“Welcome to LibraryQuest…”

I had a really good meeting with Iman and Andrew Wilson (from Huddersfield based Blink) on Friday morning to see if we can set up a new project that combines the library with all (or some) of the following: gaming, RFID, serendipity, attracting non-users, improving book findability, and generally having fun.
Blink have done some really funky stuff with RFID at MAGNA near Rotherham and at the local Media Centre, and Iman did a cool project that combined the OPAC with social networking.
One of the ideas which was briefly kicked around the table has really grown on me over the weekend –turning use of the library and the library services into a game. In a similar way to many MMORPGs, you would earn (or even lose) points as you interacted with the library.
For example, any of the following might gain you points…
1] bringing a book back on time
2] bonus points for returning a book that fulfils a hold request
3] borrowing a book
4] bonus points for borrowing a book that’s previously had low circulation or not been borrowed recently
5] bonus points for borrowing a book that’s outside of your normal borrowing subject areas
6] using the automated systems for renewing books (e.g. OPAC or telephone renewal system)
7] using the other services provided by the library (e.g. electronic resources)
8] visiting the library
…and the following might lose you points…
1] bringing a book back late
2] not paying fines promptly
3] breaching the library policy on acceptable behaviour
The more I thought about it, the more it started to dove-tail with store loyalty/reward cards — we often penalise “bad” library behaviour (e.g. through fines) but rarely reward “good” behaviour. I always feel sorry for students who have never been fined before and then genuinely forget to bring some books back — maybe they could “cash in” some of their well earned points to offset a fine?
Perhaps points could also be converted into printing credits, or exchanged for low cost materials (e.g. ring binders, USB memory sticks, binding materials)?
Hmmm… I wonder how students would react to seeing something like this in their account page in the OPAC?
“You currently have a library score of 5,182 points and are ranked #176 out of all Applied Sciences students. You have gained 287 points in the last 7 days.”

4 thoughts on ““Welcome to LibraryQuest…””

  1. We use a similar system of “nice points” and “rude points” with our kids. If they get more nice points than rude points, then they can cash each one in for 10 mins screen time at the end of the day…up to 60 mins.
    A big side effect of doing this in your library would be an increase in staff morale. We find that deliberately trying to find good things our kids are doing makes us realise they actually are fine people and not little brats most of the time.
    I really like the ranking idea.
    How about points for attending an info literacy class? Self check? Extra bonus if you bring a book on HOLD back before new due back date? Being able to name a library staff member? What about a random quiz being thrown up as they use the OPAC?…”Thanks for your enquiry, OPAC would like to ask you a question for bonus library points…would you like to continue”….but that could p*ss off the academics.

  2. This is one of the cooler ideas I’ve heard that combines libraries and the concept of gaming (for the most part, I’m a little dubious on how you could be successful teaching information literacy via gaming). I think students would think it was fun. Whether it would actually influence their behavior is hard to predict.

  3. The idea of loyalty points for on-time returns has crossed my mind too, but then I thought it would be open to abuse. It sounds cynical, but especially now we have RFID, a student could just borrow and return loads of books they don’t use just to accumulate points.

  4. That crossed my mind too… although it would certainly give the circulation stats a healthy boost 😉
    Just a quick update to the original post… Iman submitted an excellent research bid (“Learning Games in the Smart Library”) which aims for the following outcomes:
    — To encourage students to visit the library more frequently.
    — To familiarise students with the creation of online annotations of the library catalogue that will persist and be of value to other students.
    — To encourage students to explore the library collection and facilitate the sharing of their finds.
    — To enable serendipitous knowledge discovery by students through the game mechanics, player profiles and history of other participants.
    — To explore the library as a hub for knowledge transfer through social interaction (but interaction which can take place asynchronously and online so as not to alter the character of the library as a site for study)
    — To use social interaction to enable the generation of ad-hoc self-supporting learning groups among students
    …I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the bid will be successful!

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