This summer, at Leith Library, with inspiration from the young people’s map of Leith, Leith’s Youth Services Network planned a whole programme of activities for young people this summer. With funds from our own Partnership and Information team and Community Safety team in the council we were lucky enough to get our hands on the equipment for an exciting new project for some of our younger readers to take part in – weekly gaming nights throughout the summer holidays.
The “equipment” in question was a delightfully shiny new XBOX 360 games console, and what’s more, a Kinect sensor to go with it. The Kinect is effectively a robot camera that tracks the game player’s movements – meaning that you don’t need to press buttons to control the game, but instead you can play it by jumping, dodging and diving, and sometimes just by waving your hands frantically around. This makes for a much more active gaming experience than just sitting in a chair and thumbing a controller – I have to admit that at times I ran out of breath, especially in the hot summer evenings!
We first launched the programme on 28th June with events in the Kirkgate. Scott from McDonald Road and myself went along and got involved a fun event with other youth groups from acros the Leith area — we even found time to shatter all librarian stereotypes with our five-a-side football skills (or so we’re going to keep on claiming…).
Some nights we had more kids and teenagers turn up to take part, sometimes fewer, but at least one always turned up, and on one memorable evening we had around ten eager, raucous participants, which was great fun … even if I did have to remind them to keep their voices down sometimes, as the ladies’ knitting circle were in the next room. The kids were fantastic, though, and organised whose turn was whose and which games they wanted to play with only the odd spot of careful supervision needed.
The project was also a good chance to collaborate with our sister library, McDonald Road. Our XBOX only came with one controller and one game, so we arranged to borrow some spares from McDonald Road to offer the kids a little variety – which meant having to get them back down there before McDonald Road’s own game nights! Either our Team Leader, Sandra, would organise this efficiently in advance … or, sometimes, I would simply dash into McDonald Road on my cycle to work, to stuff my backpack with games and promise Scott, that yes, I would bring them back, really I would.
The game nights were great fun overall. Whether I was helping one kid to guide a raft down a river by leaning to the left and right (and then suddenly having to JUMP to avoid an obstacle!), or just sitting back and providing a commentary as two of the older children developed a (mostly) friendly rivalry, it was a good opportunity to get to know a lot of our younger readers. I really enjoyed the buzz the XBOX nights created, too – the kids would ask me throughout the week when the next session was, which games we would have available…even who was going to turn up, though how I was supposed to know that is a mystery!
But best of all, it let us show the older kids that the library is for them. BookBug and craft events are wonderful for younger children, but giving something to our 10, 12 and 14-year-old readers is important too. To this end, Sandra and I have been figuring out the best plan for the XBOX and Kinect now that the summer project has ended. Huge thanks to our funders for helping us out with a great summer — we certainly won’t let those nice shiny games consoles go to waste.
So look out for games hour on Tuesday nights, starting soon here at both Leith Library and along the road at McDonald Rd. So if you are, or know, a teenager or young person who’d love to come down and play some Kinect, or hone their FIFA skills against some friendly competition – then come on down! Games Nights will take place at McDonald Road Library every Tuesday from 5.30pm, and at Leith Library from 6.30pm.