Video games at the Oak Park Library?

Despite some skeptics, the book building adds 200 titles to collection

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

You've heard of checking out books — audio, digital or printed — at the library, along with DVDs and even museum passes. But video games?

The Oak Park Public Library recently bolstered its collection, adding 200 video game titles, compatible with a variety of systems, from the handheld Nintendo DS to the Xbox 360, and range in content from the bloody western "Red Dead Redemption," to the family-friendly "Disney Sing It."

J.M. Konecki, an Oak Park dad of two and frequent library user, was "appalled" to see the stack of video games in the kids' section. By library rules, a person can check out up to 200 titles out at once (though the library said it would be virtually impossible to do that — there's a 30 limit "hold" policy).

"It's like crack," said Konecki, 41, "You give a kid a little bit, and then they want more and more. When it comes to kids, there should be some sort of tie-in to reading and education, and I think video games are getting away from that."

The library invested about $20,000 to add its video game collection, with the kid titles arriving in late July, and adult titles arriving a few weeks ago. Patrons have repeatedly requested video games, and the library thought it made sense to listen, said Monica Harris, assistant manager of adult and teen services.

They've been offering a program for four years where teens and seniors can come to the library to play video games. And neighboring institutions — in Forest Park, Brookfield and Riverside — already offer games, Harris said.

The collection has proved extremely popular. More than half of the titles have holds on them right now ("Call of Duty Black Ops" has been reserved 41 times alone).

With the death of video stores, it's harder to go out and try a video game, said Rebecca Teasdale, assistant director of public services and programs at the library. And they've found that video games aren't just for teens.

"Sometimes we think about video games appealing to a particular demographic group, but research is showing that the appeal is very broad," she said.

Some, such as Konecki, worry that video games rot your brains and take up all your free time. But Harris pointed to research showing that video games teach kids exploration and problem solving, among other things.

"We really do consider gaming play and creative thinking to be hallmarks of 21st-century learning, and we want to be part of that," Harris said.

Malek Sarhan, a 13-year-old volunteer who frequently uses the library, was skeptical about the addition at first. He thought video games had no place there but came around after a while, deciding that the library was just hoping to keep up with the times. He currently has a copy of "NBA 2K11" on hold for the Nintendo Wii.

"At first I was kind of upset, but everything has to modernize," he said.

Game rentals are free, you can have them out for up to seven days, and they can be renewed if no holds have been placed. The library is thinking of adding more in the near future, and patrons can request titles they're looking for at, according to Harris.

"It's obvious to us that this is a very popular collection, so we need to spend more money on it," she said.

Reader Comments

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J.M Konecki  

Posted: August 22nd, 2011 1:10 PM

Vision Statement......... Oak Park Public Library embraces the rich heritage and vibrant future of our community. We aspire to be the best possible library for Oak Park. We create opportunities to participate, connect and discover by: Encouraging lifelong learning Responding to the needs of our diverse community Ensuring freedom of access to information Offering space for people and ideas to come together Providing materials and programs that entertain and inspire

J.M Konecki  

Posted: August 22nd, 2011 1:09 PM

Vision Statment (con't)...We are committed to excellent stewardship of the physical and financial assets entrusted to the Library. We are committed to excellent service to the community.

J.M Konecki  

Posted: August 22nd, 2011 1:06 PM

Mission Statement........ The Oak Park Public Library enhances the quality of life in our diverse community by providing the resources and services for lifelong learning and enjoyment, the space and opportunities to gather and connect, and by fostering a love of reading.

J.M Konecki  

Posted: August 22nd, 2011 12:54 PM

The only piece in the OPPL Mission or Vision statement that would fit offering video games to 0-12 yr olds is this: "Providing materials and programs that entertain and inspire". If this is the case, when are the foosball or ping pong tables coming? I could understand video games for children older than 12 and adults, but not for Children aged 0-12. I do agree with the pc's with loaded educational games,tools and software which enrich creativity.

Sharon Grimm from Oak Park Public Library  

Posted: August 22nd, 2011 9:51 AM

Find the Library's mission statement on our website, in the About Us section, at

Melissa from  

Posted: August 19th, 2011 1:00 PM

For a wealth of information on brain development in early childhood and beyond, check out Parenting Well in a Media Age - Keeping Our Kids Human by Gloria DeGaetano. This book shows how and why media (TV, video, smartphones, computers, etc) needs to be managed so kids can grow up to be socially, emotionally, and cognitively competent humans.

J.M Konecki  

Posted: August 19th, 2011 12:03 AM

It would seem to me that the OPPL should hold some responsibility and accountability for what they offer and to whom at taxpayers expense. Would video games be acceptable at the school libraries? Do they already exist? What and where is the OPPL mission statement? Expert opinions may differ, but what is your personal opinion(not from an employee perspective)?

Violet Aura  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 4:25 PM

@Sharon: Good luck with that.

Sharon Grimm from Oak Park Public Library  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 4:08 PM

Expert opinions vary. The Library doesn't hold an opinion on when to introduce kids to video games. We support parents and caregivers in deciding what is best for their family.

Phil of Ideas  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 2:32 PM

if you don't want your kids checking out video games, don't buy them the consoles. Movies with sound also rot the mind, or at least that is what my grandfather used to say. Damn talkies!

J.M Konecki  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 2:21 PM

Thanks for the answer of 0-12 yrs old. Now in your opinion, what would be the best age to introduce any child to video games?

Sharon Grimm from Oak Park Public Library  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 1:41 PM

Our video games on the first floor are intended for birth through tween.

J.M Konecki  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 12:58 PM

Sharon, What is the target age group for the children's section on the first floor of the main library?

Sharon Grimm from Oak Park Public Library  

Posted: August 18th, 2011 10:24 AM

We hope all ages will take advantage of this collection as a way to flex the mind (and wrists and hands!). You might wonder about the benefits for young people. This PBS article offers a perspective on the literacy of gaming and offers tips for parents, caregivers, and teachers:

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 11:12 PM

I do not play video games -much, but have watched my grandchildren play frequently and am amazed at the games' complexity. The creativity, dexterity and concentration required to be successful has to be beneficial. If treated like book selection that ensure a wide range of choices and restriction on inappropriate materials, the program is a valid learning tool. I think seniors should avoid these learning tools. I find myself dizzy and bone weary (wrists) after a game. I am sticking to books.

So Stupid from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 9:41 PM

ed, Oak Park was once again not paying attention when they built the library. They wanted to impress with a new library, and instead can't fill one level with people. Now it's time to bring in video games?

J.M Konecki  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 7:31 PM

Maybe the space by the entrance could be turned into an arcade? Look at how many new faces we would see at the library??


Posted: August 17th, 2011 8:58 AM

Oh brother, I guess this is just a glimpse of what we have to look forward to in the future. Libraries used to be places of learning and personal enrichment, now they are just half Starbucks, half Blockbuster.

James Reyes from Chicago  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 2:33 AM

Video games can also improve reading comprehension.Especially role playing games and strategy games that require reading adult nerd level instructions every few minutes to play.

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