What is Possible: Co-exploration & Critical Learning in Archives & Special Collections

I have a new piece out documenting my favorite part of my job over the last few years. It’s titled “What is Possible: Co-exploration & Critical Learning in Archives & Special Collections,” and it appeared in Pagowsky, N. & McElroy, K. (2016) Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook, Volume 1: Essays and Workbook Activities. ACRL Press. (aka the #critlib book). Read away!


An April in words, alphabetized

Taking poet William James’s lead, here are all of the words in the poems I wrote during National Poetry Month in April (most punctuation removed):

&  &  &  &  &  (frank) 1947 6  82 a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  a  able able  about  about  about  about  about  about  about  accident  accompany  accustomed  across  act  action  actually  admit  adult  affords  after  after  after  afternoon again against age  age  age  age  age  age  age  age  age  age  age  age  age  age  age  ageold  ago aimless  air air air air  air  airlock  airtight  alike all all all  all  all  all  all  all  all  all  all  all  almost  almost  also also also also  also  also  also  also  also  also  also  also  also  also  also  also  also  also  also  also  always  always  always  always  always  america american  american:  among  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  an  analysis  ancient  and and and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  and  anecdotes  announcing  another another  another  answers  any  any  any  any  apparatus appearance  approved  arbitrary are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  are  arose  around  around  around  arts  as  as  as  as  as  as  ascent  asked  at  at  at  at  at  at  at  at  at  at  at  at  at  at  atmosphere  atop  atop  attain  attempt audiences audiences  audiences  automatically  avid away  away  away  babies back  back  back  backwards baked  balm band  banner  barfed  based  bath  battle  be be be be  be  be  be  be  be  be  be  be  be  be  be  bearing  beat  beautiful beautiful  beauty because because  because  because  because  because  because  become  been  been  before  beginning  behind  being  being  believe  ben  bench  benevolent  bent  best  best  between  beyond beyond  big  biggest  billions  binge  binoculars  blink  block  block  blocked  blocks  blood blow blows  bonus  books  borders boring  born borrowed  bottle  bottles  bought  bought  box boy brand  brave  break  bridge  bring  broader  broadway  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  broken  bronze  brother  brought  brought  brought  brown  bubbles  buddy build  built built  bully burgundy  burning  business  business  business  businessmen businesspeople  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  but  butcherbrown  by  by  by  by  by  by  by  caisson  calamity  call call  came  campsite  campus  can  can  can  can  can  can  can  can  cannot cannot  cant  cant  card  care carriage catastrophic catch caught  cause  certainly  chance  change  character  characteristics  cheap  cheerful cheetah  cherished  children  children  choose choose  choose  cigar  cinder  cirrus  cirrus  citing  civil  class  class  clean  cleaned clear  clearly  closed  closed  closely closet  clothes  club club  club  coat cold cold  cold  colder college college college college  college  come come come  comes  commando: community  community  companies  completely composition computer  computers  conan  concept  concerning confession  confidant congruent congruent  connected  connor  consider  consumer contains  contains  continued control convinced convinced  cooler  cop costs  couch could  could  could  couldnt  country course  court court  creek critical  critics  critics  croatian  crows crude  cruisemate cylinder  cylinder  danko darling data data  datas  dawn  dead dead  dead  deal  debating  deciding  deck  decrypted  defense definitely  definiteness  degree  delay  delight  dentist  depressed depricated  depricated  descend  design desire  destroyed  devoted did  different  different  difficulty  dilates  discard  discount  dispatched  distasteful distinct  distrusted  do do  do  doc  does doesnt  doesnt  domestic  donations done  dont  dont  door dormant double  doubt douglas  dragging  drawing  drives drops  duchamp  dull durations  dust dust  dutch  duty  dynamo each  each  ear  ear  earth  ease easy easy  eat  economy  edge  efficiencies either  elected elected elected  elected  elected  electric electric  electric  electric  electrically  else  else  encounters  end end  end  end  end  end  end  endeavor  ended  ends enough  enough  entanglements enter  entered  enterprise  enters equipped  eraser  erroneous  escape escape  escapement  especially  espoused:  europe even  every  every  every  every  every  everyone  everything  evidence exactly  examples  exasperating excommunicate exhausted  expanding  expect  experiment  explain  explosion exposed eyelid  eyelids  eyelids  eyes face  fact  fail  faithbased faithful  fallen familiar  family fans  far  fashion  fashions fast  fatal  father  feeding feel  feel  feet fell  felt  felt  felt  few  field  field  figuring filled  film  filmic  final  financial  find  find  finger  fire  firmly  first  fivegallon  flat