Events & Exhibits - Fall 2010

Library Gaming A Lot of Fun

Library gaming might seem like an oxymoron to some people, but here at the Weinberg Memorial Library we think the two make a perfect match. It shouldn't be a surprise to hear that libraries have evolved quite a bit over time and librarians have been quick to roll with the punches.
The traditional view of the solitary book repository has been shifting somewhat toward a technology, information and education superstore. There are certainly arguments on both sides as to what a library should be, and I have sympathy toward both traditional and "evolved" libraries, but for right now let's just say the Weinberg Memorial Library is doing it all.
Bonnie Oldham, coordinator of information literacy, after doing some research on the successes of other libraries' gaming events, pitched the idea for a gaming night to her colleagues. Librarians interested in participating agreed that the library was a good place to host an event like this and it was worth a test run. The rationale behind having gaming in the library includes: the library was a safe place for students to interact, we wanted to reward our students for being good scholars, but we also wanted to attract students who might otherwise be turned off by the library - we knew that once these students came into the building and got to know the place a little better that they too would find a home here.
In conjunction with the Center for Health and Education Wellness (CHEW), the library sponsored its first gaming night on Feb. 16, 2010, called "Mardi Gras at the Library." The event was planned with 20-30 student attendees in mind. The library had three Nintendo Wii gaming consoles on hand, one borrowed from CHEW and the other from the Byron Recreation Complex. Games played were Wii Fit, Wii Sports, and one group of students brought their own game, Super Smash Bros. Those who weren't so interested in playing video games stayed involved in other ways. Some students played board games, some came to sit and talk with friends or make new ones, and a few watched other people play games. Those who were there early enough got to enjoy pizza, wings, chips, candy and soda. There was also a raffle for three $10 Amazon gift cards that garnered 68 unique entries, so we know that we more than doubled our expected attendance.
The first gaming night was undoubtedly a huge success and far surpassed our expectations. Immediately after the conclusion of "Mardi Gras at the Library," the librarians knew it would be a good idea to do this again and we soon began planning for a new and improved gaming night for the spring semester.
"Wii Want you @ the Library," our second planned gaming event, was held on April 12, 2010, from 8 to 11 p.m. This time we decided that we would stagger our pizza, wings and soda deliveries so that there would be enough for everyone throughout the night. Well, at least we tried to feed everyone. This time around we had even more students show up and the food went shortly after catering laid it out. However, the point of the evening wasn't food, it was about gaming and being sociable. This time we had three Wii consoles and one TV which switched back and forth between Sega Genesis and the original Nintendo console; these "ancient" systems were actually a big hit with a lot of students. As per student suggestions from the Mardi Gras event, the two feature games were Rock Band and Super Mario Kart. Both of these games were played non-stop throughout the night.
Comment and suggestion sheets were available for students to leave us feedback for both events. There were an overwhelming number of student comments, none of which were negative. Some of the comments included: "Overall a lot of fun ...," "This is so great after a stressful day!" "I love the library," and "Everyone looks like they're having so much fun." Both times we asked if we should have another game night, and both times the answers tallied were unanimous, everyone wants more game nights.
Since we appreciate our students so much, and because they asked nicely, we are happy to oblige. The library will be holding another game night come this fall in the library's newly renovated 24-hour space. As a way to honor the new 24-hour space properly, we are going to make this gaming event a "Late Night at Scranton" event, meaning we will start at 10 p.m. and go until 2 a.m. We will be sure to come prepared with significant amounts of pizza, wings, soda, candy and prizes. We will also have at least three gaming systems with the library's newly purchased Wii systems, which will have Rock Band, Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario Kart going simultaneously. We expect that this event will be a huge success. If we consistently get large numbers of enthusiastic students, then we will continue to host a gaming night event once per semester.
George Aulisio
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition