Families come for the games and leave with books.
NPR published an article this past weekend which contends that public libraries in the US are using video games to promote reading. This initiative is distinct from the 15-20% of libraries that actually lend games, rather video games and systems are set-up in the libraries for use by card-holding patrons and their families. The conclusion is that by drawing teens and kids into the libraries to play games, those same young people are exposed to various attractive books within the library.
One example is from the Houston Public Library, which is not an organization flush with funds. "Sandy Farmer is the manager of Central Youth Services for the Houston Public Library, which has four Nintendo Wiis, four Xboxes, several Nintendo DSs, some iPads, seven PlayStations and a few big-screen TVs.
"'It's a primary part of our service that we offer, and it results in a 15- to 20-percent increase in the circulation of books,' Farmer says.
"In other words, more video games in the library means more books getting checked out.
"'The kids and the teens spend more time here,' Farmer says. 'Families come — their parents have things to do on the computers, because a lot of the families don't have computer access at home, so the kids have some things to do and while they're here. They find out, 'There's Superman. I can read Superman.' "
The NPR article goes on to examine how reading within video games helps to promote and strengthen reading comprehension. At the same time though, games chosen for the library are not based on their text content. The sole criteria seems to be ensuring that the games are not rated Mature, a rating that mimics the MPAA's R rating and suggests that the player be over seventeen years old.
As libraries tend to fly under the radar of the typical 24 hour news cycle, it should be interesting to see if the NPR report and conclusions are picked up and result in either and increase or decrease for video games in US libraries.
"I have a room full of teenage boys that are happy, and the library is the coolest place they know," states Sandy Farmer. "And video games are a part of that."
Source: NPR via Polygon
Author: Brian Hoss