flattened flicker floated floated floated  floated  floated  flood  flow  floyd fluid  fluky  flutter  fluxes  fog  fog  follows  foot  foot  for for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  for  forefront forest forever forgotten  form  foundation  four  fox fraternity  freeze friend friend  friend  from  from  from  from  from  from  from  from  from  from  front  front  frost frozen frozen full  fumes fundamental  future  game game  gases gasoline  gauge  gauging  gauze gaze  gem  gentleman get  get  get  get  get  ghosted  gifts gifts  gin gin  give  gives  gives  glue  go go  go  god  goes going  gone  gone  good  good  good  good  got  got  governs gradually  grandmother  gray  great  great  greatest  grew  gripping  growing guts  gym  had  had  had  had  had  had  half  hand  hands happened  happy  happy  hardcoded  hardship  harvest  has  has  has  has  has  has  have  have  have  have  have  have  have  have  have  have  have  have  have  have  have  have  havent  hazard  hazards  he  he  he  he  he  he  he  head  head  head  head  headed  hear  hearing  heart  heavier  heavy  held help hen  her her her  her  her  her  her  her  her  her  her  her  her  hercules  here here  hero hero  heroic  hesitates  hexagonal hidden  hide  high  high  high  highway him  him  him  his  his  his  his  his  his  his  his  history  hit  holding  holds  holiday  home home  hon hop  horse  hotel  house house house  however  humidity hurt  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  i  ice  ice  ice  idea idea  idea  idea  identical  idle  if  if  if  ignored  im  im  imagine imagine  imitation  immaterial  immortality  impact  imperfections  impersonation impersonation implies: important in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  in  includes  individual  industrial  industrial  inform  injured  inky  inside  inside  inside  install  instead  intended intended interchangeable  interests intersections  into  into  into  invariably  irl  iron  iron  iron  irondale is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  is  it it it it it it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it  it:  item  its  its  its  its  its  its  its  its  ive  jersey  johnnie  jonathan  joy  jumbotron juniper  just  just  kaleidoscope  keep  kept  keys khaaaaaan  kid  kind  kindergarten  kitchen  knees  know  know  knucklehead  labor  lack  laid land  lanolin  laserlight  last  last  last  last  last  lasting  laugh  laugh  lavaplain  law lay  laying le  lead  lean  learn  learn  learned  learning  least  leave leaving  left  left  left:  lensward  let  levees libraries  life  life  life  lifelike light light  light  light  like like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  like  likes  lincoln  line line  linger  lip  liquid  list  listen listening lit  little  locked  logical  long  long  longer  look  look  looking looking  lord  loses love lower  loyalty  lunches  lunchtime  macbook  macbook  machine  machine  machine  machine  machinery made  made  magnificent  maiden  maintenance  make  make  makes  malleable  man  man  man  managed mans  many  many  marketing  marketing  mask  massive  material matinee  matter matters  maude maybe  maybe  maybe  mayors  me me  me  me  me  me  me  me  me  me  me  me  me  me:  meaning  meaningless medicate  medium  medium  meet  meetings  menace meshes  metawork method  methods michigan microlend  microseconds  middle  mile mile  military  mine  misfortune modern  modest  moment  moments  monolithic  monument mop more more  most  most  most  most  most  most  mostly  mostly  mother  motherd  motto:  mountains  mouth move  mover mr  much much  mug  multiplied  mumbletypeg  museum  musik must  must  mustache  musthave  my  my  my  my  my  my  my  my  my  my  my  my  my  my  my  my  myriad myself  mystery  name  names names  nature  nature  naught  nearby  nearly negative  negotiate  neighborhood never  never  never  never  never  new  new  new  new  new  newspapers  next  next  nicest  niece  night night night  night  night  nightmare  nitrate  no  no  no  no  no  no  no  no  no  no  no  node  noises nonblurring  none  nose  not  not  not  not  not  not  not  note  notes nothing  notices  notunsettling  now now  now  now  nuisance obtained  obvious  ocean  of of of of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  of  off off  officers  official often old  on on  on  on  on  on  on  on  on  on  on  on  on  on  on  on  on  on  once  one one  one  one  one  one  one  one  one  one  one  ones  only only  only  only  only  only  only  only  only  only  only  onto  opened  operators  opined or or  or  or  or  or  or  or  or  or  orange  other  other  other  other  others  ought  our  our  our  our  our  our  our  our  our  our  our  out out  out  out  out  out  out  out  outside outside outside  over  over  over  overflows  overlooked  owe  own own  p  packets  pages paints  palate  panama  panned  paper  parents  particular  passed  passed  pay  pay  payments  peace peace peculiarity  penny  people people  people  perceive  perhaps period phone phone phone  photo  photographs photos  picture: pieces  pill  pillshaped  pillshaped  pink  piping  piratebox pixel  place place  plain  plain  planetarium  planetarium  planning  plans plant plant  plate  platinum  play  played  