Go Game, Young Person

go-equipment-narrow-blackFellow iSchool student Lauren McNeil writes about tabletop games as a great addition to any library/learning commons (link below).

I attended the June ALA conference in San Francisco last year and got a quick taste for tabletop games when I encountered a group playing Go.  I signed up to receive a free set of GO games for the library, but am sad to say that I’ve let them collect dust in one of the library storage cabinets.  NO LONGER!  I am inspired to get Go-ing on providing games for my patrons.

Lauren’s well-cited post (seriously, check out her reference list) reminds me of the importance of the learning commons as a place to play and connect.  To get into the spirit of the thing, I decided to Google popular board games for teens.  Tutor Doctor recommends games like Settlers of Catan and Equate in order to “improve memory, build social skills, develop strategic thinking skills, and even just learn more about the world and its history.”  I love to play Settlers of Catan  with my family, and I bet our high school students would like it too (especially on block days, when they’ll have plenty of time to play).

Lauren additionally reminds me that “In support of culturally responsive teaching, game playing can unite patrons of different backgrounds.”  So I looked up games that help in this category as well.  Hellogiggles’ Elena Zhang (2016) post, “10 superfun tabletop games that celebrate women and diversity” .  Included in the top 10 are many games that, like Settlers of Catan could take long hours of play (Dungeons and Dragons, Pandemic); however, Dixit is there!  How did I not think of Dixit?  If you haven’t played it before, please go out and try.  It’s definitely a game that anyone can play, and really gets people to see varied perspectives.  Anyway, I’m getting it!

My school is a pretty diverse population, and one of our missions is to build community.  How better to build community in my own corner of the school than to promote games that draw patrons together?

One final word: Lauren’s post also shows you ways to get board games on a shoestring budget.  Here’s her link: Info 233 Learning Journal, Week 8: Tabletop Games as School Library Game-Changers

The Learning Commons Showcase Showdown

Showcase showdown sign from the Price is Right TV GameshowLast year, I approached the art department about bringing in art installations or exhibits that showcase student work.  I was disappointed with the lackluster response, and have since had time to think about better ways to get students involved.

Then I saw fellow INFO233 SJSU iSchool student Thoai Truong’s recent July 18th post, “Art Displays in Library,” and was inspired by the resources and videos he provides. Thoai notes that the library is a fantastic place to exhibit student work and I agree!  This certainly accentuates the library’s role as a learning commons, where students have ample room to showcase their achievements (a key LC feature–see Carol Koechlin & Dr. David Loertscher’s 2014 Knowledge Quest article, “Climbing to excellence: Defining characteristics of a learning commons”).

I like Thoai’s ideas about using the learning commons as a place to display work for finals, or use the exhibits for art competitions.  Then I got to thinking about The Price is Right game show and the showcase showdown.  In the game, the showcase showdown is between the two contestants who have gotten past three other competitions.  The primary problem with the idea of competition is that although winners are able to bask in the attention, is the purpose or mission of the learning commons to display examples of excellent work, or is its mission to be a place where ALL students have a chance to exhibit?  (On a related tangent, think of Mary Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, who is forcefully ejected from the pianoforte bench at the Netherfield ball to allow “other young ladies time to exhibit” (p. 105)).

I would argue that there may be space for both, but when it comes down to it, the learning commons is best served as an equitable environment by various student examples.  Our Art 1 teacher currently utilizes a small wall space in the main office to display best student work, and our Advanced Art class has small glass display cases on either side of the entrance to the library, but no more.  Wouldn’t it be great if we had art hanging from the barn-like central ceiling?  Or display boards where the art changes periodically over the course of the year.  Or even areas where teachers could set out student work from their recent biology experiments or Lord of the Flies units.

This is the point where I have to admit that I have been bad about communicating the possibilities and the lengths to which I’d go to house exhibits.  Our INFO233 professor, INFO204 professor,  INFO237 professor, and INFO266 professor have told us time and time again that we need to advertise to advocate!  Here’s to a new school year where I dive into meetings with the Art department (and other departments) to get the word out about showcasing student work.  Perhaps our version of a showcase showdown will be more in line with getting a great set of exhibits to work and generating community involvement rather than competing for the glamorous prizes, but building participatory culture is a pretty glamorous prize.


Austen, J. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Scribner and Sons, 1918. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=s1gVAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=pride+and+prejudice&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjkl-CCzZjVAhWmwFQKHbqqCywQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=%22young%20ladies%20time%20to%20exhibit%22&f=false

Loertscher, D. & Koechlin, C. (2014, March/April). Climbing to excellence: Defining characteristics of a learning commons. Knowledge Quest, 42(4) 14-15. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/urlsa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiAgJ6LvMrUAhVI6mMKHTqbAH4QFghQMAU&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ala.org%2Faasl%2Fsites%2Fala.org.aasl%2Ffiles%2Fcontent%2Faaslpubsandjournals%2Fknowledgequest%2Fdocs%2FKQ_MarApr14_ClimbingtoExcellence.pdf&usg=AFQjCNE81kSXAozBfnmKvkhBXtq5dmvveg&sig2=G-VMICsHzL8_VxEu6Q68vQ

Showcase Showdown. The Price is Right Wiki. Fandom. Retrieved from http://priceisright.wikia.com/wiki/Showcase_Showdown

Truong, T. (2017, July 18). Art displays in libraries [Web log]. Retrieved from https://ischoolblogs.sjsu.edu/info/thoailearningjournal/