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Videogames on Library Shelves 82

illumina+us writes "According to an article at Gaming Target libraries across the nation are shelving video games and you will soon see them at your local branch. To quote the article: 'Public libraries all over the country have been adding video games to their collections. Its very possible that a library in your hometown has games on its shelf right now.'"
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Videogames on Library Shelves

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  • little late (Score:4, Informative)

    by Captain Rotundo ( 165816 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @02:42PM (#11814507) Homepage
    My local library has carried video games since my C64 days.
    • I haven't been a member of my current library too long (about 3 years), but they've held PC games there for that entire time. The biggest problem is the condition of the CD's. Just like with music CD's, PC CD's at libraries are TERRIBLY mistreated. Until a more durable disc is used for production CD/DVD's such as TDK's "armor plated" discs ( []), providing console games is a waste of time.
      • My library has all the crappy games. We have racing games, flight sims, business sims, and The Sims, but nothing violent, and everything's for the PC. They set up a PS2 during Spring Break, though, with NFS and some NBA game, and have a gaming computer set up in the YA room. One of the other libraries (which is closer to me) used to have people playing Starcraft on one of its PCs all the time. Literaly. A bunch of the bad, angry dropout kids started to hang around, just to play Starcraft. And, of course, we
    • My local library has carried video games since my C64 days.

      No kidding. When I was a teenager, my library had Atari 2600 games and just started to shelf NES games as well.

      Sadly, the library had to stop there due to excessive "shrinkage." The local school system repartitioned the grades and started to send younger students to "higher" schools, eventually crowding 9th Grade into a high school only set-up for 10th-12th. This had an unfortunate side effect of slowing the emotional and social development of t

  • In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @02:43PM (#11814523) Journal
    Library card applications have gone through the roof!

    I think it is a good idea... because as an adult I do not feel particularly good about reading a novel... I know I am wasting my time, there is nothing more noble about reading a Pratchett or seeing a movie, or playing a computer game.

    Plus it'll cut the cost for kids, and let them choose more. I say good.
    • Besides, it'll get the kids into the library in the first place.

      I wonder if this will be console only, or if it's PC too. I wouldn't mind taking out a PC game from my local branch...
      • Re:In other news (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hey! ( 33014 )
        Choices are funny things.

        If given a choice of playing video games or doing just about anything else, my kids will of course play video games. If there were no computer games at the library, it would probably still be their favorite place on earth, but if the computers are free they'll make a beeline for them and play until the librarian kicks them off.

        But interestingly, I don't think they really are happier playing video games, or really have more fun playing video games, than playing ball outside, or r
  • by kenthorvath ( 225950 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @02:49PM (#11814591)
    I wonder what the legal ramifications of this would be/will be if they do not just limit themselves to console games, but include computer games as well. Even if the games include prohibitive EULAs, if the librarians don't install the software themselves, buth rather provide the physical media (boxes, serials, etc...) it would be a violation of the end-user at best, but not the library. Is this correct?
    • Somehow I don't see a library trying to use a legal loophole on their end so patrons can illegaly copy games...
      • Somehow I don't see a library trying to use a legal loophole on their end so patrons can illegaly copy games...

        No more so than libraries using a loophole so patrons can illegally copy CDs and VHS tapes (both of which are widely available in libraries). In fact, given a typical 30-day loan period many people will finish the game in the period and have reduced incentive to keep a copy, unlike a music CD which you may wish to keep and listen to forever.

    • To carry out the instructions in the EULA, each patron would have to uninstall the game once the rental period is up. If the next patron were unable to install it due to the CD Key already being in use, the library would have to impose a late penalty on the first patron.

      Some games (Worlds of Warcraft, for example) require you to go through customer service channels if you want to use a CD Key that someone has used once before. Blizzard could license out a program that would do the rights management at th
    • Video Game Librarian checking in.

      Like I said in the article, CD-ROMs were discontinued at my library last year (about 50-100 were games). Patrons were having problems with used CD Keys and it was just easier to stop the whole thing.

      Basically, as long as we put a disclaimer on the package saying the program had to be removed from the patron's computer before it was all kosher with the EULA.
      • Basically, as long as we put a disclaimer on the package saying the program had to be removed from the patron's computer before it was all kosher with the EULA.

