GAMERT (Gaming) Round Table

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The mission of the Games and Gaming Round Table is to provide the following:
  • A forum for the exchange of ideas and concerns surrounding games in libraries;
  • Resources to the library community to support the building and maintaining of library game collections;
  • A force for initiating and supporting game programming in libraries;
  • Create an awareness of, and need for, the support of the value of gaming and play in libraries, schools, and related learning communities.
  • Create an awareness of the value of games and gaming in library outreach and community engagement plans.
  • A professional and social forum for networking among librarians and non-librarians interested in games and gaming.

 Licensing and in-library game consoles

Zack North's profile image
Zack North posted Aug 24, 2023 10:59 AM

Hey all,

We're in the process of adding a gaming console to our Teen Room. What have other libraries done to deal with licensing in this situation? Do I even need to worry about it? I've been looking through the resources on the round table website and have not seen anything specifically mentioning this issue. 

We plan to permanently have the console in the room preloaded with games and check out the controllers.  


Colin Post's profile image
Colin Post
Hey Zack,
I'm actually currently working on a research project exploring the challenges of licensing digital games in libraries (both on consoles and PC games from platforms like Steam). The long and short of it is that nobody is really licensing digital games at scale right now. Game publishers don't have models for licensing to libraries and other educational institutions, and there aren't library vendors for digital games like there are for ebooks and streaming video.
Right now, the libraries that are providing some access to digital games are doing so in the way that you're thinking about: having games preloaded on library owned machines. This sits in kind of a legal grey area because the digital games sold from console stores and online platforms are intended for single users, but no libraries (to my knowledge) have gotten in trouble with game companies for providing access to digital games in this way. I'm hoping to work on models for providing online access to digital games in ways comparable to ebooks, but we're at the very early stages of figuring this out in the library world.
So far, I've been talking with academic libraries interested in digital game collecting, but I'd love to hear from others in public libraries that are trying to start figuring this out, too.
Rebecca Strang's profile image
Rebecca Strang

For consoles, my library has a Wii and a Switch in the Teen Space. We also use a Switch for Video Game Club. The Teen Space checks out controllers to teens who want to play, though they have physical cartridges for a lot of the games instead of digital versions. For Video Game Club, we use a mix of digital games and cartridges, as well. We don't let anyone create profiles or log in to their own profiles on the library consoles. All the purchasing options are locked down with parental controls.

For PCs, Steam has a licensing option via their Steam PC Cafe: I haven't used it at any of my libraries, but I know there are libraries out there who have used it.