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A Novel Idea: Video Games at the Library

March 17, 2008

Sturbridge, Mass. -- It's not your grandpappy's library. Today, shelves once bulging with books or magazines also offer video games. It's a way to get young people into their building, librarians say, and that's the first step toward turning them on to reading.

Librarians Cheryl Zelazo and Patricia Lalli at Joshua Hyde Public Library in Sturbridge use this strategy. Zelazo says it serves as a good introduction to libraries.

"Part of it is just getting the kids to come into the library initially. That's always one of the problems, especially with the older kids--the young adult group. Getting them in is half the battle, and then they'll see other things we have to offer."

Games like "Guitar Hero" and "Dance Dance Revolution" are 'where it's at' for this age group, Zelazo explains. Her library recently held a video game party for teens, and the response was so overwhelming they had to turn some would-be gamers away. She says the staff will be better prepared for the crowd next time around.

Other area libraries have video game nights on a regular basis, too. Sturbridge children's librarian Patricia Lalli says librarians are always thinking of new ways to incorporate technology.

"The libraries need to use that to their benefit by incorporating it into programming, at the same time they're encouraging children to entertain and educate themselves with books and literature."

Lalli adds that this is one way to encourage teens to go out to positive gathering places in the community.

Kevin Clay/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MA