Continued Advocacy: Personal Reflections on GLLS 2008

It’s been a week since I was standing in front of the GLLS 2008 attendees talking about videogames and learning.  While it was only about 15 minutes, it was a conversation that I built over the last two years.  In fact, most of my experience at GLLS 2008 was the summation of the last two years.  That culminating event really changed the tone of GLLS for me.  I mentioned during the “Gaming in Libraries” podcast from GLLS that the tone was different from the year before.  This year libraries are finding their stride.  Gaming in libraries is becoming part of library’s plate of services.

During GLLS 2007, everything felt fresh and exciting.  I felt that libraries and games were just peaking over the horizon and trying to stake a claim.  All the work that Jenny Levine did to put gaming and libraries out there, set the tone.  Henry Jenkins and James Paul Gee laid the groundwork for why gaming was culturally and academically valuable.  I know that I was naïve and wide-eyed in 2007, but in my conversations with people at last summer symposium there were many others just starting to seriously look at gaming.  I’m thankful for the many people in academic, school, and public libraries that were pushing gaming forward at that time.  And I’m thankful for everyone who’s joined in that effort over the last year and a half.

I had a chance at GLLS 2008 to talk about most of my projects: 

  • -          Mapping videogames to information literacy standards
  • -          Fantasy Football as information literacy practice
  • -          Applying gaming strategies into classroom instruction

I also had the opportunity to help highlight the work that other librarians are doing in creating games for teaching information literacy.

I am very thankful for the conversations I had with a number of attendees around these ideas and I hope that the ideas helped spark interest or applications.   There is a lot of work to do with gaming in libraries, but based on the work that the attendees are actively planning and already doing there is a lot of good to come out of the work we are already doing. 

My mission and direction out of GLLS 2008 is much different than GLLS 2007.  In 2007, I left feeling charged and justified in the work I was doing.  People were interested and there was excitement around it.  That excitement paid off during last week’s symposium and I’m grateful for the opportunities I had.  Now coming out of 2008, I am again recharged but for a different mission. 

Applying gaming strategies into education is useful as a teaching strategy and I will continue to talk about ways to apply gaming strategies to teaching.  Mapping information literacy skills to commercial off–the-shelf (COTS) games is important to communicating the value of videogames in libraries and information literacy.  I will continue this effort, expand it to include additional games, and work to formalize it in order to create a guide for others. 

The work that Chris Harris and Brian Mayer are doing mapping board games to AASL Standards and NY State Standards is the model for the next step for my work mapping videogames.  Making the argument that COTS games teach and apply information literacy in the blogsphere was the only place I could start.  But I am hopeful that through a variety of partnerships those arguments can be carried out and applied elsewhere.

It’s taken me a couple of days to sift through all the emotions created at GLLS 2008, but I am eager to pick my gaming advocacy flag back up and help move it into the next battlefield.  While that analogy may be more militaristic than it needs to be, it fits.  This conversation over the curriculum applications of video games is already well underway in higher education and education in general.  Other libraries are already engaged in the conversation too.  I am hopeful that collectively we can integrate gaming in the curriculum.

I perceived a tone shift from the excitement and justification during GLLS 2007 to service and sustainability during GLLS 2008.  While this shift has challenged me personally, the shift is good for the long term.   This shift in tone can lead to a shift in application and ultimately integration.  Games are already being argued for and applied within education.  The more libraries join and support that conversation, the more exiting GLLS 2009 will be.