Stacks of classified fun

5th July 1996 at 01:00
The Library Game, Carel Press Pounds 19.95 + VAT

Can you find a German dictionary in the reference section? What kind of books will you find at 920? Could you find the dialling code for Ostend in your phone book? Play the Library Game and you'll soon find out how much you know - or maybe how much you don't know - about your school library.

Harassed school librarians and teachers will welcome an introduction to the library which is not only informative but fun. A board game for up to six players, the Library Game has echoes of Monopoly with its "How much do you know?" and "Lucky dip" cards, but it is a game with a serious educational purpose.

Players throw dice to go around the board. Depending on where they land they have to answer questions and perform library tasks to collect tokens. A sand timer gives the opportunity to notch up the excitement, while a set of blank "How much do you know?" cards allows a librarian to tailor the game to his or her own library. Even the detour to "Mr Dewey's House" has been kept as open-ended as possible, to accommodate different variations of the classification scheme and the use of card or computerised catalogues.

Aimed at children in the early secondary years, this game would be suitable for players aged nine and upwards, or special needs pupils higher up the secondary school. Players need some background knowledge to get the most out of it and teachers need to do some preparation in advance. Ideally, it would be played after a library introduction session or as part of a course of library and information skills. It is designed to fit the average lesson time and takes between 40 and 60 minutes to play.

And is it really fun? Well, the adult testers enjoyed themselves playing the game and one girl said it was "fun". Otherwise, the best verdict we could get out of our pupil guinea-pigs was that it was "OK" - which is probably about as good as it gets when you're a world-weary 12-year-old. But they all agreed that it showed them how little they know about the library. Now there's an opportunity for a bit of rapid instruction.

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