I always have a bit too much on my plate, but then I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I made my way through some backlogged reading I came across this article by Dave Gibson featured in the American Chronicle:
In essence, Mr. Gibson contends that libraries are contributing to the dumbing down of America by shifting their focus away from literature. His memories of libraries are of a place of quiet reverence and literate study and that by offering movies and games, libraries are helping to contribute to illiteracy in America.
Literature is still relevant to today’s youth, but it is competing with a host of other leisure activities. And sadly, literature often gets lost in the shuffle. Today’s libraries have not stopped being a place where literature is respected or readily available. Nor have best sellers and classics disappeared from collection development. What some are noting is an adaptation in marketing.
Libraries have always been a social gathering space to learn, discuss and share ideas and information both of a scholarly and leisurely nature. Book clubs, weekend concerts and magicians are nothing new to library spaces. They were marketing tools that brought the community together and provided librarians an opportunity to meet new faces and share new books.
Games too, have been in libraries for many years, it is only the format and focus that has changed. Bridge clubs and chess matches easily fit the mold of THE TRADITIONAL LIBRARY. But those were older games that targeted an older crowd. Libraries are looking for authentic ways to connect with the youth and get them in the door.
What happens inside has not changed despite the years. Leisure activities and literature intermingle in a delicate dance, and yes… learning still takes place. Games convey a host of skills related to both traditional literacy/curriculum standards and more modern ones as well, see Gaming, School Libraries and the Curriculum, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee (Palgrave MacMillan 2003), and Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century by David Franklin Warlick (Linworth 2004).
You can still find traditional activities taking place in libraries across the country, but times change and libraries do too. Without growth and adaptation, libraries run the risk of becoming like Mr. Gibson’s halls of quiet reverence… a nostalgic memory.