Each year people all over the planet join together during International Games Week to celebrate the mutually-reinforcing power of play and learning at libraries around the world.

What is International Games Week?

It’s the week that libraries all over the world agree to play games in a spirit of cooperation. The games can be anything the library and community in question likes: previously, libraries have hosted "learn to play chess" days, board games, card games, trivia games, tabletop role playing games, and video game tournaments that span the world.

But this description doesn't come close to doing it justice. Here are some reports on actual previous days - read these and see why it's such an amazing event.

How does a library participate?

All a library has to do to be part of International Games Week is host some sort of games-related activity, which can be as simple or as elaborate as you are inspired and able to make it during or near the week of the event.

Then just register (for free!) on the Games in Libraries blog here.

More information about games in libraries and International Games Week is available on the Games in Libraries Blog. There are also a range of promotional materials available for libraries to use. These materials are free and can be modified and remixed as your local library's needs dictate.

How can game-lovers participate?

First, check if your local library is running the event either by asking them or by looking on the IGW map.

If they are, great! Just RSVP, and if you're feeling really motivated ask if there's anything you can do to help, other than just turn up and have fun.

If not, contact them and ask if they know about this event. If they don't, tell them it's super-easy - and free! - to participate. Then give them this link (http://games.ala.org/international-games-week/) and tell them you would love to participate in this global celebration of libraries if they can organize an event.

If they can't, which is quite possible and you are willing to get together a group of your friends to share games with other library users, that is more than enough to make the library eligible to register! Just ask the library staff if they would mind you using the library space in this way - which is perfectly acceptable in most library spaces - and if they say they don't mind, ask them to register their library as a venue. That's it! You're playing in International Games Week! If the library can assist with a little staff presence, or some snacks, or other support, that's a bonus.

Why games in libraries?

We all know that libraries are about sharing culture and information. Well, games are a form of culture that you often have to share - you can't experience them without another player.

They are also good for the brain, and foster important life skills like socialization, theory of mind and systems literacy.

Games have been around for as long as human culture has - Prof. Johan Huizinga in his book Homo ludens described the play instinct as an essential part of what enabled humans to develop culture in the first place, and the earliest known book of history in the Western canon, Herodotus's Histories, describes games keeping the ancient Lydian civilization together through 18 years of grinding famine.

Plus, they're fun!

Whether videogames, tabletop games, social games or other kinds of games, games are a part of culture whose importance is only becoming clearer with time. And that means we need to foster the kind of smart engagement libraries support for games as well as books.

What's more, clearly our communities find value in games! See the comments from past events below:

  • “There were boys waiting outside for the library to open! …We had more boys in the library at one time… than I have seen in my eleven years working here.”
  • “Some of the things I overheard this year: 'I didn't know the library was this cool!', 'Can we do this every month?', 'Do we have to leave?', 'I love my life!' "
  • “Where else would you find such a mix of ages interacting and having a fun time? In a family, of course, but none of these people were related... it was just a cross section of the community.”
  • “We had an 80 year old senior who comes to play Wii bowling with other seniors on Friday mornings.  Some teens challenged her to a game of Wii bowling…and she WON!”
  • “This was definitely a thumbs-up day!”
  • “It was awesome to see the teenagers playing games with the younger children.”
  • “Great idea to get people involved with the library!”
  •  “My favorite part of the day had to be hearing the teens cheer for each other during the Brawl contests and clap at the end of the battles. They all got along so well, even though we had quite a range of ‘teenagers’ – 8 to 18!”
  • “The program helped to give parents ideas on ways to become more involved with their children.”
  • “It was wonderful to see adults and children playing together.”
  • "When I peeked into the room, I was surprised to see that all of the teens were--at one point in time at least--playing the board games rather than video games."
  • “This is the coolest day! The library is awesome.”
  • “You guys rock this is fun. When can we do it again?”

For Game Groups:

Check out http://games.ala.org/get-involved/gamers/ - then go to your local library with this information and find out if they’re participating in International Games Week. If the library’s staff isn’t aware of it, offer to host a board game event or provide staff support to help.  Your participation in this one-day activity can lead to future board game events at the library as well.

Have more questions about International Gaming Week? Fill out the Contact Us form, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

International Games Week is an initiative of the American Library Association in collaboration with the Australian Library & Information Association, Associazione Italiana Biblioteche, and Nordic Game Week to connect communities around the educational, recreational, and social value of all types of games

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