Redefining and reorganizing my library space has been a huge focus for me this school year. I am completely looking forward to next year, being able to have students back exploring and interacting in the library space. After a massive and much-needed weeding purge, I was brainstorming how to best use seven small shelves I had cleared. Thinking through a lens of student stress relief, communication with others, and resources to take and go home with, I decided on a board game and puzzle section.
Over the past few years I have fostered a relationship with my local teen public librarian. He and I collaborated on events for our teens each year. During one of our discussions previously he had shown me his board game section. He described it as a draw for the teens, a way to disconnect from technology and reconnect with friends. I put that idea in my back pocket for some day, not sure when that ever might be. Once I had this new found space from weeding, this idea came flooding back to me.
Teens need outlets that are fun, positive, and a change from the screens they inhabit all day everyday. These board games are hopefully a gateway for my students to get together with their friends and families in a positive and fun way. Laughing reduces stress, this we know. My hope with this game section is that students find relief from the stresses of their lives for just an hour at a time through play.
Start at Go
Starting the project was really just looking at the space. I had seven small bookcases with two shelves on each. Budget wise I gave myself $400-$500 as funding. I purchased all of the games through Amazon; the prices were easy to compare and I found games to be less expensive than going through a store like Walmart or Target. When thinking about which games to purchase I took into consideration age range, complexity, and what looked just plain fun. Here is a list of the games I have purchased so far:
- Unstable Unicorns
- Pick Your Poison
- Escape Room in a Box: The Walking Dead
- Dungeons and Dragons
- Conspiracy Theory Trivia Board Game
- Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment
- Exploding Kittens
- I Should Have Known That!
My hope is to add to the collection each year. I want to make sure that this space stays relevant and interesting to my students. It’s starting out small, but if I can show success in feedback from students and checkout numbers next year I plan to grow it to at least 20 games. My goal is to add metal fidget puzzles and wooden puzzles in the future.
When I stand back and look at my space my ultimate goal is to be what my school and students need. I want to offer items for checkout that will draw my students in and engage them with the library in a positive way. Will I lose pieces of games here and there? Definitely. Will I maybe get a kid out of a dark place with fun and laughter? I’m willing to try anything to make that a possibility. Who knows, maybe a student will come in to check out a game and leave with a book in hand as well. For all those reasons I’m willing to think outside my own box and try something new by offering board games.
Author: Elizabeth Pelayo
Elizabeth Pelayo is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the AASL AAUP Book Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the nominations committee for the ISLMA Abraham Lincoln Book Award.