please  poem  point  pokes  police  pool  pop pop  portrait  post postplane  powerful  precede  precedents precision  predictable premium preparations present:  pressured  pressured  pretty  pretty  price  primergray  privilege  probably probably  production  professor  proof prosperityrelated  protected  public public  public  pulled  pure  purple  put  put  quadruplicate:  quaid  qualities  quibble  quickly  quiet  quoted  quotes  raise  rate  rather  react  reactions read  read  real real realize  really  really  reason: reasons  recipe recognize  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  record  redeeming  redesigned  reduced reenactors  reflective  refused  regard  regret  regular  relative  release  relief relief remember  remember  reminder  repair  report  reports  represent  representing  reproduced  require  resist  resist  respond  rest resting  restricted  results results  rewarding  rhythmic richards  richest  rider  right  rights  ringside  risk road roads roadsign  rode  roebling  room room  room  ropes  rotten  ruin rules run  running  runs  russell  s  sad safety  safety  said  salaries same  sandhog  sarah  saving  saw  say  say  scare  school school school  school  school  schoolteacher science  scratched  scream  screenplay season season season  seasonal seat  seats  secret  see see  see  see  see  see  seekers  seem  seems  seen  seen  seeps  sells send  send  send  send  sense sensitive  set  setting  several  several  shabby  shackles  shallow  shape  shattered she  she  she  she  she  sheets shelf  shirts  shit  shit  shit  shocked shore  shortly  shot  should  show show  show  shows sideburns  sides sides  sides  sidewalk  sigh  sign sign  sign  sign  signed signpost silent similar  since  sister  sixteen  skin slack  slag sled sleepwalking  sleeve  slides  slightly  slightly  slower slowing small  smaller  smashing  smell  sniff  snowmasked  so  so  so  so  so  so  so  so  so  so  society  soil  solid  solution  some  some  some  someone someone  someone  someone  something  something  something  something  somewhere somewhere  somewhere  somone soon  sort  sort  sort  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  sound  source  space  space  space  space  spacious spare  speak  speak  special  special  special  sped  speech speed  speedy  spend  spending  spent spiral spirit spirit:  spite  splendid  split spring  spyware square  square  stacked  standard  standing  stars  start start  state static  steady  steals  steam  sticking  still  still  stop stop  stop  stop  storage  storm  story  straight stranded strangers  stress  striking structure study  stuffed  suburban  subzero  suitcases  sun  super  super  supply  supposed  surface  surface  survival  swear  sweater swollen symbols  syracuse  systems  tabulate  tabulating  taken  takes  talking tank  tap  tasting  taught  tax team  team  tears  teens  teeth  tell  ten  tender tennyson terminator  terms  test  text  textures  textures  than  than  than  than  thanks  thanksgiving that that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  that  thats  the the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  the  theatrical  their  their  their  them  them  themselves  then  then  then  then  then  then  theory there  there  there  there  there  there  there  there  there  there  they  they  they  they  they  they  they  they  they  they  thing  things things things things  think think  think  think  think  think  think  think  think  thinking thinks  this  this  this  this  this  this  this  this  this  those those  thought  thoughtful  threaten  three  three  through through  through  through  through  through  throughout  tiburon  tiburon  tiedye  tilted time time time  time  time  time  time  time  time  timebased times times  times  tinny tire  tire  to to to to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to  to 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 wait  wait  waited waiver  wallets wander  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  want  wants  war war  war  warmer  warped  wars was  was  was  was  was  was  was  was  was  was  was  wasnt watch  watch  watch  watched  watching  watchmans  water  water  water  water  way  way  way  we we we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  we  wearing  weather weather  weather  weed  weekends  weensy welding) well  well  went  were were  were  were  were  were  were  wet what what what  what  what  what  what  what  what  what  what  what  whatever  when when when  when  when  when  when  when  when  when  when  when  when  when  where  where  where  whereas  whether  which  which  which  which  while  whistle  whitelisted  whittle who  who  who  who  who  who  who  whole  whose  why why  wife will will will  will  will  will  will  will  will  will  will  will  wind  wind  window  wiped  wiped  wire  wise  with with  with  with  with  with  with  with  with  with  with  within  woke  wonder wonder  wonderful  wont  woodpulp  words  wore  work  work  work  work  working  works world world  worlds  would  would  would  wrapped  wrinkled  write  written  years years  yellow  you you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  you  young  young  your  your  your  your  your  your  your  your  your  your  your  your  zero zero  zx80

