By Danielle Costello
Odum library has a board game collection of over 125 games that range from familiar titles like Clue and Uno to contemporary classics like Catan and Ticket to Ride. Our collection supports not only relaxation but collaborative and creative play with games like Dungeons & Dragons. We also work to find and add titles like Oceans that support academic departments at the university. Along with our games we also have programming to support discovery of the collection as well as help establish a stronger foundation between students and librarians as well as between students and their peers.
Our program pre-pandemic consisted of a variety of in person events. We’d host monthly game nights to allow students to meet up and connect with each other as well as give the librarians an opportunity to teach some of the more obscure or difficult games in the collection. Odum Library also provided how-to-play sessions to showcase educational games for the classroom or team-building games for university departments and organizations. For our tabletop role playing games, we created a teaching series, D&D 1101, to help students learn and get comfortable with roleplaying and collaborative storytelling. In addition to the introductory classes, we reached out to professors for a speaker series called TTRPG & Academia. Its purpose was to explore the intersection of games and research and show students how each area can enhance the other.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve moved our programming online. At the start of the semester we hosted a trivia night for freshmen through BlackBoardUltra, and have since then been using Discord, a VOIP program, to share gaming resources and host events. Teaching and playing tabletop role playing games online has been fairly similar to our previous experiences and continues to be a popular program for us. However, we’ve had to be creative for our board game substitutions and have taken advantage of free online resources from board game simulators to virtual escape rooms. Jackbox has also become a staple of game night with its wide variety of games and simplicity and it is our most consistently attended event. During International Game Week, we tested out asymmetric play with a variety of puzzles and will be rolling out more of this type of gaming in the upcoming semester.
We’ve kept up assessment throughout the shift from in person to virtual programming and email continues to be the best marketing tool for events. Though attendance is down by more than half across the board, the students that do attend continue to enjoy the programing with 78% saying they enjoyed the events ‘a great deal’ and 22% enjoying it ‘a lot’. Even though attendance numbers are down, the physical collection has shown increased usage with this November numbers almost double those from 2019. So while our events this year look very different from previous years, Odum Library continues to foster the joy of gaming in our students.
You can find out more about our collection and programing here: https://libguides.valdosta.edu/odumgames/home