        Is that the case with all EULAs? That is, can a EULA explicitly forbid the transfer of software to another party once installed? In such cases, the first user would be allowed to use the game, but may not even be able to return the box and discs to the library.

        I agree that it seems problematic and too much effort for libraries to deploy, but this i

    • Several local libraries (different municipalities) have software over where I live. No one has console games, though.
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @02:54PM (#11814662)
    Hopefully, they will have on their shelves: "Grand Theft Book: Alexandria" in which you purloin tomes and spend the rest of the game running from and shooting library cops. I don't think you will find it in the children's section.

    "You can have this copy of the Necronomicon when you pry it from my cold dead hands, sucka!"

    Anyone know what's the cheat code so the topheavy bookmobiles are not as likely to tip over during high speed chases? The only code I know so far is the "Shhhh" mode that gets rid of the sounds.

  • Simpsons Game? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pnice ( 753704 )
    From the article: "The second qualifier: no Simpsons games just yet. I don't know why, but that was rule number two."

    I'm sorry, but what Simpsons game on the PS2 qualifies as a critical favorite or bestseller? Maybe it was a personal favorite or something he wanted to play but hadn't...glad he isn't picking my local library video game selection.

    ...but bravo for the library giving the negative to any of the Simpsons games.
  • News ??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dago ( 25724 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @03:00PM (#11814738)
    It's almost 10 years since belgian "mediatheque" (= libraries for music & video) expanded to also features CD ... and at least 7 years for games.

    I suppose it's the same in most countries.

    • In the US, I remember checking out software from the library 20 years ago for the Apple II series. Not a very new concept, but it probably wasn't as common two decades ago as it is now, and the trend is probably increasing.
  • Backlash? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AtariAmarok ( 451306 )
    The threat I see to this, if any, is videogame stores filing frivolous lawsuits about "unfair competition". Or videogame companies saying this encourages piracy. The same thing happened all over the country when video rental places complained about libraries carrying movies.

    I guess that the "book library" is such a venerable and beloved institution that Borders, etc won't file frivolous lawsuits against libraries for their competition. It would make them look very very bad. However, the "videogame library

    • I think it far more likely that the video rental industry will have a problem with this, as you just mentioned in the case of movies.

    • Our libraries just carry (for the most part) lame movies.

      Some of them carry music CDs, but I haven't heard about anyone whinging because you can rip MP3s from them.

      I'm all for it though - power to the people!
  • by jangobongo ( 812593 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @03:05PM (#11814794)
    Libraries already carry videos, DVDs and CDs, so this seems to be a logical next step for them. Libraries even used to provide record albums for checking out starting back in the '70's, so they have a long history behind this.

    Making all these things available for free is what libraries are about - a resource for those who can't afford it. Not everyone can buy every $30-$50 game that they want. If the libraries are providing educational games, as well as the fun time-wasters, then its a good public service.
  • by Apparently someone ( 457360 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @03:09PM (#11814856)
    "OK, everyone. Your reports are due a week from Monday. I don't want to have any more two page reports, this time!

    "The reports, as you know are limited to MMORPGs. Go get a copy of a 'classic' and I want you to deeply analyze l33tsp34k.


    "No, no! I don't want to hear any of that... Just get into it and take your time. Make it count. Your grade depends on it..."

    Daddy! It's for a report! My grade depends on it! DADDY!

  • other side of coin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by turbopunk ( 806995 )
    i work in the library software buisness. while talking to our customers, we get asked if things even stranger then video games can be cataloged. i don't find this surprising in the least. libraries, in general, are a public entity. whether they be a public library, a school library, etc, a large portion of the library market is public in some way. yes, there is the occation church library, or private collection, but almost everything is public. granted, i don't seen the value of placing games in a sch
    • "while talking to our customers, we get asked if things even stranger then video games can be cataloged."

      Don't leave us hanging! What are some of the stranger things? Hub caps? Beaver pelts? Shrunken heads?

      Just curious.

