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Houston Public Library: Gaming

Houston Public Library

Problem Statement

Video games are a type of media that libraries have traditionally not provided access to. As these games become a vital part of our culture, children and teens need access to the technology. Video games are not just games but complete stories within themselves that deserve respect just as much as the stories contained in books do. How do we give children and teens in the Houston area access on a permanent basis and break the barrier of haves and have-nots?


Central Library circulates games and controllers for use on 6 Nintendo Wii, 50 DSi and 6 Sony Playstation 3 platforms. Children and their parents are allowed to play during all of the hours the Central Library is open. Our teen gaming was so popular we had to restrict play to after 2:30 on school days. We have a wide and current array of games for each platform available for our customers to choose from. Children are limited to games rated E and E-10 and Teens can play E, E-10, and T rated games. The teen area is also restricted to teens ages 13 to 18 years old.


Our solution has resulted in the checkout of 26,395 controllers in 22 months and 931 Nintendo DSi’s in 5 months. The Central Library has become a destination for families. Parents and children play together happily. Teens will ride the bus an hour and a half to come to the library. We have a community in our teen area that has built up around video gaming. They talk, help each other, and have built lasting friendships. The model created at Central has proven itself at 2 neighborhood libraries as well.