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Gaming Librarian Spotlight: Gabriel Johnson

Tell us about yourself. In a nutshell, who are you and what is your role at your library?

I’m currently the Technical Services Librarian for my hometown public library, Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library, after serving as a school librarian at an international school in Seoul, South Korea for eight years.

How would you define a gamer?

Simply, anyone who games.  This includes tabletop, console, PC, mobile, etc.  I’ve often seen the term used to be more exclusive than inclusive, and I think we need to get past that.

What got you into gaming?

For tabletop games, it was the introduction to the old Milton Bradley series including Axis & Allies and Shogun.  After drifting away from that world, it was being introduced to Catan (“Settlers of Catan” back then) and Ticket to Ride. For video games, it was when I finally saved up enough to buy a Nintendo.  I remember beating Super Mario Brothers for the first time on a black and white TV!

What is your favorite game? Why? 

Easily Star Wars: Outer Rim!  My son and I love the theme, and the game, while not exactly open-world, leans into providing a lot of choices.  Mechanically, it’s still fairly easy to pick up, too.

What game are you excited by right now? Why?

Ierusalem Anno Domini!  I’m something of a church history nerd (I also have an M.Div. in addition to my MLS!), and I’m fascinated by modern hobby games that address biblical content and church history.  I was also able to catch it on sale!

Does your library have a gaming collection? If so, tell us a little bit about it. 

We’ve had a very small collection of tabletop games that was only accessible in house for several years, but I’ve been pushing to make it circulating.  We just started circulating them a few months ago, and we can barely keep them on the shelf.  It’s mostly modern classics—Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Apples to Apples, etc.  It also includes the kids’ versions of several of those games, and a few other kids’ games for younger audiences.

What value do games or gaming bring to you, personally?

Gaming is a fairly non-threatening way to connect with people and form friendships and gain community.  However, I also value solo gaming for keeping mentally sharp, while also experiencing an almost meditative kind of rest.

What is one thing about games or what you do with games that people don’t know about, but that you wish they knew? 

I find that many people aren’t aware of many modern games at all, but seem blown away by things like cooperative games and solo games.  I’d love to see more awareness of co-op and solo gaming.

Do you think gaming will grow in libraries? why or why not?

I think gaming will grow in libraries.  Many libraries serve communities that don’t have game stores, and many games are quite expensive, and this is a great place for libraries to come in and meet a need.  Libraries are often already set up to be friendly places for people of all ages, and, as such, are great places for introducing people to modern games.

What would you tell someone who wants to bring game programs or collections to their library? 

I think some kind of games would work well in nearly any community.  Be prepared to learn what your community is looking for and set aside your own tastes!  Form partnerships early in the process—whether that’s with local game stores, parks departments, after school programs, other libraries, etc.  If you’re dealing with board games, reach out to Jenn Bartlett-The Board Game Librarian.  She’s helped me with policies, procedures, and even finding me some game donations for my collection.

Thank you Gabe Johnson!

Interested in being featured in a Gaming Librarian Spotlight? Know someone who would be great? Let us know by adding a nomination: Gaming Librarian Nomination form

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