Hive Mind: Nintendo Switch in the Library

If you’re looking to host gaming at your library, you probably have questions. GameRT is here to help!

In this blog series, once a month we’ll take a commonly asked “nut-and-bolts” question and share our different perspectives on it!

Many libraries struggle with finding ways to keep teens and young adults engaged at the library. Game programming can go a long way towards bridging this gap. One popular video game system used is the Nintendo Switch, which is comparatively cheaper than other options, has a wide variety of games, and is user friendly. 

If you want to incorporate a Switch at your library, how do you go about it? Let’s ask the GameRT Hive Mind and see what they have to say!

Alec Gramm, ALA GameRT Outreach Committee Chair

I used our Nintendo Switch in a family game night (1-2 switch), Teen game night (switched between Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros), Smash tournament (Junior Division – 6-12 y/os (1st-5th/6th), Senior division – 13-18 y/os (6th-12th)), and Make Your Own Mario Level (Super Mario Maker 2)

Marilyn Weiss, League of Librarian Gamers Member

I have a monthly video game club where we use the Switch. I offer the kids a few game choices like Super Smash Brothers, Super Mario 3D World, Switch Sports, and Just Dance.

And every November I try to do a bigger family game day for International Games Month. My most successful by far is my Mario Kart Tournament. I set up a bracket and the kids compete in a tournament. The winner gets a 3D printed Mario Kart trophy. And while the main races are going on I have older consoles set up with retro Mario Kart that the parents are really excited to play with the kids. I also make Mario hats that the kids can decorate with puff paint. I’ve actually had kids return to other Mario events with their hats which was great.

My other big family game day is Just Dance. I have a playlist of curated “appropriate” songs on Just Dance, and the kids can put their name next to their request. I have 4 lead dancers with the joycons who lead the group during their song, in taped off squares so they don’t run into each other, but other kids and parents are encouraged to dance along behind them. I provide them with water and clementines in case they have dancing too hard and need a break.

Liz B, ALA GameRT Secretary

At my last library (midsize suburban, public) we kept a Switch on the floor in our Teen section that anyone could walk up and play, with four non-joycon controllers. We had a few games preloaded (Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart) but users could also request to play any (non-mature rated) game from the shelves. It was in high demand anytime school was out but it was also a popular feature when our disabled adult groups visited. 

For security, the Switch was kept in a locked cabinet. There were some issues with the controllers. Because of high use, a few of them needed to be replaced or repaired and we did have one instance of theft (which we were able to respond to quickly because the absence was noticed almost immediately.) But the cost of replacement was easy to justify given the amount of use. 

For organized programming, we hosted Super Smash Tournaments during spring and winter break. They tended to attract 25 – 50 tournament players, plus accompanying spectators. Prizes were 3D printed trophies we printed in house but players were more motivated by bragging rights within the local gaming community. 

Rebecca Strang, ALA GameRT President

We have one that lives in the teen space. Teens can check out the controllers at the desk and play games pretty much any time. We also have a second switch for the children’s department. This one gets used for video game club. This is a bridge program that we run with the teen librarians for grades 4-7. We use two switches for this program. Our consoles do not circulate, but the games do.

If you have a Nintendo Switch or a game collection, comment with your answer below! If you have a question you’d like to ask, comment and let us know, or send us a message at

One comment

  1. Seeing libraries embrace video games as a tool for engaging the public is outstanding. In my mind, it is a big deal to see posts like this, where professional Librarians are helping each other accomplish the creation of spaces for the public to freely use interactive media. It shows that the true purpose of a library is learning. As well as community building. In whatever forms the world needs. I hope to see something like this at my local library. Thank you for posting.

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