Playing on a low budget? Try your local library

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In the immortal words of Arthur the Aardvark, “Having fun is not difficult when you have a library card!”

But how much fun can you really have with a library card? Turns out more than I expected. Libraries across America are adding video games to their collections available at checkout. Gamers with a relentless appetite for new experiences or those who wish to play video games for free should contact their local library to see if they have a collection.

Over the past few months, I have borrowed a number of Xbox One games from my local library, the Lawrence Public Library in Kansas. Half-pipes from Tony Hawk’s professional skater to the mysterious caves of Stardew ValleyI was able to explore these digital worlds for free, for a limited time. While this doesn’t remove all barriers to entry, gamers who own a console and experience financial insecurity might want to take advantage of the increased accessibility.

We spoke with Collection Development Librarian Kevin Corcoran of the Lawrence Public Library to learn more about their video game collection and how to borrow them. “It was originally a collection aimed at teenagers, but it grew from there,” he said. “The first games we started with were the Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.”

Research of games available on their website is a user-friendly experience. Customers can search digital catalogs for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. During our conversation, Corcoran mentioned that the library was planning to purchase games for the new generation consoles: PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. (Games for Wii U, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 are also available for loan, but the library does not currently purchase new titles for these previous generations.)

Anyone with a Lawrence Public Library card can borrow games for two weeks at a time, with the potential for renewal if another member of the community does not suspend the game. Corcoran suggested that retention lists sometimes accumulate for games that “people are not fully committed to but really want to try”. Patience is crucial if you want to test certain titles before you buy. “The most important list I have ever seen concerns Luigi’s mansion 3. “

“We are very attentive to the grips. Once a week, we’ll be posting hold reports to see which items have the most holdings, ”he said, of the Lawrence Public Library’s collections department. “On the things that get really popular, we get multiple copies of it as we see the takes increase. So seeing 25 people on a waiting list can be intimidating at first, but for a game like this we might get five or six copies.

For an additional perspective on video games in public libraries, we also spoke with Greg Burlingame, director of the library’s collections at Stark County District Library in Canton, Ohio. Their library received feedback from customers who “wanted us to explore the gaming market,” he says. The Stark Library’s video game collection is smaller and mostly includes PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games.

“It’s only been a few years. It was really a pilot project that we started. We had this branch which we had to close due to structural issues so we had to move to a storefront, ”Burlingame said,“ it was kind of an incubator for some ideas that we wanted to try. »Currently, video games, as well as DVDs, can be taken from multiple Redbox style locations around the community.

“In my day my brother and I were really excited Pac-Man outgoing for the 2600, “said Burlingame, referring to the Atari 2600 console,” We have for Easter or something like that. We put it on and we were like, “ Well that looks like nothing Pac-Man“. The game is completely different. The orders were all crazy. Checking a video game in the library before purchasing it helps mitigate the disappointment gamers might feel when an expensive game falls short of expectations.

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