And in the end the age exploded / The sort of shit that it encoded.

[Update: couldn’t bear to read these without the full rhyme scheme, so I updated it. Now all the poems conform to the original, a la


The Age Demanded Dot Info - Mozilla Firefox_2016-04-21_10-08-22)


Happy Continued National Poetry Month, friends! I made another thing. It’s an e-lit update to Ernest Hemingway’s “The Age Demanded.” Check it out: http://theagedemanded.info!

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It started as an idea in the electronic literature workshop I attended as part of the Hard Coded Humanities conference at the University of Rochester this weekend. It’s built using Kate Compton‘s Tracery. The port to the web wasn’t super tricky, but if you’re doing it yourself, pay special attention to what’s going on in app.js & grammars.js.

I admit it doesn’t make poems quite as tightly written as Hemingway’s original, but every combination I’ve read so far is kind of delightful. We lose some of the rhyme & meter of the original, but I thought that a variety of contemporary references was more important. Plus, sometimes it rhymes, and I think it’s fun to imagine that the tech nonsense is creating actual metaphors like Hemingway’s. Maybe it is!

Trying to think of another work to give a similar treatment to; there are already similar things going on with other short early 20thC poems like Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” and Williams’s “This is Just to Say,” & “The Red Wheelbarrow,” if you haven’t seen them.

The thing I struggle with on projects like this (including my prompt generator) is the effect of my own authorship– I get so excited about the loss of control that I have trouble balancing my interests. In this case I could certainly push this further to replicate the rhymes, meter, and metaphors more exactly but that reduces the degrees of freedom for open and wild unanticipated readings. On the other hand, part of me feels like I need to automate/massively source the language that goes into this to open it even more; most of these terms come from a) the original poem, b) internet marketing vocab lists, c) things mentioned at the conference, and d) just things from my mind that seem like charged nouns & verbs in our contemporary tech space. That means that there are only so many combinations and registers possible, and they are very much tied to my own experience and methodology. Maybe that is ok. It better be, because I’m basically done with this one.

I should also mention that the author names are a select list of anagrams of Ernest Hemingway, and probably my favorite among them is “Ms Whiny Teenager.”

