I was just thinking about what else that public libraries could host as a service of information to the public. Libraries now serve books, CDs and DVDs, yet libraries still face budget cuts due to lower patronage in the Internet era.
What else can libraries offer that would be appreciated by the public?
I think video game discs and cartridges are the next big information medium that should be hosted at the library. Thankfully, just as I was starting on this post, I came across a CNN column from last year which stated the exact same thing.
But rather than the good-for-funding angle that Ruben Navarrette brings up in his column, I think that hosting video games would fulfill one of any public library’s core functions in the community: providing access to information by lowering the profit motive from the equation.
Granted, public libraries have been historically established to provide public access to knowledge, and they have done so (for all ages and levels of education). But at some point, fiction became a section of the typical library that was updated with ever more modern titles, and such titles are as entertaining as they are sources of knowledge (however trivial or vital they may be to the reader). Fiction media in the library was extended when films were donated on DVD and VHS to the typical library (for taking home or to watch in a private booth).
So why not extend the service of fiction media access in the library even further? Video games, as engaging of the body as they are, are also (often) works of fiction. From a cinematic standpoint, video games allow the player to be visually immersed in the story being depicted (as much as they fuse cinematics and visuals with ludological participation).
It would do for the fusion of cinematic and ludological entertainment what the earliest public libraries did for book-bound knowledge: take out the profit-making wall from the bridge between the public and the information which they seek to consume. Libraries can provide access to these works of “fiction” without the profit motive.
Libraries don’t have to specifically focus on physical books, and neither do they need to chuck those books from the shelves. Books, eBooks, PCs, CDs, DVDs, Video game discs – they can all coexist in a venue built for the people’s sensory fulfillment.
Let’s have more video games and video gaming rooms in public libraries.