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February 1, 2015 / Charlie McNabb

Boardgames in the Library

I’ll just come out and say it: I’m a nerd. When I’m not archiving or librarianing, my favorite thing to do is play boardgames. So I was very pleased to meet a fellow boardgame geek, John Pappas. John had written a six-part article on boardgame programming in public libraries, which totally inspired me. He was willing to sit down with me and talk about logistics, and before long, I had a game night approved by my director!

Why are games appropriate for an academic library, you may ask? Modern boardgames have evolved far beyond the boring and luck-based Monopoly-type games of our youth. These new designer games have interesting and varied game mechanics, complex decision-making, a high level of interaction, and lovely visual design. Because they require higher order thinking, they support information literacy.

Beyond the learning aspect, games are fun. People enjoy playing them and they can be a way to meet new friends and improve social literacy as well. Academic libraries can be intimidating to some folks, so holding a game night is a great way to make the space welcoming and also for librarians to show their fun non-professional side.

My awesome director gave me a snacks budget, several colleagues helped me plan for the space and timing, a student worker created a fantastic poster, and various affinity groups on campus helped promote through their email lists. My friendly local game store, Redcap’s Corner, even lent us some demo games!

Because Haverford is such a tiny college, I would have considered 8 attendees a success. To my amazement, 28 students showed up over the course of the evening! They really liked Coup, Tsuro, Pandemic, and Ticket to Ride. And they made some great suggestions for next time! I’m hoping to hold game nights three times a semester: once during the first two weeks, as a welcome back; and two more for midterms and finals weeks, as a stress reliever.

In the meantime, I’ll be learning some new games- for research, of course.

Flyer with a photo of the Game of Thrones boardgame and text reading "Game night in Magill. Settlers of Catan, Coup, Hanabi, and beyond! Friday, Jan. 30th 7-9pm Magill Library Lobby."

Gorgeous flyer created by student worker Stephen.

The key to the success of any academic event is snacks.

The key to the success of any academic event is snacks.

A game board covered with pieces, with several sets of hands around it, actively playing the game.

Five players enjoying Ticket to Ride


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