My spiel from “Gaming the Archive” at SCMS 2016 in Atlanta

On Thursday, March 31, I was a panelist in a workshop at SCMS 2016 entitled”Gaming the Archive: The Challenges of Games Collections in Libraries, Archives, and Institutions?,” at the Society for Screen and Media Studies conference in Atlanta on Thursday, March 31, 2016. The panel included Chris Hanson from the SU English Department, Jennifer deWinter (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Ken S. McAllister(University of Arizona, Co-Director of the Learning Games Initiative Research Archive),and Judd Ruggill (Arizona State University, Co-Director of the Learning Games Initiative Research Archive).

We each gave a lil intro before the workshop; here’s mine:

Hi, I’m Patrick Williams, associate librarian at Syracuse U and subject specialist for English, Communication & Rhetorical Studies, Writing, and Linguistics. Two of those departments are responsible for a lot of the teaching, research, and interest in games on our campus, so I am the librarian to whom collection development in gaming studies falls. This is fortunate for me, because it’s something I’m excited about, but I am not an expert in games—and that may be fortunate for our campus because it means that my work in building our germinal gaming collection is by necessity very collaborative.


The library literature on gaming collections points out a few friction points around building sustainable, circulating gaming collections, and I’m sure that many in this room have encountered issues of this nature:

  • there can be a reticence in libraries to begin investing in gaming collections out of whole cloth
  • the costs associated with doing so can be seen as drawing away from building collections in “more serious” traditional forms
  • librarians may struggle to position these collections in alignment with the library’s mission and goals
  • the typical problems of discoverability, access, and outreach for getting new and perhaps unexpected collections into the hands of students and faculty.

Most contemporary academic libraries are both underresourced and overworked, and, hence, they can be conservative when dipping into new areas. Taking on any kind of new collection has implications that cascade across subject specialties, acquisitions, cataloging, and various service points. So these decisions are often slowed by the hundreds of thousands of cross-departmental meetings necessary to come to consensus on issues that affect the work of broad swaths of library staff.


Additionally, with new video games collections in particular, there is the chicken-and-egg problem of what to collect, how the choice of particular consoles constrains the titles one may collect. Add to this the variety of systems, their expense and upkeep, and the perception that the landscape of available titles is unwieldy, inscrutable, and incompatible with libraries’ vendor and budgetary arrangements.


Despite the fact that I may currently be struggling with some of these issues as we build our nascent collection, I am here to provide some ideas about how faculty and librarians may collaborate to address some of the perceptions that make building such collections difficult **that I hope will strengthen the arguments for doing so from both the library and faculty perspectives.


As Chris may have mentioned, one set of perhaps familiar challenges of our situation at Syracuse is that we began with a trio of needs involving gaming: a need for dedicated space, a need for hardware in the form of consoles, video screens, and furniture, and of course, the games themselves. Were this to be a burden falling only on the library, I would see it as almost insurmountable—budget and space-wise, tackling all of these issues simultaneously would make things instantly cost-prohibitive, the required decisions and planning so far above my pay grade I shudder to think what other pay grades there are.


Luckily, Syracuse is a large, siloed, and diverse institution that struggles with coordination across disciplinary and departmental walls. I’m sure we’re unique in that. I believe this has allowed Chris and I to identify some other people with common needs and simmering questions who, like us, were not able to address all of these issues simultaneously. What we’ve come up with are some mutually beneficial arrangements that have helped us to distribute the burdens of space, funding, and coordination among parties who have an interest in a successful and well-supported gaming culture on campus.


Chris mentioned the Digital Development Lab, which came out of conversations with our Campus IT department, who have a vested interest in reaching students with technology in all phases of campus life. The serendipitous thing I realized when we first met with them, is that they had available space and funding for hardware, but not the interest or expertise in building and maintaining collections that we have in the library (though they are interested in helping to fund such collections to ensure the spaces and hardware are used).


Furthermore, neither they, nor we at the library, had the expertise to make strategic decisions about which consoles and titles would make a suitable core collection to serve the research and teaching needs of our students and faculty. But of course, Chris and his graduate students have this expertise in bulk. So, long story short, the baby-strides we’ve made in the last year are the result of a deep and necessary collaboration among these three groups, and only hundreds of meetings. I feel we’re in a much better place than had any one of us gone it alone. And I am certain that each group is benefitting in some very satisfying ways.


