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Subject: Recommendations for circulating board games at public library rss

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Allyson Evans
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Maryland
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Greetings gamers!

I'm trying something a bit revolutionary, and I'd love your advice.

I'm a new YA Librarian at a public library in Maryland, and I'd like to bring one of my long-time dreams to life: catalog board games at the library and offer them up for circulation to the public. We do this with video games already (since they're like DVDs and easy to shelve, process and store), but the board game argument took some convincing.

Now it's stage 2: with no budget, I need to somehow amass a board game collection to complete this project and show my branch manager how serious I was. I plan to donate about five or six games I have at home (Scrabble, Would You Rather...?, Agricola, Bang, Puerto Rico), but need suggestions for what else to add.

No public library in Maryland is circulating board games from what I could find, so I'm very excited to get started.

I very much appreciate any suggestions you all might have, from the kinds of games to circulate to how to keep track of the pieces. Thanks!

____

In a related question, if any of you are aware of a place to find loved-but-no-longer-needed games looking for a new life, please let me know. :)
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Josh Edwards
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I think that my biggest recommendation would be to have mostly games in which losing pieces doesn't seriously affect gameplay. For example, if you lose half of the pieces in Apples to Apples, it is still completely playable, whereas if you lose half the pieces to a lot of other games, then they are useless. And, for games that aren't quite this flexible, you might consider games that don't have terribly many pieces (like Citadels or Resistance), and then include an inventory checklist. I don't know if this would actually work or not, but ideally, the people checking out the game would check the inventory before returning it assuming it was easy to do and not too time consuming. If not, at least you could check it without wasting an hour.

I'm interested to see how successful this is for you - please keep us posted!
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That Guy
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Where in Maryland are you working? AA County, I hope?

This sounds like a great way to introduce the public to games that they wouldn't otherwise play.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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This sounds like an administrative nightmare. Will there be any process to verify completeness on check out/in? Will anyone besides you be able to do it? Will there be any fees for missing pieces? Will people have to sign an agreement for each game?
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Jay I
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I agree with the losing pieces part. I am a member at a local gaming club with over 400 members and over 1000 games that are available for members to borrow from the library. These games take a lot of wear and tear, and these are gamers playing the games, not the general public. They get played more than anything in your personal collection, and nobody will take care of your games the way you do.

Thrift stores are a good place to stock up on inexpensive (and usually not very good) games. I'd suggested hitting a couple, and grabbing what you can assuming you have any budget at all.
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Jesse Hickle
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My wife is a public librarian, and she had some success with contacting publishers about possibly donating to the libraries. Some went into the collection, others were given out as prizes for participating in the summer reading program. You might try that, and I'd also recommend looking at the library gaming toolkit for some other resources. Good luck!
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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I would also baulk at having to check a game like Agricola on return. If it's not checked before being lent out again, then the new borrower cannot be held to account for missing or damaged components.

So I would look for games with easy rules, few components, or generic replacable components (cubes). I would avoid anything with decks of cards, and baggies of specialist pieces, as they'd have to be counted. For Scrabble, you'd have to check that the correct mix of letters was still there.

But persevere. We have a collection of 500 games in our club and loan games to members. Mostly, damage or missing components are identified and replaced, but we have had games taken and not returned. But the club members use the games at family events, and the potential for impact is very high.

One suggestion is that you weigh the game when it leaves. I'm serious. If you have an accurate digital scale, and weigh the game when you prepare it for lending, then simply weighing it will tell you if there's significant loss. A change of a few grams would show that it needed to be checked.

You probably will want to laminate rules, or rather, keep the originals in archive and put repros in the games.

I will try to add some more, but have a look at these.

Hive Easy to play, to check.
Take it Easy! Likewise.
Tikal Lots of wooden pieces easy to replace, only some big tiles to count. Replacing temple tiles can be done in house (they don't affect game play if you make your own).
Scotland Yard Only the tickets, the board, and the hidden frame are important.

EDIT: You might gain from talking to a toy library. Obviously, board games differ from toys, but they may have experiences or ideas that relate to the way borrowers behave, and could save you making the same mistakes.
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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curtc wrote:
Will people have to sign an agreement for each game?


Nope. When you register at a lending library, you agree to pay for any loss or damage to what you borrow. You don't have to sign an agreement when you take a book out. If it's on the shelf, you can assume the librarian has checked it is in a fit state to loan. If you bring it back damaged, they notice.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
When you register at a lending library, you agree to pay for any loss or damage to what you borrow. You don't have to sign an agreement when you take a book out.

