Getting Gaming on the Table

With all of the great presentations I've seen on offering specific gaming programs in public libraries, I was excited to attend a session all about the first steps necessary to get it going. Namely, the moolah and organizational support. Julie Scordato of Columbus Metropolitan Library wants to show us how!

She spoke of the need to have 2 ongoing conversations: one with staff and one with administration. Talking (and lots of it!) is what is required to sell people on the idea. What was so helpful about her comments that follow is that these methods are applicable to ANY new idea in the library, especially anything buzzwordy. Julie started by writing a 30 page (!!) proposal for gaming, requesting $15K to start the program. Her administration awarded her much more. Awesome!

* How do you sell people on gaming? Determine what's important to you: bringing in more teens? engaging teens? encouraging repeat visits? meeting teens where they are?

* Look at what is already in organization. Tie gaming into the library's mission/strategic plan and organizational culture. How can gaming support what your library is doing and meet the challenges facing it? Look at marketing studies, too. Are teens in our focus?

* Find allies in the Library. Don't just fall back on "admin is saying we have to do this." Quote: "It's a disadvantage if administration mandates gaming without previous staff buy-in."

* Avoid "positive negatives" as a reason for doing it. For example, "we gotta give the teens something to do because they're driving me crazy! " is not the best outcome!

* Find Your Gamers. They educate, reassure, informally answer questions. Find interested staff outside the department involved (Circ clerks, adult reference librarians, maintenance)

* Find Your Converts > staff who resisted, had no opinion, were on the fence

* Deal with the Naysayer. Encourage them to attend pilot programs, hook them up with their fellow converts and believers who they have cred with, and if that doesn't work, then agree to disagree as long as the administration is on board.

* Develop a proposal important to gain support and establish credibility. Tie into the educational value and tie to literacy. "Gaming is cool" is not enough. Show how it ties specifically into Library's mission and values, and have the cultural and statistical data to refute claims about its faddishness.

* Ask Admin: What extent do they envision their commitment? What is realistic timeline for implementation? What are expectations for staff involvement and follow-through?

* Get testimonials!

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