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Gaming Librarian Spotlight: Ian Reed

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

My name is Ian Reed and I’m a Children’s Services Librarian at the Naperville Public Library. I put the Ian in librar-ian and the Reed back in reed-ing.

How would you define a gamer?

Anyone who enjoys playing games in any sort of capacity, shape, or form, though generally in a non-athletic sense.

What got you into gaming?

    You can thank Nintendo for that. I’ve been gaming since the NES days in the 80’s and never stopped.

    What is your favorite game? Why?

    Pick my favorite game? But they’re like my children! So obviously, I have a favorite. Definitely Super Smash Bros.

    What game are you excited by right now? Why?

    The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. There’s just so much to do and explore that I’ll probably be playing it for years.

    Share a program that you have developed or participated in that you were really proud of or excited by.

    The monthly and very popular Pokémon Club that I help run at the library inspired me to plan and execute a large, library-wide Pokémon event, Pokémon Palooza, that will be entering its 3rd year this April. The event is a celebration of everything Pokémon, featuring tutorials on how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG), trivia, crafts, and a range of other fun activities. The tutorials are particularly popular because so many children collect the cards yet very few actually know how to play! Thousands of people have attended this event and it’s a blast for all ages.

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

    We certainly do! We have board game and video game collections at the Naperville Public Library for patrons to check out and bring home. We even have in-house board games and video games available to play in the library.

    Tell us about a time when you had to advocate for your game programs or collection.

    A colleague (Rebecca Strang of the ALA Games and Gaming Roundtable) and I took note of the popularity of Minecraft on our library’s iPads and decided we wanted to start a video game club. We gradually acquired a Nintendo Switch and the necessary online subscriptions to get us started, but due to player limitations (some games can only manage up to 8 players at a time on the Switch), we had to set a limit on the number of participants we could allow for each session. The program is a continuous success, with registration always filling months in advance and kids always eager to come back for more. But the limited capacity means having to justify small attendance numbers when libraries are often seeking impressive numbers. This sometimes means reminding or encouraging customers to provide firsthand feedback to the library to show their appreciation for their favorite programs so that they may continue to thrive.

    How do you get your games?

    Our Collection Services Department handles ordering our games from vendors, but the librarians can make requests should we spot any gaps in the collection that we think need filling.

    What games are popular in your community?

    As far as children’s materials are concerned, nearly everything! Our board games circulate so frequently that our shelves are nearly bare most of the time. Nintendo games are also quite popular in that age demographic.

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

    Like any good book, games have the ability to transport you to other worlds and grant you a way to escape and relax for a little bit. And for me, it’s a great way to reconnect with friends who live far away or spend more time with my wife and son.

    What value do games bring to your library community?

    I believe games have a great way of connecting people in our community. In our library’s video game club, for example, we witness kids ranging from 4th to 7th grade making new friendships through their shared love of video games as they learn cooperation, teamwork, and healthy competition. Gaming brings them together in a way that few other forms of media can.

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

    Games have serious educational and developmental value for children and adults! And if your library doesn’t already have any games in its collection, tell them to GET ON THAT.

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

    Absolutely. Both board games and video games are billion-dollar industries, and they’re still growing. Libraries are no longer defined by their shelves of books; they offer so much more as they keep a pulse on their community’s needs. And if the growing industries are any indication, it’s that people need games!

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

    Don’t give up! It’s totally worth it!

    Is there anything else that you’d like to share?

    Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start.

    Thank you, Ian Reed!

    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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