      • one example:

        we were dealing with a school library that had a bigger athlatic budget then library budget. so we sold the program to the school so they could catalog and circulate the athlethic equipment, but then the library got to use it as well.

        granted, i know there are better examples, but i'm drawing a blank on them. we've been in r&d for awhile now, so i haven't gotten to hear stupid customer questions lately.
  • by rivercityrandom ( 626724 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @03:21PM (#11815007) Homepage Journal

    What a total waste of taxpayer dollars! But then again, I suppose that's what people thought when they started adding videos and popular fiction books to library shelves. Indeed, a game such as Final Fantasy VII has just as much plot and "literary value" as your average romance novel or Adam Sandler film. Video games are products of our culture, and as such would tell us and future generations a lot about ourselves and our times, so there's no reason why they shouldn't be archived as books are in libraries. And it would bring the teenagers in, and maybe while they're at the library they might actually pick up a good book or something...

    Perhaps the wide-spread adoption among libraries of a specific video game format (such as the PS2) would also spur on a whole new set of edutainment titles, multimedia encyclopedias and technical manuals and such that would be available for libraries to check out to their patrons. If Sony maintains backwards compatibility with the PS2 format for at least the next few generations, these would still remain useful for some time, unlike the multimedia CD-ROMs of the early '90s that require Windows 3.1 or an old version of the Mac OS and Quicktime to run. With the graphics capabilities of the PS2, you could make, for instance, car and appliance repair manuals, that allow you to rotate the engine on the screen and take things apart and put them back together again before working on the actual equipment. Or you could put the entire Project Gutenberg library on a PS2 DVD, which could print to a USB printer or save to a USB keyfob. This would actually be a boon to poorer families, who might be able to afford a $149 PS2 but not a computer with a DVD drive that could handle the graphics required for similar full-screen video and 3D object manipulation.

    That said, a PS2-updated version of A Brief History of Time CD-ROM [] would be super-cool...

  • Transient? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VendingMenace ( 613279 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2005 @03:50PM (#11815353)
    The only real objection to this that i can think of is this;

    When my tax $$ goes to buying a book, i expect that the book will be used until it wears out. That is, there is no reason why a book that is bought today cannot be read 50 years from now. The technology needed for reading books is quite static.

    However, with video games, i see no reason to expect that games bought today will be used much even 5 years from now. Any consol games surely will be horribly out of date and few people will even own the consols anymore. Computer games will be somewhat better, but not much.

    The same problem (to a lesser degree) can be seen with the VHS collections. Really, how much are those collections used anymore and will they even exist in the next few years?

    The buying a video games just seems like a good way to run through the budgetary money that is already quite low for most public libraries. Why spend $50 on a game that will be used for a few years when you could buy 5 books for the same price and have them last for 25 years? It just doesn't seem like good fiscal management to me.

    On the other hand, i love games, and i am exicted to see libraries carrying them. I do think that it is a legitamate thing for libraries to carry -- as they function as repositories of culture. I just think that given the limited budgets that most libraries have to work with they money is better spent on less transitory media.

    I realize that adding games might make libraries more populare thus raising their budget. however, i think that DVD collections are much more effective at that. Lets face it, the majority of gamers are young children. And they don't constitute the voting power that adults do.

    I guess i am torn. I love the idea of libraries carrying games, but i don't like the idea of them spending money on something that will only be usefull for a few years. Perhaps libraries should have game collections, but they should be entirely built off of donations. Who knows. :D
    • My feeling is that with an increased amount of computer science grad students finding out they can write papers on games, some university libraries may start carrying something like this.

      I mean, who wouldn't want to do a paper on the "player-chasing" dynamic? You could do case studies on Pac-Man, GTA, etc.

      I know some people right now who are doing papers on game AI -- this would fit right in for a bibliography.
    • Re:Transient? (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "When my tax $$ goes to buying a book, i expect that the book will be used until it wears out. That is, there is no reason why a book that is bought today cannot be read 50 years from now. The technology needed for reading books is quite static."

      I know it seems that way because you have your books, and your books last, but in the library system any popular book lasting is really an anomaly.

      An ordinary paperback book will survive seven to ten readings from an average reader. A library bound copy of the sam
    • Re:Transient? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ink_13 ( 675938 )
      On the contrary: I am excited to have some kind of source where I will be able to legally dig up today's games 20 years from now. And not just the binaries... I expect libraries will also hold on the manuals. I think it's peachy that it's also free.

