ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom: Libraries Should Embrace Video Games, Not Ban Them

An interesting editorial penned by Barbara Jones, the director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association, puts the brakes on all the talk about banning video games from public libraries. There have been a few instances where some have called for mature rated games to be banned from libraries, most notably the Paterson Free Public Library (Paterson, New Jersey) and the Elmhurst Public Library (Elmhurst, Illinois) after the tragic events in Newtown Connecticut in December of last year.

Jones argues that instead of banning games, libraries should embrace them:

"Instead of considering bans, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom recommends that libraries cultivate videogame creation, play, and contests," she writes. "Many reluctant learners are at-risk youth, and gaming helps bring them into the library. James Paul Gee (What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy) has documented how gaming leads to positive classroom outcomes, as has David Williamson Shaffer (How Computer Games Help Children Learn)."

She also goes on to dismiss most of the questionable research out there on video games, instead citing the California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors that was struck down by the Supreme Court in Brown v. EMA, and past public comments from Christopher Ferguson, chair of the Department of Psychology and Communication at Texas A&M International University.

Ultimately Jones thinks that libraries should use the goodwill and trust they have earned over the years to create activities and programs that help address the problem of gun violence:

"Libraries are among the most trusted of institutions, she concludes. "It is time to use that trust to create activities and programs that help solve the problem of gun violence. ALA is working with the Kettering Foundation and with the Harwood Institute to promote such dialogue and, on June 28 during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, will host a community conversation about gun violence that will include young people who have been affected."

Source: American Libraries Magazine



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