mtl at playA few weeks ago I hosted, with Ken Haycock, an event called The Future of Libraries: Do We Have 5 Years to Live.  One the most lively conversations was around the library’s uniqueness — what made them different or distinct from other organizations in their communities.  This post is about one area and how their libraries saw an opportunity to exploit the dynamics of the gaming industry in their community to promote awareness of their resources and services and showcase their uniqueness!

I just heard at the Canadian Library Association annual conference, a great story about public libraries in Montreal (Les Bibliothèques de Montréal, OCLC/CMD Innovation Award Recipient) who were motivated by a teen death as well as the fact that Montreal hosts the largest video game industry in Canada to create a city-wide event, Montreal Joue,  It’s all about games and play.   Not just video games, but also board games since there is a rise in modern board games.  Earlier this year they held their second festival, Feb 22-Mar 9.  The public libraries of Montreal hosted nearly 400 activities in 45 libraries and 16 other venues including Concordia University’s Research Lab (including a workshop), high schools, video game studio visits, and more.  With $100K from 32 partners supporting the event, more than 14,000 people participated.  Many of the activities only required a Montreal library card.  The libraries had several spokespersons including a young area actress as well as the Mayor of Montreal.  Activities included a zombie night in the library (tickets were actually scalped!), visits to video game studios, gaming events in the libaries, Food & fun at City Hall.

The goals of the libraries: promoting their collections (the video game collection has grown to almost 10K), showcasing a diversity of activities, reaching out to new communities and members, providing an inclusive place, and developing partnerships in their community.  They wanted to package a new experience for their customers and attract new groups while tapping into the gaming industry in Montreal. With their very successful event, the libraries are expanding their activities to include monthly video games clubs in some libraries, the growth of their collections, and now they are working on a gaming arena — now in beta.  Bravo!