Circulating Video Game Collections

Why is DPL creating video game collections?

It is an experiment to further increase use of DPL. The root are DPL’s strategic directions, “align collections to customer needs and interests” and, “continue to explore and implement focused services that speak to specific customer needs.”

Public libraries nationally find audiovisuals circulate as well and often better than print. DPL already has great success circulating DVDs. In terms of adding more audiovisuals to increase use, video games appear the strongest “want” within Detroit. It also seems possible circulating video games may attract additional new customers for other DPL collections and services.

A largish community of video gamers exists in Detroit, but a small number of commercial outlets sell and/or rent video games. HYPE and Mark Twain Annex already successfully circulate video games. Other metro area and national public libraries successfully circulate video games despite stronger competition than DPL could face. At this moment in time, they look like the best collection development opportunity to further the Library’s strategic directions.

These collections are only circulating video games?

Yes. The whole point to this experiment is these collections circulate. They are different from the “in house use only” Reference collections at Redford’s Teen Center and in HYPE. That doesn’t preclude an agency from using these video games in programming. It is just the game(s) must be available for checkout a reasonable period before and after each program. ”In house use” and/or programming dedicated games must be purchased through the agency’s materials budget, programming funds, and/or other sources.

What kinds of video games?

The core collections are approximately 200 video games distributed across Xbox360, PS3, Wii and Nintendo DS platforms plus approximately 25 printed game guides. Collections were delivered in July – August to Campbell, Chandler Park, Conely, Jefferson, Mark Twain, Redford, Sherwood Forest, and Skillman.

What are the circulation policies?

Initially, one (1) game checked out at a time per library card. The circulation period is three (3) days. No automatic renewal allowed. No holds allowed. Overdue fines are $1.00 per day. As we gain experience, DPL can revisit these decisions if and when necessary.

Are some video games restricted to adult library cards?

No. Both adult and children cards check out everything. The rating system for video games cannot be used as a guide like the rating systems for movies and television. Video game ratings base heavily on “cartoon violence”, not language or sexual content. Games rated M, “mature”, in terms of cartoon violence are already consistently rented-sold-used by Detroit elementary age children, not to mention teens. Restricting M rated games to adult cards blocks a major segment, perhaps even a majority of the potential users. It also looks likely to produce more customer complaints than it solves. This is another decision DPL can revisit if later experience indicates.

How likely are video games to disappear from the shelves?

As unlikely as possible if we keep game discs – cartridges in staff areas, such as behind the Circulation desk. The experiences of other libraries are remarkably consistent, no security case works. If actual games are on public shelves, they will be stolen. The only effective security system appears to be keeping game cartridges - discs in staff areas and display empty game cases on the shelves.

This is another decision DPL may revisit as we gain experience.

How will DPL maintain and develop these collections?

Hopefully, circulation will justify buying more copies and more titles. Each branch has an audiovisual fund as part of its FY2009-2010 materials budget. However, selecting new titles looks likely to be less time consuming than either books or DVDs. Far fewer new videogame titles are released each month.

While we gain experience with our video game customers, DPL’s Collection Development Specialist will support agency selectors by creating quarterly lists of new games released.

What determines the experiment’s success or failure?

DPL will monitor the FY2009-2010 circulation of those collections. An item type ELGAME, electronic games (including video and computer), is defined in our SirsiDynix system specifically to track their circulation. The “Wildly Important Goal” set in DPL’s strategic planning process is each video game collection generates the equivalent of at least 5% of that branch’s total FY2008-2009 circulation by June 30, 2010.

September 2, 2009