Your local library has games...for free??

Over the course of the pandemic I got HEAVY into using my local library for books. Libraries……they're sick as hell?? You can grab a volume of Berserk, a Pure Moods CD, and a Le Guin poetry book? Holy shit.

Local libraries opened back up for browsing recently so I went down to my local branch and found video games! None of the various libraries I went to growing up had games so this is very new for me. The selection was pretty small but I saw some interesting stuff in there.

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Nintendo part of the shelf had some heavy hitters. Mario Odyssey, a real Pokemon, a Wii copy of The Force Unleashed. If I had a Wii U I would check out that Kirby Canvas Curse sequel extremely hard, I loved that game. This section def seems catered to kids but you know, there are some jams here.

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Second part of the shelf was PS4 and none of this is super exciting to me BUT I will say that it's pretty rad that someone could come here and get active multiplayer games like BFV or big open world games like Horizon. It is kind of a boring selection though, no one is going to really discover that they're into anything weird if they're looking at these. Maybe RE7.

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Last part of the shelf has some big boys on it. The PS3 section is funny to me as it's a collection of direct sequels, bad action games, a Fast and Furious game, and last-gen ports of PS4 games. Honestly kinda curious what that Alien Isolation looks like on a PS3. That 360 section though. That has some beautiful games. Skate 2 shreds super hard and of course the IC classic:

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My overall impressions are 1. yeah this mostly tracks with what I'd expect from a very small library branch and 2. it's an incredible own on most video games that they're mostly marked as YA. I bet other Oakland libraries have a lot more, and I'm going to find them and post about them here. Then again, all libraries might be full of old sports games and FPS stuff. Genuinely shocked to see Deadly Premonition here though, a really welcome surprise. Love to imagine someone checking it out and falling in love.

My mission for you at home:

  • 1. Go to your local library.
  • 2. Go to the video game section, take pictures, and analyze your city's video game taste.
  • ||3. Check out a book while you're there.||

    Heck yeah! I'm a public librarian and try to make sure my library is an awesome resource. We only have a the barest few video games but we do have a number of cool game related books. But when nobody checks them out, it becomes hard to justify continuing to grow that portion of the collection. Even if you just let someone on staff know that you appreciate that part of the collection, it goes a long way towards encouraging a library to get more game-stuff!

    Also if anyone's local library doesn't have games, try asking a reference librarian. They might be able to tell you what other libraries in the area have games. You'll probably also be able to request copies to be sent to your library via the online catalog.

    I wish I had a photo of the game selection at the University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign (where I went for my undergrad and master's) undergrad library between 2008-2014 because they had the most phenomenal selection. I swear, the person that cultivated it must have been an IC forum member. They had multiple copies of games from Cavia, Atlus, Grasshopper, Platinum, imports from Cave, games like Cave Story 3D, The Dark Spire, Bangai-o Spirits, 999 and Radiant Historia (before they had a reprint). It was just plain awesome. Libraries rule.

    @“Southeastpaw”#p40433 yeah that sounds like a person From Here if I ever saw one.

    This is a fun selection! I want to check out my local branch now... I wonder if they take donations too?

    Former (full time) game journalist, freshly certified librarian and archivist, one who will be specializing in video games here:

    My ultimate goal is to contribute towards game preservation, especially since (and this is for another topic, but) a considerable portion of work that is currently underway is, how shall we say, somewhat suspect and even problematic... though being fresh out of grad school, I’ll take whatever job I can get. And being knowledgeable with video games is definitely appealing to those staffing for youth services.

    Anyhow, now is perhaps the perfect time to state how my wife, herself a librarian (she was the one who noticed all the work I was doing into seeking/collecting/researching game culture artifacts & said: “you know, what you’re doing is pretty much exactly what librarians & archivists are doing, just saying) not long ago got into an argument with a VERY FAMOUS VIDEO GAME PERSON on Facebook (whom I was connected with, but no longer).

    Said individual went on a tirade about how folks borrowing games from libraries were playing games that he she blood, sweat, and tears over, but “for free”, and thus food was being literally ripped out of his children's mouths. Yes, he was that dramatic. When my wife rightly stated that the games had bought and paid for by the library and associated institutions, as well as whole the institution as a whole is on the biggest spenders of IP (encompassing books, magazines, movies, etc) in the nation, said VERY FAMOUS VIDEO GAME PERSON WHO HAS PRODUCED TITLES THAT EVERY SINGLE PERSON HERE HAS PLAYED, I AM WILLING TO BET MONEY ON said some more nonsense before deleting it all and unfriending/blocking me.

    It’s a good thing I saved screencaps! I’ll also be quoting her verbatim when the opportunity allows, I.e. a scholarly paper or textbook P.S. I am more than happy to divulge this person’s identity, but only via PM.

