Games about Libraries

In honor of National Library week, April 3rd-9th, here is a bunch of games set in libraries. (Yes, we know that April is Poetry Month, but this is fun too. Maybe more fun!)

Board Game: Ex Libris

• Designer: Adam P. McIver
• Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
• 1-4 players
• 45 minutes
• Age: 10+

Compete to be named the Grand Librarian, by growing your personal collection of books and outshine your fellow collectors. This game is loads of fun, introduces mechanics like worker placement and set collection, and has an interesting light campaign solo mode. The only thing to caution libraries about this wonderfully themed game is the rule book can be a bit dense, so try watching some rules videos or playthroughs.

Board Game: Fire in the Library

• Designer: Tony Miller, John Prather
• Publisher: Weird Giraffe Games
• 1-6 players
• 15-30 minutes
• Age: 8+

This is a push your luck game set in a library that is about to go up in flames. Your objective is to use the tools available to you to save as many books from the library as you can, all while being aware that if you are too reckless you can make the fire worse. Points are scored through safely saving books as well as your bravery (or recklessness) while doing so. Variant rules add to the potential to meet a variety of patron needs and abilities. For example there is one option suited  for younger players that takes away tool cards and makes the game strategy much simpler. There is also a solo variant of the game for patrons who might prefer to play by themselves. Like most games with cards of varying abilities it takes a bit to become familiar with all the card’s powers and strategy. However, it is a quick  game to learn and an exciting one to play at game night.

RPG: The Sealed Library

• Designer: Matt Sanders
• Publisher: Sealed Library
• 1 player
• 15+ minutes
• Ages 13+
• Available: PDF https://sealedlibrary.itch.io/the-sealed-library, Physical Copies: https://sealedlibrary.com/

This is a tense and arresting solo journaling game where you play as the junior librarian of a library about to be overrun by invaders. You record your struggles and failures as well as rare triumphs of trying to preserve at least part of your library against destruction. A six sided die and a standard 52 card deck are used to generate the events you encounter and record. While a tumble tower is used throughout play to demonstrate the growing precariousness of your situation. Though there is hope success is very very rare and it is in grappling with this reality that the game shines. With few rules and a well designed layout this is a quick game to learn and dive into. Recommended for any library’s ttrpg collection and  to play for librarians and patrons alike.

Video Game: The Librarian

• Designer & Publisher: Octavi Navarro
• 1 player
• 30 – 60 minutes
• Age: 8+
• Available: Steam and itch.io for Windows 8-11 and MacOS 10.7-10.14,
(trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W81wa0VYlpI)

This delightful game is heavy on atmosphere and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Within its beautiful point-and-click environments, there are some very good puzzles that recall the classic LucasArts games of the 1980s and 1990s. From the first clue to the last cutscene, Octavi Navarro weaves a compelling mystery that doesn’t necessarily get totally solved. But it doesn’t need to, because this game is much more about the journey than the destination.

Other : Uncensored Library in Minecraft

• Designer: Reporters without Borders
• Publisher: Mojang
• 1 player
• Age: Adult
• Available: on Minecraft Java version 1.16.4 on PC or Mac – (https://uncensoredlibrary.com/en)

This is not really a game about a library; It is a library within a game. If you have Minecraft you can walk your character around a virtual library of banned and censored materials. To circumvent not only limitations on journalism, but also restrictions on what can be accessed through the internet, banned and censored works have been transcribed into the virtual “books” in a Minecraft library. China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and more, have virtual library rooms where the materials banned in that country are held. There is even a “book” on censorship of Covid information and statistics in the U.S. Here is a helpful document about how to “play” the library: https://www.uncensoredlibrary.com/download/UL_HowToInstallMinecraft.pdf

Happy Gaming!


Want to write a list or article for the blog? Drop us a line at gamert@ala.org

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