in yesterday's Daily News Journal caught my eye--it's about how the Linebaugh Library system is adding gaming consoles in an attempt to make the libraries social hubs for the community. I had heard rumblings about this plan before the article came out and I have to admit I'm all for anything that will help bring people--especially kids and young adults--to the library and help them kindle the passion for reading.
But call me a curmudgeon, but I don't exactly think adding video-games is the way to go about it.
Maybe I'm like all the nay-sayers who said adding Internet access to library branches would be a bad thing. But I really can't see how bringing in kids for a couple of quick games of Mario Kart is going to create any kind of new passion for reading. Seems to me they'll just pass up the shelves of books for the video game, play a couple of games and then head out again.
The article says the library wants to become a "social hub" of sorts. At this point, I have to wonder at what point they'll put in a coffee shop, complete with all the goodies you find at most bookstores these days.
"The modern library is really about more than just books," said Melissa Hiers, circulation clerk at Smyrna Library and co-writer of the grant that garnered the gaming systems. "We bring culture to the community, and video games are part of that culture."
And there's this.
For several years, a variety of other mediums for information have been offered, from video rentals and audiobooks to offering Internet access, Lee noted.
"One thing about the library is that we're an information center. It's our responsibility to provide knowledge," Lee said.Gaming just seemed like a natural evolution of technology offerings at the library, and gaming is also a way to attract a younger crowd to the library, Lee said.
At a time when I see constant signs about how the library can't afford as many copies of new books as it did before due to budget cuts, I wonder if installing video-game systems is really the best use of resources. Part of my irritation comes in because, long ago, I signed up for a monthly newsletter, highlighting new science-fiction offerings. The newsletter is one that's national, but sent to my e-mail address with the Linebaugh Library system name and logo in it. But for the past few months, I've seen no less than two or three books on the list that sounded really interesting and that I would enjoy reading. Clicking on the button to reserve the book, I'm taken to the library catalog only to find out--ha, ha we don't have this book and apparently we have no plans to get it.
It's a cruel, cruel tease to those of us who enjoy using the library for its original purpose--checking out and reading good books.
I know that these are a niche offering and that it may not be the best use of library funds to pick up a book that only I and a few others might want to read. But if that's the case, then don't send out the newsletter each month. Or maybe you spend a few of those dollars on those new fangled video-game systems for some of these books. I have a strange feeling those are going to get a lot more wear and tear on them than the books will.
I'm sure I sound backward thinking and like that old guy who is yelling at those young whippersnappers to "get off my lawn." And it's not that I don't want to see more young people reading (and please, read something besides "Twilight." I can't tell you how often my heart breaks when I hear about kids who have read these books eighteen times each. There are sooooo many other GOOD books out there you could at least try). But I guess I don't see much point to the library having video game systems.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/09/2009 04:30:00 PM