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Any Nebraskans? - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Any Nebraskans?
Okay, so, weird story from Library-land.

For those who don't know, the hot thing in libraries is adding video games to the collection and programming. (No, really.) The Guitar Hero/DDR/Rock Band sort of thing is the most wanted. So a library in Nebraska got a console, and some librarians took the time to learn to put it together and play the games. Maybe a couple of hours. They filmed this and put it up on YouTube, played at comical high speed. (I use the word "comical" loosely, as the video itself=not very well done, but that's not the point.) It becomes a marketing tool to say, "Hey, look, we have a game console that we're going to do programs with."

Now, this may or may not be a good thing. I'm generally pretty agnostic on gaming in libraries, as long as they don't interfere with more important things (and I get very annoyed with attempts to paint them as anything more than one more form of entertainment, to go with trashy novels and DVDs, but also, not the point). Whatever. I can see arguments on both sides. But upon seeing this video, a state lawmaker decided that it was such a waste of money that he was going to audit the system. (Link courtesy of the Annoyed Librarian.)

Which will cost a whole lot more than a game console and a couple of hours of staff time. And since the purchase would have already had to be approved, it's, um, weird. Let's save money by wasting a whole lot of it on auditing a system for putting up a YouTube video.


Any Nebraskans who want to address this? (Or anyone else. I'm up for debating gaming in libraries, too, if you want.)
25 comments or Leave a comment
From: severely_lupine Date: March 14th, 2009 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Huh. Next they'll be letting people borrow books from arcades.

I'm not a Nebraskan, but I think I'd be with you on this one.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2009 03:25 am (UTC) (Link)
It's just very weird. I'm not going to come to a huge, spirited defense of DDR at the library, though I will say that it's brought in crowds. But a full-scale audit of something that is, whether one likes it or not, a common practice in the field, meant to increase use of a service?

Strikes me as off the wall.
From: severely_lupine Date: March 14th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)
This is one of those instances where I just want to shake my head and asked, "Don't we have bigger things to worry about?"
ashtur From: ashtur Date: March 14th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I saw a report on this in the hometown newspaper a week or so ago. (Grew up in Lincoln, don't live there any more of course).

Near as I can figure, more than anything, it's grandstanding. Politicans being stupid and all that. Easier to pick on something stupid like that than real issues.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2009 03:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that sounds just about right.
reihla From: reihla Date: March 14th, 2009 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually work for the State Department of Libraries here in Oklahoma - specifically the law library in the basement of our state capitol. Much of our collection doesn't get public use, so we tend to fly under the radar. I don't think adding games to our collection would go over well - though it might make my director laugh if I suggest it. The legislators from upstairs often wander down and critique our very small recreational reading paperback collection (one even suggested it wasn't an appropriate use of our financial resources... being as we are a law and legislative reference library). Sigh...

I will say, though, that one of our youth outreach librarians (over at our main location across the street) has often brought guitar hero on Fridays so the staff can amuse themselves. She, too, was intrigued with the trend towards adding games to public library collections. I don't really see a problem with it. It keeps the kids off the streets... and who knows... maybe a few of them will actually pick up books while they are there...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2009 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, games would definitely be out of place in a law library. :) But paperbacks? Eh, people trying to wade through case law could use a breather now and then.
hippie1025 From: hippie1025 Date: March 14th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually worked at a law library several years ago. There was a small "recreational" reading section (mostly things like The Firm) but I picked up one very interesting book there (the only thing I ever checked out in my whole time there): Habeas Codfish by Barry Levenson. Fascinating popular writing on food and trademark law.
alkari From: alkari Date: March 15th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
And I'd hope they'd have A P Herbert's "Uncommon Law" which is a true classic - BBC made it into "Misleading Cases" many years ago, and they were hilarious.
reihla From: reihla Date: March 16th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was our director's take on it too... so we still have two excursions per year to Borders to buy the latest releases. :) In fact, in a really slick thumb-your-nose gesture she added a bunch of audio books to the racks. They've been really popular with the legislators who drive in from other parts of the state. Heh, we're such rebels. :P
(Deleted comment)
reihla From: reihla Date: March 16th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yep, those authors are very popular here. :) I've been pushing for DVDs (especially seasons of 24... of course, there is no personal interest there at all ;)... somehow, I suspect I won't win.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 14th, 2009 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I was just reading about another politician posting a blog about all the ways he thought money was wasted. One of his complaints was about money spent to control the Mormon Cricket.