In the absolute sense, I don't disagree, but I just wonder about the scenario where someone returns Agricola with one card missing and they are told, "that will be $50". And of course that will happen with not infrequent regularity. I can't even get people who borrow my games to put everything back in the box when they're done, and those are friends, and doesn't involve transporting the game anywhere.
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Kamille
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Hello Allyson,

first of all, this is an idea of great value.

In Germany it is quite usual the Libary offers Board games to borrow. Board Games are Cultural Goods. I dont get the point of missing pieces. What to expect from the public people? Those materials wear off by using like a book gets a fold on a page. They get used and People enjoy them. The Reason for they were invented. Also most of the publishers offer services for missing pieces. So there is almost always a way to replace a missing, lost or broken piece. Im always happy and thankfull to get the ONE missing piece replaced if its necessary and really lost or broken. Sad is that there are Humans exploit and capitalize services like that to get more as they really need.

Here in Berlin we have a Ludothek. It´s a Video Rent Club for Board Games. To rent games to take out of the Spielwiese, you will need a membership card, which you can get for free. On your first visit you need to bring along your EU identity card or passport including proof of residence, otherwise you will have to provide a deposit of the value of a new game/replacement of the same type, so you can take the game home. If you bring back a Game and there are missing or broken pieces you have to pay a fee to replace the whole game or the missing parts. Almost the same like in a public Libary.

But back to Topic.

I suggest to focus on awardwinning all time classic Board Games and Family Games first. Also Games especially for Kids. Like the SDJ Winners and other famous BG Prices. For example Games like Kindgom Builder, Settlers of Catan and a Bunch of HABA Games for Kids. Nothing like Agricola. Games Everyone can easily learn and play. No too geeky stuff. I also would make an advertisement and talk to the Guests of the Libary what kind of games they would like to borrow in the Libary. Bring your idea to live.

best regards
Hessi

PS: I apologize for my grammar. modest
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Ralph T
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A game like Ticket To Ride--some pieces go missing, it is not a game breaker.

I'd look at Tanga for potential games because they are very cheap.
 
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curtc wrote:
EYE of NiGHT wrote:
When you register at a lending library, you agree to pay for any loss or damage to what you borrow. You don't have to sign an agreement when you take a book out.

In the absolute sense, I don't disagree, but I just wonder about the scenario where someone returns Agricola with one card missing and they are told, "that will be $50". And of course that will happen with not infrequent regularity. I can't even get people who borrow my games to put everything back in the box when they're done, and those are friends, and doesn't involve transporting the game anywhere.


Clearly, a book has all the pages bound, and a CD/DVD has one or two discs inside the package, and a boardgame potentially has dozens of key components that affect game play if mislaid even by accident. But if the borrower has the understanding that they are liable for damage, and the lender makes it clear that in the case of games that includes bits missing that render the game unplayable, then yes, "that will be $50" seems acceptable. If I returned a £50 book with pages torn out, I'd be expected to pay £50. So, no, they wouldn't have to sign an agreement, but maybe asking if they agree to the terms for lending boardgames, and point out the cost of replacement in case of lost bits, would be enough. The borrower would recognise their greater responsibilty and liability and so should take more care.

In the UK, public lending libraries charge fees for CDs and DVDs. I can well see a library taking a deposit on a more fragile asset.

Most people that enter a library are close enough to middle class to know how to respect things. It's their kids I'd be bothered about. My expectation is that the game would be missing a card or two, but about 70% of the components would be scattered on Junior's floor. Which is why I'd go for component-light games.

In any case, we're arguing an abstract. Let the OP tell us in a year's time the real results.
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Pickomino Some dice and some strong plastic tiles to count.
Sushizock im Gockelwok Likewise and a better game in my view.
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While certainly a noble idea, I have to agree with others who said it'd be a nightmare to check them in and out; lost and damaged pieces galore.

Perhaps you could have gaming days at the library instead.
Our local does this and it works fairly well.
They have about 35 games (link to list of games) and also have some of the consoles with various games.
They typically have a focus or theme each month, like this month was somewhat focused on family games with the consoles, but everything is always available.

Loss, damage, and theft (sadly) will happen, but it's a bit easier to deal with and control when the games don't leave the premises.

I'd be happy to get you contact info for our coordinator if you like, just mail me.
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Allyson Evans
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Admje14 wrote:
I think that my biggest recommendation would be to have mostly games in which losing pieces doesn't seriously affect gameplay.


Thank you - that's a really simple (but brilliant) observation that we hadn’t thought of before. And I will certainly be in touch to let everyone know how it's going.
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Allyson Evans
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mishapop wrote:
Where in Maryland are you working? AA County, I hope?

