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



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    Sam-LibrarIan Witt says:

    I'm pretty sure the game publishers view library game lending as just another black hole of business. They ignore the research stating that regular library users actually purchase a healthy amount of content for personal use and continue shouting that patrons/renters/borrowers/used game purchasers are the bane of society.

  2. 0
    grenaid says:

    Yet ANOTHER reason that I hope the next generation of consoles keeps the flexibility of game trading the current gen does.  How can a library lend games under the Xbox One?

  3. 0
    Sam-LibrarIan Witt says:

    It is so refreshing to read this.

    I worked as my local Kentucky library's Young Adult Programmer for one and a half years. I planned, hosted and assisted with all programs and events involving teenagers. Twice a week we held a program simply called Teen Space in which teens could come for two hours and play video games of various kinds. We would sometimes hold special gaming events, too, that featured M-rated games. If minors wanted to play these games, they needed parental consent (just like everywhere else). The library also carried M-rated Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii games that we checked out only to those of proper age. There are many libraries embracing video games for their cultural, entertainment and community value and I'm glad that I was a part of impacting teens' lives through the medium in however small of a way it was. Anyone who believes that video games do not belong in libraries (because libraries, of course, are only for educational and scholarly materials [lol]) is sorely misinformed.

Leave a Reply