-[We don't tend to reprint press releases verbatim here at GameSetWatch. But the role of libraries in promoting and legitimizing gaming as a public-funded community activity is _tremendously_ undervalued and it's awesome to see the ALA supporting it in such a major way.]

"NEW LIBRARY GAMING FORMAT ATTRACTS DIVERSE USERS

Libraries host gaming program and events on April 18 for gaming @your library

CHICAGO – Libraries are bridging generations by offering a new educational and recreational format – gaming. Hundreds of libraries throughout the country will attract new users by hosting gaming programs and events on April 18, 2008, in celebration of gaming @your library, taking place during National Library Week that celebrates the popularity and educational value of games.

"Libraries are changing and dynamic places, and are continuously offering new formats and innovative programs and services that educate, entertain and expand interaction with their patrons," said ALA President Loriene Roy. "Expanding a format such as gaming is yet another example of how libraries are reaching diverse users."

Historically, libraries are well known as key providers of print resources, but as libraries continue to change to meet the needs of their communities and users, so do the formats they offer. Libraries still provide traditional services, but continue to enhance services by offering CDs, DVDs, e-books, videogames and programs like family gaming nights.

Public libraries are holding video tournaments and creating Gaming Clubs, bringing in gaming equipment, video screens and providing a social experience not found elsewhere in the community. A sample of the types of games offered are "Dance, Dance Revolution," "Super Smash Brothers Brawl," "Guitar Hero," and "Rock Band." As a result, library attendance among some of the hardest to reach demographics – kids, teenagers and college students – is growing exponentially.

In addition to being a big draw to younger library users, many games appeal to entire families. With new systems like the Nintendo Wii and a mix of traditional and modern tabletop games available, all members of the family can play – from kids to grandparents.

Three generations have grown up with videogames (Generation X, Generation Y, and Millennials), and Baby Boomers and members of Greatest Generation are now playing games more than ever before.

For example, the Old Bridge Public Library (N.J.) is using videogames as an introduction to technology for seniors. Not only are these users gaining experience and confidence with these new systems before moving up to computer classes, but they also are being taught how to use the equipment by local teens in a reverse mentoring program.

Not all games are right for every library user. Just as with television shows, movies and books, parents need to take an active role in observing the gaming activities their teen/child participates in at the library. While there are some games making headlines for their violent content, the truth is that 85% of the video games sold in 2007 were aimed at kids 16 and younger and considered 'family friendly.' Only 15% of the games sold in 2007 were intended exclusively for adults.

Gaming is like any other extracurricular activity and it should be practiced in moderation in the same way as television, movies, and Internet usage. Kids often play video games at home, but playing them at the library makes it a more social experience they can share with their family and friends.

A study of adult gaming at the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County (N.C.) found that patrons who attended gaming events at the Library were more open to reaching out to librarians when they needed answers to questions.

Myths about gaming:

*Gaming offers no educational value - In fact it's nearly impossible to succeed at most board and video games without a broad array of literacy skills.

*Video games create a noisy environment - It's true that kids, adults, and seniors playing videogames can produce more noise than other library activities, but libraries often have special areas for gaming far from those who need/want a quiet space to enjoy other library services or they hold gaming events after the library closes.

*Games are for kids - Gaming isn't just for children and young adults anymore. Recent statistics show that the largest group of online gamers is middle-aged women who play games such as Bejeweled and Bookworm between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

For more information on gaming @your library, please visit www.ala.org/gaming."