The weekly web series This Week in Libraries (TWiL) features Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) Associate Professor Scott Nicholson in a 25-minute video about the power of games in libraries.

“What you can bring in is passion in people,” Nicholson said when host Jaap van de Geer asked what games can do for libraries. “Games motivate folks, and if you use that motivation appropriately, you can get people engaged with each other—people who didn’t know each other coming to the library and crossing social boundaries.”

Van de Geer interviewed Nicholson in Sweden about his recently released book, Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages, for the seventeenth video in the TWiL series.

Nicholson is an advocate for gaming in libraries because it not only creates a social environment for patrons of all ages but it engages people with other library services and doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money to do gaming,” he said. “You can have a really cool game show or a treasure hunt that can be just as engaging as with a console.” Nicholson added that a big goal of his book is to provide a way for librarians to evaluate the effectiveness of the games on the overall library mission.

According to Nicholson, gaming also provides a way for libraries to expand their boundaries and reach a wider audience. Nicholson and van de Geer referenced a library conference in Australia in which Nicholson set up a talk in the popular online game World of Warcraft (WoW) and interacted with WoW players who weren’t at the conference.

“We’ve got to step beyond those boundaries, because, otherwise, libraries are going to shrivel up and die if we’re not out there doing something unusual,” Nicholson said. Programs like TWiL and his own YouTube gaming channel, he said, were a way for libraries to step beyond established library walls. “If you want to help make a difference and figure out how libraries can go beyond their borders, come to Syracuse University,” he said with a laugh.

An educator, librarian, game designer, host of the “Board Games with Scott” video series, Nicholson also founded the Library Game Lab of Syracuse and has taught courses on gaming in libraries, including one that is available to the public via YouTube. He started the Games and Gaming Members Initiative Group for the American Library Association in 2008, gives workshops around the world about gaming in libraries and has written many articles on gaming in libraries, most of which can be found at the Library Game Lab’s blog (

Nicholson earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with computer science, and a master’s degree in library and information science at the University of Oklahoma, and a Ph.D. in information science from the University of North Texas. His research focuses on the intersection of games, gaming, and libraries, as well as bibliomining and web searching.