Video game

Free Library adds video games to its catalog –

As of this week, the library isn’t just for book lovers and movie buffs. People can now check out video games, too. 

The Free Library of Philadelphia has added games for PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch consoles at all 54 branches, and they can be borrowed for up to three weeksHundreds of titles are available in its catalogue, and they can be renewed up to 10 times — as long as no one else has requested them.  

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I think gamers can have a lot to use and benefit from at the library, and so I’m really looking forward to bringing in new people,” said Kris Langlais, material selector for video games and DVDs at the library. “For folks who are already using the library regularly, I think that this will just add a lot of value to their experience of being at the library, too.”

The library has long offered movies, e-books and audiobooks from its collections and streaming service Kanopy. But this is the first time Philadelphia’s libraries will let borrowers take home video games. Langlais said librarians have been advocating to add video games for a long time, and they have been working on this project for the past year. 

To select the games, Langlais and their team put out a list of titles they thought would be appealing to gamers and sent it to neighborhood libraries. From there, librarians at branches across the city could select what materials they thought might be popular with their patrons. That way, branches could lean in to types of games that worked in their community. (Branches that had a lot of family visitors, for example, might have more kids games.) 

“[Getting] community input so that the collection reflects what the patrons who are coming into the space want, I think that’s a really great way to do it,” Langlais said. 

Langlais also is monitoring upcoming release dates for new games to add to the catalog. 

So far, it’s been a hit. Some branches received their video games early last week, and Langlais said only about 10 games were left from a shelf of 50 at the Teen Center at Parkway Central Library.

Libraries across the country added video games to their catalogues over the past few years, in part to help lower the cost of gaming. Langlais noted that at this time, the library isn’t providing consoles, so they can’t remove the cost completely. But they hope this allows players to step outside their comfort zones. 

“If they’re used to playing action or fighting games and they want to dip their toe into a role-playing game, they might be able to do that and it’s not going to be a risk to their wallet,” Langlais said. “They can just try it at the library and then they might end up really liking a type of game that they never would have gotten to before.” 


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