May the Fourth Be With You: 2013

May 4th is on a Saturday next year and so help me, I’ll be planning and implementing a large scale, fun for the whole family “May the Fourth Be With You” Star Wars nerdamondium party that will be so awesome I may just explode.

Other libraries have done it with much success. You can get free cosplay storm troopers etc from your local branch of the 501st legion which is really the thing that’s going to make the party. The idea is to have a wide range of activities that would appeal to all ages, bringing in families as well as single adults. Additional ideas include:

Do you think you’d have a Star Wars party at your library?

we don’t need you, either.

The Summer Reading program. It is the eventĀ  that youth librarians spend almost their entire year either preparing for or recovering from. Children and parents descend, en masse, worked up into a froth of excitement from the promotional tour–books were booktalked, prizes were displayed and demonstrated, and the joy and pleasure of the program were hyped to the extreme.

Summer Reading, in my opinion, should be about the joy of reading, with the bonus of getting tacky plastic crap in return. I hope most libraries also give away books; in most programs I’ve worked in, that is the final prize. I also see Summer Reading as a time for kids to experience the freedom to read what they want. No AR tests, no quizzes, just–read. Enjoy a story, or a set of facts, or a recipe. Listen to an audiobook, or idly flip through a magazine. Read a video-game guide while you play your current favorite game (and people who think gamers don’t read, have you seen the super-thick game guides that are out there? Lots of text, and pretty complex directions to follow as well. So, shut it, people who claim video games are anti-literate; between the guides and the story inherent in most games, gamers are incredibly literate.)

I’ve recently heard a sad tale of a library that restricts teens to reading only YA titles for their summer reading. That sounds so nonthreatening, right? But it isn’t. It’s step one down the slippery slope of restricting access to materials. What if a teen doesn’t want to read YA books, and prefers adult books? Stephen King and Dean Koontz are popular with teens, as is Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks and his LOVE stories (don’t call them romances). Tough sh*t, guys; you’re gonna read what the librarian tells you to read. And don’t forget, when adding up your totals, 2+2=5.

This library also denies teens the ability to check out movies based on rating. Even a 17 year old, who could see an R rated movie in the theater, can’t check out an R rated film from the library, because if you’re 17, you have a card that is color coded to indicate that your access is restricted.

This, my dear friends, is censorship. It is acting in loco parentis, which is frankly not the librarian’s job.

I hate these policies, and all too often teens are the ones suffering the most. Why can’t teenagers get a break?

Thinking about this stuff just makes me feel so sad and tired. Does anyone have any stories about awesome libraries that go out of their way to defend the rights of minors to access information?

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box Game Review

Does anyone still deny that video games belong in libraries? Well, yes, yes they do, but I hope no librarians do. Video games in the library can promote social interaction, which is an excellent thing to encourage when you consider that libraries can also be seen as community centers.

But have you thought about all of the video games that have storylines (like the one in the article, that I am totally going to encourage my library to buy)? Final Fantasy, Fable 1 & 2, Dragonquest, Super Mario Brothers (old school), all have fairly intricate plots, and honestly, almost all video games at least have CHARACTERS, which, when last I checked, were an important part of stories, along with plot, symbolism, etc.

Stories are stories, whether they are printed on a page, a screen, or brought to life by actors or animators. We need to realize this, and encourage kids (and, frankly, adults), to TALK about these stories. The talking, I think, is the important missing link. TALK to these kids about how the plot of their favorite video game(s) progresses. TALK to them about how the characters act. Are they cocky? Shy? Do they get angry when they are hurt, or do they cry? Even Mortal Kombat has a diverse cast of characters with rich backstories. It’s like the Forsyte Saga with (more) punching and kicking (and if you can get a gamer to read the Forsyte Saga by reader’s advisor-ing the similarities, please let me know so I can laud you to no end).

But you don’t have to take (only) MY word for it. Check out some of the things that come up from a google search of “storytelling and video games”.

What do you think about video games? Do you agree or disagree?