This sounds like a great way to introduce the public to games that they wouldn't otherwise play.


No, not AA. I know one of the Branch Managers in AA though, so if this works, I’ll encourage them to try it.

I hope it's a good way to expose high-level gaming to the public. Our area lacks serious gaming stores, so we're limited to what the big box stores happen to carry (which is often not too exciting, innovative or thoughtful).
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Allyson Evans
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curtc wrote:
This sounds like an administrative nightmare. Will there be any process to verify completeness on check out/in?


I agree with you completely.

You bet it would be a nightmare for our circulation staff if I asked them to verify pieces as the games came back in. That’s why I’m not asking them to: I would have lost the battle with our Circulation Supervisor otherwise.

To figure out a way around that mess, I contacted out-of-state libraries that circulate board games and asked them how they handle it. Unintuitively, perhaps, the most successful ones use the honor system. We almost have no choice but to go with that. Plus, I tend to side with the optimists. If it doesn’t work, then at least we tried.

curtc wrote:
Will there be any fees for missing pieces? Will people have to sign an agreement for each game?


As a public library, we don't charge the full replacement cost for missing items, only the cost of the damaged part. For example, if you lose one CD in a 14-CD audio book set, we charge you a $10 replacement cost for just that one CD, not the whole $49.99 MSRP.

For board games, I'm likely to be even more lenient. If essential pieces go missing, I might just find a duplicate game for replacement parts, free of charge to the poor kid who lost the piece. Heck, I might even try to fashion a fake piece myself and stick it back in the box. I guess it depends on the situation.

If, however, they damage the entire game beyond repair or simply never return the game, they will be assessed its replacement cost. That's true of any materials we have (books, video games, DVDs, etc).

No one will have to sign an agreement - they did that when they were issued their library cards.
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Allyson Evans
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destro wrote:
I agree with the losing pieces part. I am a member at a local gaming club with over 400 members and over 1000 games that are available for members to borrow from the library. These games take a lot of wear and tear, and these are gamers playing the games, not the general public. They get played more than anything in your personal collection, and nobody will take care of your games the way you do.


You're right, of course. At the same time, if our games are used so much to the point where they show a lot of wear and tear, I think I'll feel satisfied at having done something worthwhile. :)
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Allyson Evans
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asutbone wrote:
My wife is a public librarian, and she had some success with contacting publishers about possibly donating to the libraries. Some went into the collection, others were given out as prizes for participating in the summer reading program. You might try that, and I'd also recommend looking at the library gaming toolkit for some other resources. Good luck!


Thank you! And thanks for the link. I was just approached by an outside group wanting to do work with teen literacy, so this is a great resource for us to get started.

I will certainly try asking publishers (and perhaps even retailers) for donations for our pilot program . It's good PR and great goodwill.
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Allyson Evans
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
curtc wrote:
Will people have to sign an agreement for each game?


Nope. When you register at a lending library, you agree to pay for any loss or damage to what you borrow. You don't have to sign an agreement when you take a book out. If it's on the shelf, you can assume the librarian has checked it is in a fit state to loan. If you bring it back damaged, they notice.


Hear hear!
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Allyson Evans
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
I would also baulk at having to check a game like Agricola on return. If it's not checked before being lent out again, then the new borrower cannot be held to account for missing or damaged components.

So I would look for games with easy rules, few components, or generic replacable components (cubes). I would avoid anything with decks of cards, and baggies of specialist pieces, as they'd have to be counted. For Scrabble, you'd have to check that the correct mix of letters was still there.

But persevere. We have a collection of 500 games in our club and loan games to members. Mostly, damage or missing components are identified and replaced, but we have had games taken and not returned. But the club members use the games at family events, and the potential for impact is very high.

One suggestion is that you weigh the game when it leaves. I'm serious. If you have an accurate digital scale, and weigh the game when you prepare it for lending, then simply weighing it will tell you if there's significant loss. A change of a few grams would show that it needed to be checked.

You probably will want to laminate rules, or rather, keep the originals in archive and put repros in the games.

I will try to add some more, but have a look at these.

Hive Easy to play, to check.
Take it Easy! Likewise.
Tikal Lots of wooden pieces easy to replace, only some big tiles to count. Replacing temple tiles can be done in house (they don't affect game play if you make your own).
Scotland Yard Only the tickets, the board, and the hidden frame are important.

EDIT: You might gain from talking to a toy library. Obviously, board games differ from toys, but they may have experiences or ideas that relate to the way borrowers behave, and could save you making the same mistakes.


