Games and Education Librarian at the University of North Texas Media Library
Interviewed by Julie Hornick
Tell us about yourself. Briefly, who are you and what is your role at your library?
I am the Games and Education Librarian at the University of North Texas Media Library. My job duties include game collection development, cataloging, space and technology management, subject librarianship, and game event planning.
I have worked at UNT for about 32 years with 23 of them in the UNT Media Library. This library has evolved over the years to be a vibrant space where students interested in media arts, film, and gaming can gather. The Media Library is staffed by six full-time staff and librarians supported by ten part-time student assistants. Everyone collaborates and participates in the activities that have made this library one of the best places to be on campus.
Share a program that you have developed or participated in that you were really proud of or excited by.
The UNT Library supports summer camps for neurodiverse students. This program has given us an opportunity to create tabletop breakouts and escape room experiences for campers, facilitate tabletop play, and highlight the value of libraries. Participating has helped both students and staff improve their soft skills such as communication, listening, conflict management, motivation, and problem solving.
Does your library have a gaming collection? If so, tell us a little bit about it.
The UNT Game collection began in 2009 to support our new student welcome week. It has since grown to support events across campus, coursework, esports, and recreational gaming. The game collection includes modern video games and consoles, retro video games and consoles, tabletop games, giant games, breakouts, and escape rooms. Patrons can check out items to play in their own spaces or play in our gaming space. Faculty use our collections and gaming space to provide instruction on game design, narrative, and culture.
Tell us about a time when you had to advocate for your game programs or collection.
Over the past 12 years, we have collected circulation statistics as well as faculty and groups’ usage of materials and space. Media Library staff have also spent considerable time building relationships and engaging with others using the game collections. A recent decision by the university to reclaim the Media Library’s current space for classrooms meant that our collection would be moving to a smaller space in the main library. Using statistical information on library usage and positive personal accounts from patrons and faculty, we were successful in advocating for a larger, more visible gaming space equal to the one we are losing.
How do you get your games?
The Media Library has a yearly budget to purchase content and equipment. Each year we allocate funds for games and films, new equipment, replacements, preservation materials, and consumables like cables and batteries. We purchase most of our items through Amazon.
What value do games or gaming bring to you, personally?
I enjoy playing video games that focus on open-world survival in my free time. I enjoy exploring new worlds and building a base to fight off any hordes who might happen to pass by. Games are a wonderful way to bring people together. They allow people to practice soft skills, engage in play, and meet new people.
What value do games bring to your library community?
Games have welcomed in a new audience that before may not have sought the library as a place to spend time. Enrichment of the community through additional users and voices is always welcome and helps collections and services develop to become more inclusive.
What is one thing about games or what you do with games that people do not know about, but that you wish they knew?
As games gain more of a foothold in academia through formal degree plans and programs, providing access to video games is increasingly an issue of accessibility. Specific knowledge and technological expertise are needed to maintain and make available collections of materials and devices that often span technological generations. A lack of expertise in preserving and handling this content and playback devices could leave faculty and patrons unable to use materials necessary for their studies. There is value in older physical collections, and developing the skillsets needed to care for them has value for the library.
What would you tell someone who wants to bring game programs or collections to their library?
Do it! Games are just another narrative format and should have a space in the library. The UNT Media Library game collection has helped the library create a vibrant third place for students, is used to attract new game design and media arts faculty, has led to unique collaborations and new relationships that have benefited the library and students.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
You can find out more about how our collections and how we manage them in our LibGuide at https://guides.library.unt.edu/Game-Collection.
Do you know a librarian or library paraprofessional who likes games and/or runs gaming programs at their library that should be spotlighted? Maybe even yourself? Fill out this form! Nomination is not limited to ALA Game and Gaming Round Table members.