By Sam Ward
Over 25 years after its initial debut, Pokémon in all of its forms is still greatly popular amongst generations of players. Working off of this knowledge, Dade County Public Library started its own “Pokémon League” program in April 2022. This group meets twice a month for card battles, trades, and hanging out with fellow Pokémon lovers. Patrons who are new to Pokémon battling and trading are also encouraged to join as the group consists of several members who enjoy teaching the game.
Pokémon League encourages teaching fellow peers and more by incentivizing engagement through the trainer card system. Starting at the beginner level and going all the way up to elite status, these cards give patrons a number of challenges to level up. Challenges include attending meetings, battling fellow members, and learning through playing with “Gym Leaders” who are the most experienced members of the group. As patrons climb the ranks, they earn prizes such as ultra rare cards and collectable coins.
One unique aspect of this program compared to the rest of the programs offered at Dade County Public Library is that it is open to all ages. Through this, the library is able to offer a fun, safe environment for developing generational connections in the community. Many parents who played themselves when the cards first came out in the United States now bring their kids to the program as a family bonding experience. These parents as well as the kids who have enough experience to be resident experts help create a welcoming environment for anyone who is interested in joining.
The library also ensures everyone has the opportunity to play even if they don’t have a personal collection of Pokémon cards. Set out at every meeting are battle decks to borrow which have been put together to offer a balance of all the types of cards needed to play like trainers, energy, and starter Pokémon. Thanks to their large collection of donated supplies, the library is also able to offer attending patrons a number of cards every meeting ranging from common to ultra rare that they are able to keep for their personal collections. Beyond Pokémon cards, all the supplies needed to play, like playmats and coins, are offered to borrow as well.
This program continues to be well-attended by patrons, even during the transition period between the original Youth Education Coordinator who developed this program and the one who followed him. Programs like these help establish Dade County Public Library as a spot for community development, entertainment for all ages, and resources to learn new subjects and skills. They have even started putting out a display of related books at Pokémon League meetings to encourage members to check them out. Opportunities such as that offer gateways for patrons of any age to find a book they love to start their journey of lifelong reading and engagement with their local library.