Friday, 8 April 2011

Ding! Levelling up at the library

I've been reading quite a bit lately about gamification of libraries, and I think it's an interesting concept. Although I'm mostly a casual gamer and occasional World of Warcraft player, I've got a tendency to get hooked on achievment hunting, so am well aware of the goal-reward system in action. Even in it the very simple format of a loyalty card at Costa Coffee or wherever, the presence of a reward is clearly going to encourage people to use a service more. (I know I've been heard to say "no actually, let's go to Nandos for lunch, I only need 3 more stamps until I get a WHOLE CHICKEN free!" They're definitely getting a lot more custom out of me by giving me an incentive)

Games and cake, definite reward. (by Fays cakes)
The next question is how could this work in libraries? Andy Woodworth has suggested a similar type of idea to the Nandos loyalty card, where users were given a reward such as a giftcard to use at the library's cafe on their nth checkout. Brian Herzog has an interesting suggestion based on a new Swedish speed limit system where those obeying the law are rewarded by being entered in a lottery to win a share of the revenue from fines. That clearly could translate to library fines, which is what Brian proposes. Both Andy and Brian's "games" reward the kind of behaviour librarians like to encourage, and I can see both going down pretty well with students on induction tours!

So I suppose I should suggest my own library "game"! How about this (and I have no idea if this is even possible): a game along the lines of foursquare, where "check-ins" are rewarded. In this game, instead checking into physical places, each time you used one of the library's online resources you would get points/badges. There would be a reward for people using a wide variety of sources for their research, and maybe for spending a certain number of hours logged into the resources. There are holes in that, but it's just a rough suggestion of what kind of thing we could do! Would be interested to hear other people's thoughts on the concept of gamifying libraries.

More on this:
Brian Herzog, Gamify Your Library Fines
Chad Boeninger, What if libraries gave users achievements?
Andy Woodworth, 1Up @ Your Library 

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