Defending Video Games in the Library: My Letter to the Editor

After the local coverage of a video game tournament at my local public library, there were two negative letters to the editor criticizing the library for providing video games for kids. Granted, they've held gaming events before but they've never been covered by the local newspaper. Given the beating the librarians and the library were taking locally, I wanted to defend their program and gaming in libraries in general. Below is my letter to the editor:

In the January 12th and 13th editions of the TH, both Mr. Doughty and Ms. Patterson “shamed” the Dubuque Public Library for their recent video game event. As a parent of two young children and frequent user of the children’s library, I am excited by library’s efforts with video games.

Gaming events like the one the library held not only create a safe community environment; they also help youth develop an interest in the library and a connection with the staff. Events like these break down barriers for young people who may not see the library as inviting or relevant for them. While those attending the event may not immediately check out something, they are now more aware of the books, movies, games, comics, and music the library has to offer. In time and in need, they will use the library.

The library is not an “arcade” as Mr. Doughty suggested, nor is it a movie theater even though the library shows movies and checks them out. A library is a place of information for a community, whatever form that information takes.

There is research showing that video games are connected to learning by helping youth develop literacy, social communication, and critical thinking skills. I’m thankful the library’s taking part in helping build these skills in our community and I’m looking forward to bringing my child to the next gaming night.

2 comments:

susanannhenricks said...

Thank you so much for your support and your understanding. I told the Library Board at our recent meeting that our problem was not that we had the tournament, but that we didn't recognize the need to educate the community as to what gaming is all about and how it is part of the library's role. Ironically, within two days of the letters to the editor the American Library Association announced that they were awarded a $1 million grant -- half to be used toward Adult Literacy and the other half to gaming in libraries! Wow

Susan Henricks, Library Director

Paul said...

Susan,
Yes having local letters to the editors run against the gaming events while librarians were gathered at mid-winter talking about and playing games made for an interesting juxtaposition.

I'm sorry that my response didn't run sooner in the paper. If there's anything do or info I can provide to help support you guys please let me know.

Thank you for the feedback and thank you for reaching out with gaming in Dubuque.