International Games Day is a chance to celebrate games, libraries, and the communities that both help to create and sustain with other library-lovers around the world. On Saturday, November 16, people all over the planet will join together to celebrate the mutually-reinforcing power of play and learning.

Now in its 6th year, International Games Day @ your library hits a new landmark. We have already visited every settled continent on Earth. This year, the community of players that the day creates will stretch as far as the library of remote Casey Station in Antarctica - and they will be playing in a game that your library will have the chance to join in. How often do you get to participate in an activity that is touching the wilds of the frozen South? That's the power of play.

What is International Games Day?

Basically, it's just a date when a whole bunch of libraries all over the world agree to play games in a spirit of co-operation. 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 roleplaying games, online videogame tournaments that span North America, and social games that travel the entire world over the course of the day.

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:  
2012    2011    2010    2009   

How does a library participate?

All a library has to do to be part of International Games Day @ your library 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, on or around Saturday November 16.

Then just register (for free!) at That will put the library on our map of participating libraries (please note that there may be a delay of a couple of weeks as our volunteers de-duplicate the data and import it into the map).

More information for libraries about the day is available at, with a library-focused blog updated weekly at There are also a range of promotional materials available for libraries to use at - these are available free and can be modified and remixed as your local library's needs dictate.

Finally, all participating libraries in North America and Scandinavian countries will be eligible for free sponsor-donated games which they can keep for their permanent collections, and every library the world over will have free access to GameTable Online for the day.

How can game-lovers participate?

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

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 the day. If they don't, tell them it's super-easy - and free! - to participate. Then give them this link ( and the address for the library-focused blog (, 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 - libraries are always strapped for time and resources, because we always want to give our users more opportunities :) - and you are feeling motivated, all is not lost. If 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 Day! If the library can assist with a little staff presence, or some snacks, or other support, that's a bonus.

Map of participating libraries

Why games in libraries?

Libraries are about sharing culture and information, and games are a form of culture that you often have to share - you can't experience them without another player! They're 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, 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. For more discussion of these issues, there is some further reading here.

Plus, clearly our communities find value in games! See the comments from past IGDs 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?”

International Games Day is an initiative of the American Library Association to connect communities around the educational, recreational, and social value of all types of games.

Additional Resources:

- Libraries Got Game (PDF)

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

For Board Game Groups:

Go to your local library with this information and find out if they’re participating in International Gaming Day @ your library. 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.

Board Game groups with questions should contact Scott Nicholson at

Librarians – want to get your library involved?  Learn more at

From AL Focus, watch a teen gaming tournament at Oak Park (Ill.) Public Library, with an interview with Young Adult Librarian Monica Harris, who explains why and how the library got into gaming and the benefits it offers the library and the community.

Also from AL Focus, see scenes from the ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium in Oak Brook, Illinois, November 2-4. Of particular interest is Eli Neiburger's story, beginning at 2:58.

Why is the American Library Association promoting gaming in libraries?

1. Aren’t libraries about books and reading?

In the 21st century, libraries are about much more than books! In fact, libraries work very hard to provide people of all ages with a rich and current menu of CDs and DVDs, as well as electronic and online resources. Video game resources and programs at the library complement these existing services. Featuring this new gaming media helps the library expand its reach while meeting community expectations.

2. Aren’t video games just a passing fad?

Actually, video games have been popular for more than 30 years. In fact, three generations have grown up with video games - Generation X, Generation Y, and Millennials. It’s not only today’s kids who are playing video games. The average age of today’s gamer is 35-years old, and Baby Boomers and Seniors are playing them more than ever before. Libraries across the country are offering family gaming nights that bring generations together for a gaming experience they can’t share anywhere else.

3. Why should kids play video games at the library?

Lots of kids play video games at home – alone, with siblings, or with friends. The library is a safe and non-commercialized space. At the library, kids socialize with their friends and play video games while surrounded by books, librarians, and knowledge. Video gaming at the library encourages young patrons to interact with diverse peers, share their expertise with others (including adults), and develop new strategies for gaming and learning.

4. How do librarians choose video games that are appropriate for our kids?

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) has established criteria for rating video games. In 2008, 85% of the video games sold were rated “EC” (Early Childhood), “E” (Everyone), “E10+” (Everyone 10 and older), or “T” (Teens ages 13 and older).

These games are available to libraries and are considered “family friendly.” In addition to using the ESRB to guide game selection, librarians do extensive research about the recommended games and play them before they are introduced to kids. Games recommended for use in libraries often have a more social component that brings people together around the content, making the whole experience more fun when played with others.

5. What do kids learn when they play games at the library?

Video games give kids a chance to practice reading, writing, and computing in the library’s safe environment. Popular video games, the ones that kids really like to play, are immediately engaging and make them work hard to succeed and ‘level up’. While playing these games, kids are constantly developing new strategies, predicting possible outcomes, managing multiple resources, reading and deciphering maps, tracking complex statistics, and adapting to increasingly difficult levels within the game. They learn a range of media literacies beyond basic reading that give them models for navigating our information-rich world.