52 Ready-to-Use Gaming Programs for Libraries

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Gaming programs offer many benefits: they encourage interaction among patrons, strengthen community bonds with the library, and when done right they can be incredibly popular. Kroski, a bestselling author as well as an avid gamer herself, has gathered more than 50 creative programming ideas from public, school, and academic libraries nationwide. Most will hit your core gaming audience of teens, but you’ll also find plenty of options for adults, tweens, and younger children—the mix of tabletop, video, and live-action gaming programs includes something for everyone. Complete with step-by-step instructions for how to prepare and host programs, a materials and equipment list, estimated budget, and recommendations for age ranges, inside this book you’ll find fun ideas such as  

  • Instagram or zombie-tag scavenger games;
  • a video game rec league;
  • teaching cybersecurity with Minecraft;
  • STEM with virtual reality and other programs for VR equipment;
  • fostering science literacy with themed board games;
  • a life-sized Game of Life;
  • STEAM with an amazing race;
  • hosting a Gaming Con at your library;
  • video game study breaks for calming students’ nerves during Finals Week;
  • leading enthusiasts in writing an original roleplay or designing a board game; and
  • building your collection of games through donations and grants.

The engaging programs in this book will have people flocking to your library—it’s all in the game.


Part I        Tabletop Game Programs
Chapter 1    Beyond Dungeons & Dragons: Building a Roleplaying Program
Robert Taylor and Danielle Costello
Chapter 2    How to Start Tabletop Gaming Programs at Your Library, for Absolute Beginners
Mark Halvorsen and James Tyner
Chapter 3    Brush & Shield: Paint & Take Miniature Day at the Public Library
Mark Halvorsen
Chapter 4    Recurring Game Events for Older Adults
Mark Halvorsen
Chapter 5    How to Develop Socioeconomic Literacies with the Landlord Game
Randal Sean Harrison
Chapter 6    Hero’s Handbook: Steps for Creating a Pathfinder RPG Beginner’s Program
Delaney Bullinger and Allison Rand
Chapter 7    Dewey and Dragons: Dungeons & Dragons at the Library
Jamey Rorie
Chapter 8    How to Build a Circulating Board Game Collection for a Commuter Campus
Tiffanie Ford-Baxter, Daniel Palodichuk, and Jennifer Selga
Chapter 9    Developing Science Literacy through Science-Themed Board Games
Bryce Van Ross and Tiffanie Ford-Baxter
Chapter 10    Call of Cthulhu: Hosting Roleplaying Events in the World of H. P. Lovecraft
Michael Furlong
Chapter 11    How to Host a Large-Scale Board Games Event for New Student Orientation
Annette M. Vadnais
Chapter 12    Not So Trivial Pursuit: Board Game Creation in Your Library
Kristen Cinar
Chapter 13    How to Organize a Tabletop Gaming Convention
Tiffany Polfer and James Tyner
Chapter 14    Play Your Cards Right: An Information Literacy Card Game for Undergrads
Martha Attridge Bufton, Colin Harkness, and Ryan Tucci
Chapter 15    Advanced D&G (Donations and Grants): Building Your Game Library without Breaking Your Budget
Matthew Morrison
Chapter 16    RPG Writing Workshop: Lead Patrons in Writing Their Own Games
Christopher Bussman and Shea’la Finch
Chapter 17    How to Highlight Locally Designed Board Games in Your Library
Maggie Block

Part II        Video Game Programs
Chapter 18    Exam Cram: Providing Video Games for Final Exam Study Breaks
Kyle Neill and Brad Casselberry
Chapter 19    How to Start a Kerbal Space Program Club
Jacqueline Lockwood
Chapter 20    Game and Learn: How to Create a Library Augmented Reality Tour
Yingqi Tang and Charlcie Vann
Chapter 21    Level Up! Library Orientation with a Phone-Based Exploration Game
Beth Jane Toren
Chapter 22    Smash Your Programming Goals with a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament
Sarah Prosser
Chapter 23    Get the Most out of VR
Haley T. Lee
Chapter 24    How to Create and Sustain a Gamer’s Club Even if You Are Not a Gamer
Maya Berry
Chapter 25    How to Create an Arcade Program in the Library
Nicholas Dease
Chapter 26    How to Create a Video Game Recreational League
Leah Canner
Chapter 27    Culper Spies: Choose Your Own Adventure Online Gamification
Kristen Cinar
Chapter 28    Hosting Pokémon GO PVP Tournaments in Your Library
Emily Burkot
Chapter 29    Building a Video Game Collection for Programming (And Keeping It Current!)
Emily Burkot
Chapter 30    It’s Locked: Combining Video Games with Real-Life STEM Challenges
Selenia Paz
Chapter 31    How to Explore STEM Programming through VR
Zachary Stier
Chapter 32    Teach Young Patrons Cybersecurity Using Minecraft
Chris Markman

Part III    Live Action Game Programs
Chapter 33    How to Run a Vampire LARP in the Library
Errol Logan
Chapter 34    How to Run an Instagram Scavenger Hunt for New Student Orientation
Susan M. Hansen
Chapter 35    How to Create a Life-Sized Game of Life
Lindsey Tomsu
Chapter 36    How to Organize an Escape Room for Faculty
Maya Berry and Melissa Wright
Chapter 37    Live Video Games: Library Battle Royale
Sarah Amazing
Chapter 38    Hunger Games Survival Challenge
Sarah Amazing
Chapter 39    How to Create a Live Clue Game
Jonathan Dolce
Chapter 40    Scavenger Hunt: Zombie Tag
Karlene Tura Clark
Chapter 41    How to Create a Mini-Golf Mini-Tour
Kaitlyn May, Mary Atwell, and Emily Hampton Haynes
Chapter 42    Spy Hunt: A Library Research Scavenger Hunt
Kristen Cinar
Chapter 43    How to Run a Fandom LARP
Elizabeth R. Strauss
Chapter 44    Anything Bingo
Elizabeth R. Strauss
Chapter 45    Stop the Mad Librarian: A Library Orientation Escape Room
Susan M. Hansen
Chapter 46    How to Run a Library Research Gamification Program
Lisa Njoku
Chapter 47    Laser Tag in the Stacks
Steven Wade, Julie Hornick, Randall MacDonald, and Marina Morgan
Chapter 48    Save Lewis the Librarian! An Information Literacy Escape Room
Ruth Cho
Chapter 49    How to Run a History Mystery Program for Teens
Ruth Covington
Chapter 50    How to Create Life-Sized Board Games
Lindsey Tomsu
Chapter 51    Just Try to Escape Your Training! Using Escape Rooms to Develop a Cohesive Student Worker Team
Melanie Bopp
Chapter 52    The Amazing Race: STEAM to the Finish Line
Sandra Calemme McCarthy and Maureen Perault


Ellyssa Kroski

Ellyssa Kroski is the Director of Information Technology and Marketing at the New York Law Institute as well as an award-winning editor and author of 60 books, including Law Librarianship in the Age of AI for which she received AALL's 2020 Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award. She is a librarian, an adjunct faculty member at Drexel and San Jose State Universities, and an international conference speaker. She received the 2017 Library Hi Tech Award from the ALA/LITA for her long-term contributions in the area of Library and Information Science technology and its application. She can be found at: http://www.amazon.com/author/ellyssa.

"The programs are written in an accessible, practical, and thorough style which makes them a one-stop-shop for your early planning stages ... This title is recommended as one to return to again and again in the course of developing library programs, both to take the ready-to-use ideas as they are written and as a source of inspiration to adapt ideas and create your own unique ideas."
— Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association