School Librarian, Glenthorne High School, South London, UK
Interviewed by Julie Hornick
My name is Lucas Maxwell and I’m the librarian at Glenthorne High School in South London, UK. I’m originally from Nova Scotia, Canada. I’ve been working with youth in libraries for nearly fifteen years and have enjoyed it immensely.
A program that I am really excited to be running in our library is Dungeons and Dragons. I run it twice a week with teens but since then it has taken on a life of its own in weird and wonderful ways. I have been asked to write a book on table top role playing games in libraries, I’m part of a fun and successful D&D podcast with adults, and I’ve been able to connect with so many great people. It sounds cliche but the game really has changed my life for the better.
The value that games like D&D bring to me personally is that they are a form of therapy. As someone who is autistic I have experienced a lot of challenges in terms of employment, friendships and social interactions. Games like D&D have been therapeutic in that they allow me to get lost in something I love, they connect me with like-minded people and they provide a fun and safe space to express myself in fun and creative ways.
The value that games like D&D brings to the library community that I serve is that it also acts as a form of therapy. The students that I work with never miss a session and use it to express their fears and anxieties through their characters. They have also formed a very strong friendship circle, are being more creative by the day, are reading more for pleasure and have proven that the library is a safe place where you can be yourself without fear or judgement.
One thing that I wish people knew is how strong an impact gaming and games like D&D can have. Many people observing this game from the outside might consider it a bit of frivolous fun but it’s much more than that. It’s a scheduled form of relief, it’s a way to connect with others and form a shared experience that is unique and creative and at the end of the day games and gaming in libraries are positive memory generators. My ultimate goal is to have students look back on their time in school and remember that in the library there was someone there who cared and wanted them to be safe and have fun.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by running a game like D&D in your library my advice is to start small and give it a try. There are tons of librarians on social media who are eager and willing to help librarians new to table top role playing games, your library community will thank you if you start one!
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.