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According to a recent item in Library Journal, Nintendo is donating 21 Wiis to libraries. My initial cynical reaction to this ploy is shameless advertisement.

But even if a selfless act of goodwill on Nintendo’s part, I’m not sure that I fully support the idea. I just don’t know that libraries need to become gaming hubs. I suppose it really comes down to a question of whether or not gaming supports the mission of the public library. For example, here is an example of a mission statement from the Hennepin County Library system in Minnesota:

“Hennepin County Library promotes full and equal access to information and ideas, the love of reading, the joy of learning, and engagement with the arts, sciences, and humanities.”

Nothing about entertainment or even improved physical ability.

The Cincinnati public library promotes “Connecting people with the world of ideas and information.” Again, don’t see where the Wii fits in…

I’m not trying to be a luddite here, or even really to play devil’s advocate. It’s an honest question. Does gaming fit in to our missions, or is it just something public libraries are flocking to in order to appear hip and relevant (look at us! We’re the library and we’re cool!)? Is it time to adjust our mission statements?

February 2008
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