Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Qualified Success: National Gaming Day

Humans vs. Zombies has spoiled me. The first time I ran it at my library, I had just under fifty students attend, and the second time I had sixty-four. This is on a campus that has roughly 1,200 students, too. I'm used to running gaming events that students love. So, when we only had eleven students show up at our National Gaming Day board game event this past weekend, I was underwhelmed.

My boss was there, and after he and I talked, I can guess at some of the factors that contributed to the smaller turn out:
  1. There was a football game happening on campus at the same time as our event. Further, it was the last game of the season.
  2. It was gorgeous outside. Sunny, a little breezy, and cool but not too cool. I'm not sure I would have been inside if I hadn't had this event to run.
  3. The event ran from 1 PM to 4 PM. When planning the event, I thought about whether or not college students are typically up before 1 PM on a Saturday. At this point, I think they're probably awake, but I don't know if they're out and about (unless there's football involved).
There are some other factors that may or may not have been involved, like where National Gaming Day fell in the course of the semester. For my institution, it fell between the second to last and the last week of the session (our semesters have a twelve week session and then a three week session). Also, it was an off weekend for our program that is geared towards non-traditional college students. Finally, maybe the choice of board games over console or live action role playing contributed.

Here's the thing: considering all we had going against us, we actually did fine. This was our first foray into National Gaming Day territory, and we learned a lot from the event. Also, the students who came to eat pizza and play Clue and Sorry and Uno and Scrabble had a great time. Finally, some of the students who came on Saturday have never been to an event I've run before.

I've decided to call this one a qualified success, and to apply what I learned this year to our event next year. Honestly, though, I missed the zombies.

How about you? What makes a library program successful in your opinion?


  1. When I was there, I never did any campus events on Saturday. I always had to work, had other plans or was at home. It was a great time to go off campus because you could park your car on the street overnight. Friday nights seemed to be more a "go out and do things on campus" kind of night. But what do I know, it's been almost ten years :-)

    Seriously, though, there are so many factors. Here, we tend to get a lot of people for certain things (I have one co-worker who thinks anything under 85 is a failure). But depending on the program, I revise my idea of success. I had a program on art preservation - a niche thing, for sure - and was happy I had 7 (I thought for sure I'd have 3 or 4). I imagine it's different for every library.

    The co-worker mentioned above seems to think it's a waste of tax dollars to put the energy into niche programming, but I don't think so. I didn't pay the presenter, and I think I spent maybe an hour doing the publicity, meeting room setup, thank you note, etc. For yours - okay, it's not tax dollars, but you bought the pizza. Any other costs associated? And you built good will among the students. I'd say it's a success.

    Sorry for the long rambling rant. Programming is a big thing for me.

  2. Interesting. But there was one massive cultural event last week that warped the attendances at various things here in Britain for a few days, from cinema trips to how crowded pubs were, even events put on for kids in socially deprived areas (in some of these events in one part of Birmingham, England, none of the kids turned up). This may well have had an affect on the attendances of your, and other library, events over the weekend.