      Part of a library's purpose is to act as an archive, not just loan out material (it's arguable that loaning out material is a side benefit of having an archive of books, not the other way around). The only other place I know of archiving games in The Underdo

    • Re:Transient? (Score:3, Interesting)

      What you fail to realize is that a collection of books is just as transient. Titles don't go into a library collection and stay there forever.
      the book your tax dollars financed ten years ago served it's purpose and is probably gone now. This is especially true with popular fiction titles. More sholarly books tend to stick around, but generally, books that were popular 10 years ago don't get read now. so they go away to make room for what the public wants NOW. The same will be true with the console game
    • However, with video games, i see no reason to expect that games bought today will be used much even 5 years from now. Any consol games surely will be horribly out of date and few people will even own the consols anymore.

      Not necessarily. Indeed, the author's director asked this same question, leading the author to focus on the PS2. The PlayStation 1 is just about 10 years old now and its games easily played on widely available hardware (the PS2 or the budge PSone). By all reports the PS3 will emulate th

    • You assume that books don't wear out. They do. They get tossed in backpacks, thrown around, get bent by dozens of people. They wear out and have to be replaced.
  • (From TFA)
    family-friendly titles (Harry Potter, Hot Shots Golf, The Incredibles)

    Hot Shots Golf? Where you beat your caddy to play better?

  • sure, i remember a day when libraries had big dirty plastic bags with 5'1/4" floppies in em and hooks on top.. oregon trail, math munchers, all dat.

    a hundred years from now we STILL won't see half-life 2 on that shelf. thanks steam.
    • Yeah, but Half-Life 2 doesn't have any educational value. Sure, Oregon Trail let you pwn bison all day, but it was educational because it taught you that no man can carry more than 100 pounds of meat (or approximately 0.12 bison) back to the wagon in a day.

      • does 'where the sidwalk ends' have any direct educational value? or does the anarchist's cookbook for that matter have the kind of education you'd permit? both of them are in libraries.

        i beleive half-life2 will make for a cultural milestone to many, as we look back on how games have progressed. that alone makes it worth including in the library to me. going back to "in 100 years", it may well be a checkpoint on the evolutions of graphics and physics engines..

  • Given sufficient time and budget (laughable, I know), there's no reason why a library should limit inself to one particular system when major technical and artistic advances are being made on practically every platform.

    Also, given any kind of decent budget, there is no reason for games to become quickly obsolete. Simply pick up a few decent-condition used consoles after they fall out favor. If I can scrape up a near-mint SNES off of eBay for $25 it shouldn't be that hard to supply people with the hardwar
  • Why waste resources on libraries having the games when ultimately they will never have a decent collection and half of them will be damaged / destroyed due to them being loaned by morons (due to being essentially free)

    Netflix / bigpondmovies (aust) / (I think?) need an optional plan for gamers or to add games to your current plan (due to the value of a game,.. perhaps make it equivelant to borrowing 2 dvd's for 1 game?) etc

  • A problem I see with this is this: most "classic" games and ones that defined their era will require the library to have a copy of the parent system on hand. Sure, there's emulation, but that would be a legal nightmare to figure out. I would love to be able to let my kids play the "classic" games that I played when I was little, but I think it will be very hard with the copyright insanity we have going on recently.
  • What if the US government made emulation legal for systems 10 years or older for librarys ONLY. I know it will take legal fanageling, but it could be worth the trouble. I see no problem of offering an archive of all the NES games ever made and an emulator. That wouldn't be so bad, would it? I can see no PS2 emulators 'till 2011, but com'on: NES etc. is old.
  • List (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kernel_dan ( 850552 )
    Here's the list of games he chose: Alias
    ESPN NBA 2K5
    ESPN NFL 2K5
    ESPN NHL 2K5
    Finding Nemo
    Gradius V
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
    Hot Shots Golf Fore!
    The Incredibles
    Katamari Damacy
    Lord of the Rings: The Third Age
    Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
    Sonic Mega Collection Plus
    Spider-Man 2
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus
    Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005
    Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4
    Tony Hawk's Underground 2
    Van Helsing
    WWE Smackdown VS Raw

    Most of the games have
  • The Cleveland Public Library has been stocking software, including games, since the early 1990s.

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