Thursday, January 31, 2013

Video Games and the Library?!?!

Recently I came upon a news story on Facebook asking people their thoughts on a local New Jersey library banning violent video games being played on their computers. Children were apparently logging onto the internet at the library and playing games like Call of Duty. When I began to read the comments I realized that most of them were people angry at how the library would think that video games are the cause for violence in children. I could not believe the reaction from these people, many of them parents and I'm sure some of them teens or young adults.

Let me start by saying, I myself enjoy video games. When I play action games, which tend to be violent, I enjoy the stress relief of beating the hell out of digital creations. But, I am far from a violent person. I've played video games my entire life and I've never once cause physical harm to another or even considered it.

But the violence of the games is not where my issue lies in this. What angers me is the knowledge that libraries allow people to play any games at all, other than those that may be educational. When I was growing up the library was where you went to find books that would take you to another land OR to research a project for school. When we used the computers it was either to look through the digital card catalog (though when I was much younger there was no such thing) or to do online research for projects. I don't remember there even being a way to play games on their computers.

When did the library stop becoming a place for education and enrichment? Library is defined as "a place set apart to contain books, periodicals, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study, or reference, as a room, set of rooms, or building where books may be read or borrowed." Where in there does it say: to play video games? I don't care if you're playing Call of Duty or Toejam and Earl (yes, we're going way back now!), the library is not the place to be playing them. Isn't that what arcades are for? I bring my child to the library to take out books and it excites her to get 5 or 6 (or 10) more to take home and enjoy each night before bed.

It's no wonder so many kids of today don't understand what a good book can do for you. It's no wonder they consider it boring to read for fun. Our lives are ever changing with the constant introduction of new technology, but does that really mean we have to stray from what was once so amazing and wonderful? I myself will allow my child to play video games (nonviolent, she's only a preschooler) BUT she will learn the value of a good book.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Treatment of Books

There's only one thing I hate more than getting back a dirty, scratched DVD after lending it to someone...dirty library books. I know this sounds strange, but it's something I've noticed more and more as a mother who brings her 4 year old to the library frequently. People just don't respect books, especially when they're property of the library.

When I take my daughter to the library we peruse the shelves and pick out the most interesting books authored by some of our favorites (always at least one of the Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems). We normally leave with 6-8 books for her and one or two for myself that I quickly choose after looking through the new books section. (The adult books are upstairs, and when you have a child with you there's not much time for quality book searching.) I don't normally leaf through the pages before we check out and head home, but I'm starting to wonder if I should.

On many occasions, as we're settling down to read one of our finds on the couch or before nap time, we open the pages of a brand new world of discovery to find food/drink stains or smelly pages. When my daughter asks what's wrong, I remind her that some people just don't respect books as much as we do in our home. We get past it and read ourselves into a story that has her imagining a new world with these amazing characters, though in the back of my mind I can't help but be annoyed.

Why is it okay to damage the property of others? When you're part of a public library you have a world of books at your fingertips, ready to borrow for approximately three weeks and enjoy. But during that three weeks, that book is not actually yours. Someone else will take it out to read and have to deal with your soda spill, pancake syrup, etc.

Some may reply to this post and say, "It's a kids book. Kids are messy." Yes, children are messy and sticky and always snacking. But I have a child. And even at the age of 4 she knows there's no eating or drinking while looking at her books; it doesn't matter if we own them or they're from the library. You treat a book the way it should be treated so you or someone else can enjoy it time and time again.

For all the fines there are for returning a book late or not picking up reserved materials, how about leafing through the books when they're returned and fining for damage?