Thank you so much - this is actually a really huge help. I doubt I would have thought of the idea to laminate or duplicate rules until we lost a few.

I suggested the idea of a scale as well, but our Circ Supervisor wasn't having it. If the scale was off, it would mean that her staff would have to deal with it since I'm not always in the building. To allay her concerns, I said that her staff wouldn't have to do anything unless a patron presented a problem with a game they checked out. In that case, we won't accuse or try to fine anyone. We would simply apologize, accept the returned game, then set it aside for troubleshooting.

Thanks for the game suggestions! I'm going to be contacting local gaming groups, if I can find any, and ask if anyone has any of those kinds of games in need of a good home.
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Allyson Evans
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Hessi James wrote:
Hello Allyson,

first of all, this is an idea of great value. ...


Thank you, Hessi. I believe it is of great value as well. That's why I tried so passionately to make the rest of my library believe it was a good idea. It's not just my decision - several important supervisors have to agree, too. Like you, I'm not too worried about missing pieces. I'm sure we'll find a way to fix or replace them.

Und jetzt werde ich etwas Deutsch sprechen. Ich habe ein paar Deutschkurse in Universität, aber ich bin aus Übung. Eigentlich, reiste ich in die Schweiz im August, aber ich verstand kaum jemand. Sehr merkwürdig Dialekt, die Schweizer.

Anyway. Ich möchte nur sagen, dass Deutschland die besten Spiele in der Welt hat. Ich bin sehr eifersüchtig, dass Sie eine Leihbibliothek für Spiele haben. Das ist so amazing!

Your grammar is delightful, by the way. :)
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Allyson Evans
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ralpher wrote:
A game like Ticket To Ride--some pieces go missing, it is not a game breaker.

I'd look at Tanga for potential games because they are very cheap.


Awesome, thank you! I haven't played Ticket to Ride in a long time, so I wasn't quite sure about its components. Thanks for the clarification. :)
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Allyson Evans
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:

Most people that enter a library are close enough to middle class to know how to respect things. It's their kids I'd be bothered about. My expectation is that the game would be missing a card or two, but about 70% of the components would be scattered on Junior's floor. Which is why I'd go for component-light games.

In any case, we're arguing an abstract. Let the OP tell us in a year's time the real results.


You're very insightful. Yes, a library book with a torn page is going to cost you the entire book, but allowing a page to be torn out is a destructive act or at least a very reckless one and is usually quite rare.

Lost board game pieces, however, happen to the best of us. I don't want to ruin Junior's blossoming love of board games by bringing down the hammer on him or his parents. I want to keep track of our belongings, but I also don't want to be unfair. I'll try to foster an attitude of respect for our games and see what happens.

Am I the OP? I'm not sure what that means. I'll certainly report back, regardless. :)
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Steven Backues
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I'm don't quite understand why some seem to consider the possibility of lost pieces such a dealbreaker. It's rare that loosing a single card or a single piece would actually render the game unplayable, and even in most of those cases you could substitute something. It wouldn't be perfect, it would be a little annoying, but I don't think it would be that big of a deal.

Our local library lends CDs and DVDs as well as books. A DVD is much more fragile than a book; they are very easy to scratch, and one well-placed scratch really can render one useless. We check out a lot of children's DVDs, and they frequently have scratches that cause them to freeze half-way through. It's kind of annoying, but that's just the way it goes. That what we expect from the public library. After all, we're not having to pay for them. If we were renting them from a store, we would be more picky. But if they're free to borrow, you get what you pay for.

I suspect that this is how the general public would see board games from a library. If they checked out a game and it was missing a couple of pieces, I doubt they would throw up their hands in despair and never bother again. Probably, they would just play it anyways, and work around the missing piece. Possibly if it was bad enough, they would be a little disappointed, and play one of the other games they checked out instead.

If you expect the games to remain in perfect condition, then no, the idea probably won't work. But I don't see why one would expect that. If one merely wants them to remain playable, then I don't think that should be too much of a problem. Again, I think that a DVD is more fragile than a game. If libraries can successfully lend those - given reasonable expectations on the part of the borrowers - then I don't see why games would be impossible.

Suggestions: Definitely some quasi-abstracts, such as Hive, Hey That's My Fish, Tavula, etc. Also go with the classic gateways - Settlers, Carcasonne, TTR and the like. Things that are easy to for non-gamers to learn, as presumably that is your audience (serious gamers have other venues to try out new games). Perhaps avoid cards games, as those are more fragile; consider sleeving the cards in those games that do have some. Those are my thoughts.
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