So, obviously, he doesn't know that, left uncontrolled, these bugs descend like a black cloud of locust and can destroy farm after farm, not to mention wilderness areas.

Oh, and a lot of them live on public lands. So, either the government pays to help control them or other people spend maybe five years filling out forms trying to get permission to do it.

There were federal cuts on these programs a few years ago and the results were pretty ugly.

But, hey, the blogger got to complain and point out the mote in others' eyes.

Maybe the Nebraskan auditor is his clone?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, goofy stuff like that's an eye-roller. I remember people complaining about spending on shellfish research... in states where shellfish are a major industry and things that improve their health and productivity are, you know... kind of important.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 15th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Yup. I remember going, "Heh?" I could see a lot of sense in some of it, but foodstuff and industry research???
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: March 14th, 2009 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm a Nebraskan.

Interestingly, I was taking a masters-level Library Science class wherein we discussed ways of getting kids into libraries, and having Game Nights was put forward as an effective strategy... so I kind of want to think that that's how it started.

Frankly, I think these librarians should have just made more effort to explain themselves. The reason is obvious to me: it brings kids in, and helps them get comfortable with libraries. But most people would never work that out for themselves, unfortunately.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
From the article, it didn't look like they were given much of a chance to explain themselves.

How do you think this sort of thing will play in the public?
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: March 15th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Most of the state appears to have forgotten all about it, but I imagine that the library involved is gonna have to lobby hard if they want to keep their video games. I doubt that, unless I go looking, I'll ever hear any follow-up to this.
From: blue_sky_day Date: March 16th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Getting kids into the library building is one thing. Getting them to read is another. The first is only a means to an end.
tartanshell From: tartanshell Date: March 14th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm a Nebraskan, and I think the audit is ridiculous. I mean, regardless of what he thinks of the program and YouTube video, the expense of auditing just isn't logical, if the issue at hand is wasting money.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that was my thought. Heh? Whatever you think of gaming in libraries, it's still WTF.
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: March 14th, 2009 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
We started doing 'Wii Teen game day' (I know...we really need to work on the name there) on Tuesdays, our slowest days and last I checked our stats have jumped 16% on circulation on those days. We're trying fit it in on a weekend day sometime to see how well it would go over. Our base patronage is mostly elderly and middle aged runners (we're located right next to a golf course) and there aren't any schools near by for kids to come by for our after school programs.

Eh...the way I see it is it's tax payers money and it's being used for a service that is being used for the public. Now if the wii was located in the staff break room then there would be a problem but seriously...and audit? Please.
keestone From: keestone Date: March 14th, 2009 11:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm still waiting for the related headline: "Politician admits to trolling youtube during work hours."
(Deleted comment)
hippie1025 From: hippie1025 Date: March 15th, 2009 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
And we all know what dancing leads to... ;)
alkari From: alkari Date: March 15th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm generally pretty agnostic on gaming in libraries, as long as they don't interfere with more important things (and I get very annoyed with attempts to paint them as anything more than one more form of entertainment

It seems to me that a clever teacher (and library) might actually be able to use some games in teaching, especially where they originate with books, comics or movies ... play the game, see the movie (the DVD collection) and read the book. And discuss the differences, and the reasons for changing certain things. Moving from games into reading some fantasy, sci fi, etc might be one way of getting the kids to actually pick up books and read them. They might even find that they like reading! (shock, horror)

manicwriter1271 From: manicwriter1271 Date: March 17th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm working on my masters degree in library science, and we've been debating this topic in my Foundations class. I was surprised to learn that many libraries are promoting gaming and providing gaming consoles, and I wasn't sure about it at first. I'm weird about video games and not looking forward to the day my boys discover them. But one of my classmates has a 15-year-old son, and she pointed out all the educational aspects of video games, said that her son has actually learned something from playing--not Grand Theft Auto type games but some of the educational games. I think it could be a great way to get teenagers in the library if the library provides educational games, but I think the games should be limited to those of educational value. Of course this also comes down to the old debate of, Does the library provide strictly what the patrons want, does it provide what is good for them, or a combination of both? I lean towards a combination of both.

I'm not from Nebraska and don't know much about the state budget, but given the fact that library funding is getting drastically cut right now and we have hiring freezes here (which I hope will be lifted within the next three years before I finish school), the idea of auditing an already-existing system purchased with an already-approved budget, makes me want to beat my head against a wall. The only two words I can think of are "monumentally stupid."
25 comments or Leave a comment