Video Games at the Library

The Rochester Hills Public Library has been offering free loans of video games for the last four years.  With over 2,300 games in the collections it is one of the largest public library collections in the state.  The games can be checked out for one week and are appropriate for people of all ages.

“Audio visual materials (DVDs, video games, audio books and e-books) are some of the most popular items in our collection,” said library director Christine Lind Hage.  “We purchase games that can be played on Wii; Playstation 2 and 3, PSP; Xbox Classic, 360, and 360 Kinect; Nintendo DS; Game Boy Advance; and GameCube.”

Initially the video games were on open shelves in the public area, but the library started noticing high theft rates and had to move them to behind the circulation desk.  Several months ago the collection was moved back out into the public area, but thefts started up again.  “Library users really enjoyed browsing the collection, but we can’t allow the theft to continue so we’ve moved them back down to the first floor circulation/checkout desk,” said teen librarian Kricket Hoekstra. 

In order to replicate the browsing experience that people enjoyed, Ms. Hoekstra has designed a web page ( that allows users to browse by game system.  This website shows exactly which games are available at any time.  For instance if you search for Wii games you see that over 100 are available and the most popular game is listed first.

In its Libraries Literacy and Gaming fact sheet, the American Library Association talks about 21st Century literacy skills that we all need.  Video games are one way that people can improve their literacy skills.  21st Century Literacy is the ability to use a range of tools and skills to communicate and participate in today’s society.  These skills include:

  • Print Literacy, the ability to read and write proficiently.
  • Visual Literacy, the ability to interpret, assess, process and make meaning from visual images.
  • Media Literacy, the ability to critically assess messages presented by media outlets such as newspapers, blogs, television shows, and movies.
  • Programming Literacy, the ability to understand and applying programming principles to create change in technology.
  • Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Literacy, the ability to learn and use software and hardware to communicate knowledge and ideas.
  • Technology Literacy, the ability to use the tools of creation and communication, such as computers, cell phones, MP3 players and more.

Video games help people build skills in these areas.  “I’m suspect the majority of people checking out are games are not focused on building their literacy skills, but they do improve those skills while playing the games,” said Hage.  “And who’s to say that reading a video screen is any less valuable than reading a romance, mystery, or any other recreational reading materials?”

Anyone who lives or works in Rochester, Rochester Hills or Oakland Township is eligible for a free library card and can check out video games.  The Library is located in downtown Rochester off of University Drive and 3 blocks east of Main Street.  The library is open from 9 – 9 Monday through Thursday, 9 – 6 on Fridays and Saturday and from 1 – 6 on Sundays.  The library’s website ( has information on how to register for a card and access all of the library’s services.

About Tom and Ann Gendich

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