Library proposes new video game position

The librarians of the future may be swapping their stacks of books for Xbox and Playstation controllers.

The University library system is expanding its gaming initiative by proposing the new position of video game expert in its current budget, said Paula Kaufman, University librarian and professor of Library Administration.

The role of the video game expert would be to preserve old systems and collect new materials, said David Olsen, sophomore in Business and member of the Student-Faculty Senate Library Committee.

A number of people oversee the video game collection, but no one is devoted to it full time, said David Ward, head of information services for the Undergraduate Library and the head of video game collection development.

The new position would streamline all responsibilities into one role, Kaufman said.

She said the library’s gaming initiative was created to support research, entertainment and historical needs. Kaufman warned that if the library ignored video games, an important part of American culture would disappear.

“We’ve always collected material that was on the cutting edge,” Kaufman said. “It is important to understand that these games are a very important part of our culture.”

At any given time, 60 percent to 70 percent of the video games will be checked out, which is a higher rate than books or DVDs, Ward said.

Ward said the library has a wide variety of old gaming systems, such as the Sega Genesis and Atari. He just completed an inventory this spring and the machines are available for researchers, but the old systems are too fragile for students to check out.

Ward chooses games based on student requests and different reviews, just like he would for books.

Students can log on to the library’s gaming Web site to request games and browse the current catalog.

In a struggling economy, Olsen said he worries the video games will distract libraries from their main purpose, education.

“I’m concerned the library will be moving away from its mission of providing a great research resource for students and faculty,” Olsen said. “Spending a good deal of money on video games would detract from the library’s current budget. However, I understand this field has much potential, which I think is very important.”

The funds budgeted for the position still need approval from the provost.

“In an economy like this, nothing in the budget is certain,” Kaufman said.