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board game library at public library

I would like to thank Donald Dennis for sharing this article. Donald is a librarian, small press game publisher, and the producer of the On Board Games Podcast. In his widely varied career he’s worked two table top game companies (Iron Crown Enterprises, & Green Knight Publishing) and been a UI Designer for one AAA video game release. (Command & Conquer 3: Kane’s Wrath)

Since 2008 he’s been a special librarian for the Georgetown County Library system where he has managed the Bunnelle Youth Technology Experience Series (BYTES) where he crafted a games program which integrated games and technology to engage area youth in a proliteracy setting, encouraging scholastic achievement while building a game community at the library.


As libraries strive to find continued relevance in a modern era where the internet has made information more accessible than any time in history librarians are focusing more on community support and service with fewer resources being dedicated to curating dead trees. While we are still years, or even decades, away from paperless libraries many branches now offer electronic or audio books, online access points, and most importantly: programming and community space for activities.

The situation in the Georgetown County Library System in South Carolina is unique; our four libraries are very disparate in social demographics as well as each having distinctive geographic circumstance. Our main branch is in the city of Georgetown, while our other branches are isolated. One library branch sits in the parking lot of the grade and high schools, a second is within walking distance of the projects, and the third is in a significantly more affluent area with very low foot traffic.

board game in play at the library
Playing games at the library!

There is no requirement for patrons to participate in board games, or educational activities, we don’t even require them to show IDs. Conversely, to participate in video games we have specific requirements; school aged patrons must check out 4 items a month from the Georgetown Library, at least two of which must be books. For that they get 2 hours a day, on days the room is open for games, that they can come play games.

Special Programs

Besides our ground breaking video game activities and tournament initiatives, the Georgetown County Library System has offered game design activities for both video and board games, as well as community games days, and even taught game literacy classes helping patrons to discover sources they can trust for game reviews. In addition to entertainment activities we have used games to support other programs in the library.

Because our libraries are all open five or more days a week, and we have a focus on game events, we have a wide variety of game activities every month of the year. Each branch has at least one staff member who not only provides traditional library services, but also acts as a gaming and technology specialist. These employees check out games to library patrons, run game days, and even help us develop our collection.

Smart Investing @ your Library

Table of board games at the library
Some of the library's games
The GCLS received a Smart Investing At Your Library grant from the American Library Association and FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulation Authority. Because of this grant the Georgetown Library System was able to offer a wide variety of financial programming, called Personal Investment Education (PIE), including game activities. At our annual book sale event where we served free pie to library patrons we had tables of games focusing on economic matters, including Settlers of Catan for Trading, Dividends, Shark, and Acquire for investing, and Masters of Commerce for auctions and real estate. We also utilized auction games like Medici and Modern Art, while games like Loose Change and Exact Change were available to play with younger children still learning how to count money.

Some of our Smart Investing activities also combined with our Summer Reading Program and our game design activities. A quick example includes the use of Northstar Games Wits & Wagers and Say Anything game lines, both of which are popular at the library. Besides playing the games patrons earned game time for helping come up with four questions for a game show we had after a week of financial activities two Wits & Wagers style questions with well written question and a researched answer (including a valid source) and two money related questions for Say Anything. Competition, both at the game show and to submit questions, was fierce.


I encourage you to get involved at your local library, however if you would like to support games in the Georgetown County Library System you can donate games, credit at online games vendors, or time. We always need people to come and teach new games.

I would like to echo Donald's sentiments.  Whereas his library may not be the norm for public libraries (yet!) I would encourage you to check with your library to see if they have a similar program - or if they are interested in starting one.  I know that the public library in Joplin's young adult department was interested in board games, and I was able to donate a few games to help build their collection.


  1. Should post to if you haven't already. Keep up the good blog :)

  2. Done! But, feel free to share any of my posts on Reddit in the future - I'm not the only one that can submit links. ;)

  3. Thanks for posting this.

    I'm hoping to get something gaming related started at my local library in the next year. They already loan out Wii games, but I'm hoping to work with them to get a grant to start a lending collection of board games and maybe help host some community gaming events. This has some good information to draw on.