Conference Sessions


The Libraries, Games, and Play conference welcomed over 80 attendees from across the United States for engaging keynotes, informative panel presentations, and educational workshops. The following session descriptions and photos present a small sense of the energetic discussions and camaraderie among the librarians, teachers, and administrators who participated.

Keynote - Lindsay Grace

Knight Chair of Interactive Media, University of Miami (FL)


Lindsay gave a rousing presentation to kick off the day’s event that stressed the importance of play in creating engaging educational experiences. Professor Grace praised the efforts of librarians to spark curiosity in impressionable youth. He traced his own interest in game design and programming to the well-worn copies of Nibble magazine he devoured at his local public library.

Lo-Fi, Hi-Tech, Super Fun. Is it possible?

Moderator: Chloe Varelidi


In this provocative session, game designer Chloe Varelidi moderated a lively discussion of the successes, failures, and challenges of designing game-based learning in low resource settings. Panelists Elizabeth Newbury (Wilson Center), David Saunders (Fenn School), and Yusef Ahmad (MIT) provided detailed descriptions of their “play-focused” game programs.

Getting Started with Games

Moderator: Jennifer Boudrye


This panel presented a wide-ranging discussion that explored the myriad ways libraries can include games of various types  in their educational offerings. Talks by Thomas Knowlton (NY Public Library), Henry Dragenflo (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh), and Sandy Farmer (formerly Houston Public Library) covered topics that ranged from early computer programming courses for young children, critical analysis in “game clubs” modeled after “book clubs,” and how game programs can boost library attendance and circulation

Teaching Game Design in Libraries

Moderator: Lindsay Grace


Can librarians provide educational courses that teach students how to build their own games? Panelists Chris Durr (Sacramento Public Library) and Juan Rivera (Orlando Public Library) not only demonstrated how their game design courses gave youth the tools, knowledge, and guidance to convert their game concepts into downloadable mobile apps, but they also provided examples of children who expanded their horizons through game building.

Games as Media Literacy and Game Modding Workshop

Moderator: Bob Hone


In this lively session, Asst. Professor Bob Hone (AU Game Lab) reported on the tremendous success of the AU Game Lab Factitious news game, which has been played more than one million times since July 2017, with nearly 2/3 of the games played in libraries and classrooms. Librarians Leah Canner (Baltimore Public Library) and Kenny Nero (Ron Brown High School, Washington DC) described how they had created custom versions of the game using the Factitious game platform.

Integrating Games and Pedagogy

Moderator: Chris Harris


Game designer and author Chris Harris (Libraries Got Game!) moderated this analog-focused session that explored how well-designed board games align with Bloom’s taxonomy for educational experiences. With Library Assistant Erin Walter-Lerman (Justice H.S., Fairfax, VA ) and Librarian Kristie Miller (Alexander Central Schools, NY), Harris led session participants in a hands-on workshop to modify, or “mod”, board games to feature educational goals.

Constructing a College Library Game Collection

Moderator: Derrick Jefferson


Asst. Librarian Derrick Jefferson (American University Library) provided a step-by-step framework for building and curating a university game collection. As Jefferson and AU colleagues Emily Lelandis and Donna Femenella explained, the success of an academic game collection crucially relies on productive collaborations with local game store resources. Kathleen Donohue, proprietor of Labyrinth Game Shop in Washington DC, described how her store provided that key link.

Keynote: Paul Reynolds

Author and Co-Founder of FableVision


Co-founder of FableVision and award-winning author Paul Reynolds capped the exciting and productive conference with an engaging presentation on the importance of nurturing creativity in today’s youth. Leveraging his work on popular children’s books Going Places and the Sydney and Simon Series and his deep love of libraries, Paul recounted several poignant examples of children “finding their voice” in creativity workshops led by passionate librarians.