Ask the Hive Mind: How Do You Process Games to Make Them Last?

If you’re looking to start a tabletop game collection, you probably have questions. GameRT is here to help!

In this blog series, once a month we’ll take a commonly asked “nut-and-bolts” question and share our different perspectives on it!

Library items are destined for a life of hard use. With more people loving them, they see more wear and tear than a personal item ever would. If you’re investing money into a game collection, though, you want it to last. Few libraries have infinite funds for replacing damaged and worn-out items. So how do you prepare your games so that they stay in as good of condition as they can for as long as possible?

How do you process board games so they last?

We turned to the GameRT hive mind and we’ve come up with a few different perspectives!

Ashley Ann, from GameRT Facebook

Our game boxes all get an “ATTENTION!” label that indicates the games must be returned to the reference desk and not in the bookdrop, or they will be fined $10. (Can’t risk losing pieces/things getting crushed). Otherwise the barcode is the only other thing taped to the outer box.

As far as on the inside, we make our own components lists, mark which essential things staff need to review upon return. And then we also make a shelf token for each game since we store our games behind the desk and not on public shelves.

Rebecca Strang, GameRT President

Our games have:

  • H-bands on boxes
  • Call number on front and side
  • Barcode on back (ideally not centered under the h band)
  • Front barcode sticker area also says games cannot be returned in the drop box; includes BGG complexity rating, player count, average play time, published recommended age
  • Inside box lid there is an inclusion list of all the big items and bags that need to be counted (we don’t count every single card/piece, we check for key pieces and bags of things); there’s also a problem slip that patrons can fill out of they notice a specific missing piece (similar to the slips that go in DVDs and video games)

Molly Porter, from GameRT Facebook

The outside of our boxes get a barcode and notice to return to the circulation desk instead of the book drop. The inside gets a contents list, as well as a QR code (and shortened link above it) for a form they can fill out to inform us of missing or damaged pieces. I’m also working on a YouTube playlist full of videos on how to play the games, and I’ll probably add a QR code for the playlist in the games as well, I check the games once per month. I also have a label for some items that are for in-house use rather than our circulating collection, like decks of cards, extra chess boards, etc. I scan the instructions for all of the games (or find a pdf online if it’s readily available). For some games we have, like the hunt a killer boxes (Nancy Drew’s mystery at magnolia gardens, for instance), I scan or take photos of every item in case I need to replace items. Some bigger companies will send you replacement pieces, but some of them don’t specify (and those hunt a killer items are so delicate).

Laura Rysavy, GameRT Facebook

Outside gets normal stickers plus a “Return to front desk” sticker. Inside I include a laminated copy of the instructions with an inventory list attached.

We have over 480 games in our collection and it is still growing. I weeded 10 games from our entire collection that haven’t been circ-ed for more than a year.

Erin Weaver, from GameRT Facebook

I leave the games in their original boxes and add the standard stickers as well as a “do not put in book drop” sticker. I also add a colored dot that corresponds to the type of game play involved (strategy, dice, cooperative, etc). Also included is a paper asking if the game is missing pieces and whether it can be played without the missing part. The box gets secured with an h-band.

Emma, GameRT Membership & Promotion

Our circulating games go through the ringer. The process we use to protect our games was developed through trial and error. The first part of a board game that we noticed showing wear is the corners, so we tape those up on all sides. Boxes with hinges get as much reinforcing tape as they can withstand, because they frequently like to tear. We laminate single sheet instructions if we can. Rulebooks, as well as items that could reasonably be mistaken for toys (like the Yeti in Yeti in my Spaghetti), get stamped with our library information. Boxed games get a boat load of stickers attached to them. Our borrowing policies go in the bottom left corner, a very bright reminder to return them to the circulation desk in the upper right corner. Games in boxes get cross bands placed on them, primarily as a visual reminder to discourage young patrons from opening them up until they’ve been checked out.

Smaller games hang in bags. These don’t get as much tape because they have the bag to protect them. The bag still does get the circulation policy taped to the front of it, though, and a large inventory is provided that tells about the game. We have a bar installed on our shelving that these games hang on, letting patrons flip through them as they browse. 

Some posts edited for clarity.

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