After attending the CSLA Conference in my first year as a librarian, where I attended a session about gaming in the library, I started offering educational and strategy games at lunch in our library. This was a great way to get kids to come into the library who maybe wouldn't otherwise, and a way to keep them out of trouble in the quad. Who knows, perhaps they will even check out a book, or at least associate positive thoughts with the library. I liked the busy lunches with big crowds, and everyone seemed to be having fun.
The second year we were open, we went from having 2 grades at lunch to three. Now the volume had potential to get a little too loud. I could see that some of the kids who were actually there to study or read were losing the quiet place they expected a library to be. I spent a lot of my time telling groups to quiet down or get out.
This is our third year as a school, with finally all 4 grades. It is our first year with two lunches. So now I am back to only two grades per lunch, but I now have to go through this twice a day with only 20 minutes reprieve in between. It has really been wearing on me. So it didn't take long for me to make a goal this year to get the environment back to what people expect a library to be. I put the games in a cabinet instead of out on the circulation desk counter, so that only those in the know about the games would ask to play with one. I would remind students when they asked to borrow a game that they needed to whisper and maintain the quiet library environment since students were studying or reading. I would continue to go around to the groups and ask them to be quiet, and those who were too disruptive were asked to leave. I would explain to all the students what my goal was, and that this volume would not be acceptable at a public library or a college library.
Last week, I decided that I shouldn't have to tell the same kids every day to be quiet. Obviously, they just weren't learning or getting it. Had they been able to whisper while playing, I wouldn't have a problem. But that was not the case. They seem to think that a regular voice was whispering, and that outbursts were ok. So, I decided that I would no longer offer games. It was amazing how after 2 days, the environment was already much better. I also had a poster project for my Library Science students, for which they made a sign that would hang from the ceiling, with "Shh...Entering the Quiet Zone" on the front side, and then "Whisper" on the back to remind those already in the library.
I am happy that the library is now a better place to go for those who need to study and read, and that the students are being properly trained in library etiquette. But, I am a little sad that there are less students coming through those doors than before, and that maybe some of those kids feel rejected now.
So this begs the question: Should a high school library be a place of fun and games, literally, or a place with no games and a studying environment?
Please comment. I did have one friend suggest that I make one day a week, perhaps Friday, an official gaming day to get those kids in at least once a week. What do you think?
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
After quite the learning curve, I have learned how to create an audio file, aka, a Podcast. This new skill will help me share book talks about my latest reads with my patrons at the Independence HS Library. Here is my first Podcast about We Were Here, by Matt de la Pena, and Unwind, by Neal Shusterman...take a listen!!
book talk podcast--take 2.mp3
book talk podcast--take 2.mp3