personally, that it’s hard to bring teens to the library. I remember not really going to my home library as much particularly around the time I entered high school and went to college. I’m really not even sure why but I’m sure my reasons back then were similar to what teens today think about the library. Both my brother and I are huge video game fans ourselves so it’s great to see libraries welcome the gamers because not only is it a great segway to introduce the library to resident patrons but if you open them to all of the people who enter the library. You get the library wonderful recognition with reciprocal borrowers.

      I’m super curious to learn. Thanks for sharing the details to the most recent one.

      I love that your library system allows for video game rentals. Are video game consoles also rentable?

      I would love to know if they do because so far, I haven’t seen any evidence of libraries doing that.

      • You’re welcome!

        I agree that video game tournaments can be a great way to introduce teens (and others) to a library. As a teen, I didn’t really go to to libraries either…My library has hosted video game tournaments for at least a few years now. We also host board game meet ups too.

        My library system doesn’t offer console rentals, but that is not a bad idea though! More opprtunites to attract people to the library!

        Bobby

        • Hi Bobby,

          I kind of wish we had the idea of these 10-15 years ago. I know that there is more diversity in terms of video game offerings currently but it’s always good to have a starting place.

          I’m a big fan of board games and card games myself so I’m happy to know that your library is doing board game meet ups. We title ours games for grown ups but I would like to see them make it available for all ages.

          I always thought that would be a great idea myself! I’m glad to get your feedback on that idea. I’ve asked a few librarians myself on that idea but they don’t seem to think it’s a good idea due to concerns of security. But, I think the patrons would definitely appreciate the opportunity since consoles are not cheap these days.

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