Post 5: Video Games at Libraries

When you think of your local library, the first thing you think of probably isn’t video games. However, many libraries are developing video game collections, including games, consoles, and guides. Video games are increasingly being used as a teaching tool, as well as a subject of educational study in many fields. Libraries are also adding video game collections in the interest of preserving the technology for future study.

Engaging and Teaching Youth

Libraries are increasingly developing programming to bring kids and teens to the library and engage them in activities that will make their library experience a positive one. It not only provides a safe space for them to interact with their peers, it gets them into the library where they are surrounded by books and librarians.

Although video games are often thought of as just being for fun, or even being a waste of time, many of them can be used for learning purposes. One popular example is the game Minecraft. Microsoft and worked to create a tutorial that teaches children as young as six years old how to code. The structure of Minecraft allows it to be used for a variety of educational purposes that appeal to all age groups.

Using Minecraft as an Educational Tool (Edutopia, 2013)

Academic Research

Video games are increasingly becoming the subject of study at the university level. They can be analyzed and studied in a wide array of fields, from cultural studies to visual arts to computer science.  Many schools are developing their own mission statement as to the purpose of their video game collections, and the factors they are considering when building the collection.

Preservation of Video Games

Digital media can quickly be lost due to advancements in technology. Games made for an outdated system may have research value, but only if copies are preserved and made available. The original packaging on older games may not be appropriate for long-term storage, so libraries are looking at archival housing and storage, as well as determining what future steps might be taken to preserve the materials for the future.


One of the challenges for a library looking at adding video games is what selection criteria to use when building their collection. The type of library is going to impact the collection development goals. Public libraries may be looking at games that will engage the youth in their community or serve as a teaching tool, while academic libraries may be considering preservation and research when they make purchases. Ultimately, regardless of the motivations, there is a movement towards incorporating games and interactive media in library collections that is sure to continue.


American Library Association (2015). Frequently asked questions about gaming in libraries. Retrieved from

Edutopia (December 10, 2013). Using Minecraft as an educational tool . Retrieved from

Leswing, K (November 16, 2015). Here’s how Microsoft’s Minecraft will teach kids how to code. Fortune. Retrieved from

Owens, T. (September 26, 2012). Yes, the Library of Congress has video games: An interview with David Gibson. Library of Congress. Retrieved from

Tappeiner, E., & Lyons, C. (2008). Selection criteria for academic video game collections. Collection Building, 27, 121-125. Retrieved from