What I hope to bring to the table today is an awareness of what library-related concerns around building new circulating gaming collections might be, and ways to address them that hopefully satisfy and benefit all of constituents. As many in this room are probably aware, people ask questions about games they don’t ask of other materials. Here are some answers to the questions that often come out of libraries.


Regarding aligning gaming collections to the mission of the library / university: if gaming is represented in any campus curriculum, it is the library’s responsibility to support it. To fail to do so is counter to any academic library’s mission. If, like in the case of Syracuse, there is an active faculty interest, and even a game studies minor on the books, there are your advocates and partners in planning for that support.


Regarding impact and value of these collections beyond those programs: Libraries are tasked with providing a variety of up-to-date materials for faculty and student use—and we see crossover among users’ disciplines and the collections they use all the time. It is not only historians who make use of our historical newspaper databases, for example. Games collections have similar additional potential audiences and also represent a fruitful tool for outreach and programming. They also engage multiple literacies, which libraries are on the hook to support.


Regarding the perception that the costs are too high: Libraries buy niche titles all the time. Academic monographs are ridiculously expensive. I spent $650 on a two-volume set of books last week. I regularly and gladly purchase DVDs from smaller distributors for upwards of $500 in support of single classes or departments. By comparison, games are cheap both in terms of cost-per-title, and, if properly represented, cost-per-use. I treat them as I treat books and DVDs, and draw from the same reporting funds to purchase them; we house them with our media collections. Consoles do represent a larger expense, but most libraries loan out laptops, video cameras, and other expensive technology with similar demands.


Regarding increased time and difficulty in ordering non-traditional materials: Again, as with films and small press, non-academic books, we already use Amazon and other vendors all the time. And though acquisitions departments can be reticent to purchase from second-hand markets, we often do so for out-of-print materials, and few have the pricing structures or quality control of something like Gamefly.


Regarding the perception that games aren’t the domain of academic libraries: check a few titles in worldcat; you can quickly see which nearby academic libraries have already done a better job of collection development that you have. In our case, it’s RIT.


I grant you that those aren’t all the possible concerns. And while they may over-simplify and leave out some of the issues, I think these will help faculty to work constructively with librarians in building collections around gaming. Caveats being that these concerns cover mostly current game titles, ignore online or subscription services, and deal mostly with software. But developing plans for loaning consoles, collecting older games and systems, and figuring out how to support subscription models are next on our to-do list for this project.


So, on that note, my questions for discussion are:

  • What are the biggest challenges to building sustainable circulating games collections on your campuses?
  • What partnerships are possible among games-interested campus constituencies that enable and strengthen a culture around gaming?


My Poem Prompt Generator for Found Poetry Review’s #NaPoMo series

I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to contribute a prompt for the amazing Found Poetry Review‘s April Impromptu series. So many amazing poets on that list!

I struggled to come up with a single prompt, so instead I made a little script that generates a prompt based on some random numbers, the Library of Congress Children’s Subject Headings, and some HathiTrust texts from about 100 years ago. Here’s my explanation of the project (which launched the series!) and the generator itself. Some sample prompts below.  Happy writing!

[quick update! 4/2/2016: it looks like nearly 500 people have used the generator to make almost 3,000 prompts since this tool was announced (including me). I’ll probably do another post of the poems that resulted– many have posted in the Found Poetry Review thread.]

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Media & Methods Collages at Carbon Culture Review

A bunch of collages from my Media & Methods series are up at Carbon Culture Review this month. The images are taken from discarded AV instruction textbooks from the 60s I got when I was in library school.  I spent some time on these at a little mini-retreat I took to Saltonstall Arts Colony in October. Heading back in a couple of weeks and will probably do more collage work to break up all the writing.

Some people have had trouble with the viewer over at CCR, so here they are in full giant form.

Transparencies for Overhead Projection



Still Pictures

Graphic Materials

WordPress Adapted from: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.