    We have been doing the summer reading program which has been bringing back all kinds of nostalgia of converting pages read into novelty erasers, stickers and pencils. The prizes the library is giving out this summer are kinda baffling though, a free kids meal at Benihana??

    My kid already has been keeping an eye out for Pokemon manga and trying to borrow a hard copy of the Zelda lore book, so if our library has video games I'm sure she will be interested. I'm going to check this weekend.

    Went in to my library to pick up Death and Co. and Use of Weapons. Also came home with Miles Morales because I happened to walk by a shelf of video games. Felt pretty smug.

    Also, open world action games really aren't my bag, but it's dope as hell to hold down the Square button and dive towards the pavement before swinging back up to the sky again.

    @“sabertoothalex”#p40429 yeah, libraries do own

    Once my city is out of its current pandemic-induced lockdown (which I have no problem with (only 7 more days hopefully)) I'll go visit my local and see if they have a games section.

    Reminds me that I have not been to the main city-run large public library in quite a while, other than for seminars or other events. I should go give that a good browse again also.

    @“exodus”#p40439 Looks like they do!

    I also have a stack of games I'd rather donate to them than try to sell. Who will be the first to check out FFVII Remake...?

    Holy smokes!

    Deadly Premonition has XBOX LIVE features?

    If I'd known this was a thing, when I had a slew of epic games that didn't sell for over $10 apiece, I would have donated to the library immediately. I would love to see Dark Souls on the library shelf.

    Spent so many days of my life in the library. I was a homeless teen, after all. I'd stay till closing every day after school.

    Seeing Mario Odysssey on the shelf is nice. That will help with my Nintendo boycott.

    Before I got electricity from solar set up on my van, I was living in it with no electricity for about 6 months, and, was listening to AM radio and reading tons of library manga every day! Read tons of original Astro Boy, all of jojos part 1-4, one piece, ah my goddess, reread yu-gi-oh (and realized how dumb it was), delicious in dungeon, tons of stuff.

    unfortunately, one of my dearest friends was laid off from her librarian job of 8 years due to covid layoffs. she has two kids dammit!

    Full time library paraprofessional here, we actually have a pretty robust video game collection that is just growing more and more! I snapped a few photos of what is about half of the adult collection, so about a fourth of what we have total. We are lagging a bit on getting the PS5/Series X games, but plan to add a whole bunch pretty soon…[upl-image-preview url=//]

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    Also I have to use this opportunity to plug the Interlibrary Loan service at your local library. If your library doesn't have a thing and you're in the US, you probably actually have access to it through the many free lending libraries on interlibrary loan systems. Seriously, we can get almost anything in print, English or otherwise, definitely ask about that service if you want niche things.

    Damn that is a sick selection!!! The illegal Cooking Mama game! 13 Sentinels! Daemon x Machina! There‘s so much there I’d check out.

    And yeah I really gotta ask about the library's ability to get stuff that's not currently in their system. Quite a few books at this point that I'd like to see if they could get somewhere.

    With game rentals not being a thing anymore, i‘m glad that libraries have a good selection of games, especially for kids that would usually only have access to 1 or 2 games a year!

    I mean they have a lot of free to play games now, but it’s really nice that they can also experience a wider variety of things!

    btw, for how long do you get to keep a game after you take it from the library?


    It probably varies by system, but for us I know it's three weeks, plus longer if no one has a hold on it after it would be due. For some stuff its perfect but I have found it to often not be _quite_ as long as I would ideally have it. That's the free stuff trade off though, I guess.

    @“SkeletonCounter”#p40592 y'all should get the digital eclipse collections in there, since thse are kinda library-like in themselves! Also I just want to see games I worked on in a library.

    Boo no games at the library we visit the most these days. Tons of DVDs though. I'm not planning on actually borrowing any I just wanted to take a look at a bunch of games on a shelf.

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    From another Oakland library branch! The most intriguing game in this group for me is [The Kore Gang](, a third person action platformer thing that apparently took 10 years to come out?? It was supposed to be an original Xbox exclusive but eventually became Wii only.

    And of course you can check our Breath of the Wild for free, a utopian thing if ever there was one.

    Feeling like a capital-letter Ignoramous for forgetting to UNLOCK my DVD CASES from the LIBRARY

    Are games ever put in those magnetic lock cases? I don't remember seeing any

    i work at a university library and while we don‘t carry any games (or any gaming books really, as the catalog is catered towards academia), i’m always encouraging people to take the ten minute drive to the county library to open get a library card (which i actually need to renew lol). the website interface is terrible, but being able to request materials (like video games!) from other public libraries in the state is a godsend and nowadays, library memberships come with free access to websites such as hoopla (and i believe a few of the major city libraries even include access to the criterion channel now).

    tl;dr - libraries are dope. go get a library card for your local library if you haven't yet