Getting the most of RPGS in your Library PT. 4: Into the world of LARP

I have a confession to make. I have neverattended a full weekend LARP event or a full LARP game. I understand the fascination withit, but I have not done so yet. Why am I writing this then? Because I believethat LARP is special. I used to make fun of it, but I’ve come to understand that it provides a unique outlet for the pressures ofday to day life. Also, I have seen it succeed.

So what is LARP? LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing. The players, like intabletop game, develop characters based off an established setting or system. It is a little more common for the setting to be “homebrewed”, meaning it wasdeveloped by one of the individuals involved. One individual or moreindividuals in a LARP act as GM’s. They control the overallstory line of the event, mediate arguments and organize LARP events.

Much of what goes into planning a LARP is similar to a tabletop game. The difference is that LARP eventsare physically acted out. Like one giant exercise in improvisational theater. Continue reading Getting the most of RPGS in your Library PT. 4: Into the world of LARP

Making it Pop: Introducing Trendspotting

It’s Valentine’s Day, and few things inspire a teen’s undying love like their favorite musicians, actors and other celebrities.

Screaming teenagers wave a crude sign as they welcome "The Beatles" - Britain's shaggy-haired rock n' roll singers - upon their arrival at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, February 7th
Screaming teenagers welcome The Beatles at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, Feb. 7, 1964

For some of us, keeping up with the ever-changing pop culture scene can be difficult. My very favorite session from the 2012 YALSA Lit Sympsoium in St. Louis was “Make it Pop: How to Use Pop Culture in Your Library,” presented by YALSA stalwarts Sarah Wethern and Scott Rader. I personally learned about many things that had missed my attention but which might give me a little more street cred with my young people.

So I’m terribly thrilled that Sarah and Scott will be highlighting pop culture here on the YALSA blog, a sort-of ongoing, serialized version of their awesome presentation called Trendspotting. Look for it on Thursdays. I expect it will become a go-to resource for those of us wanting to keep our fingers on the pulse of all that is new and cool to leverage it for our library programs.

Continue reading Making it Pop: Introducing Trendspotting

Getting the most of RPGS in your Library PT. 3: Tabletop RPG Programming

This article is about programming for Tabletop’ role-playing games. ‘ If you have questions about this post or you would like to request that I focus on something specific next, please contact me’ @MichaelBuono‘ on twitter. ‘ Feel free to share your own programs and ideas in the comments section, or you can reach out to me if your internet shy. My email is Have a safe and healthy New Year.

Getting the most out of RPG’s in your Library PT. 1: Intro

Getting the most out of RPGs in your Library PT. 2: Collection Development

Programming is easily one of the most difficult parts of our jobs. First of all, it involves a ton of planning. Secondly, it directly involves other humans. That makes it difficult to predict exactly how things will go. ‘ Before I became a librarian, I was well prepared for the task. In addition to prior job experience, I was a game master. I ran games that spanned years of characters’ lives, and that took two years worth of Tuesday nights to run.
Continue reading Getting the most of RPGS in your Library PT. 3: Tabletop RPG Programming

Getting the most of RPGS in your Library PT. 2: Collection Development

This article is about collection development for Tabletop games. LARP games will get their own love in a post about LARP programming. If you have questions about this post or you would like to request that I focus on something specific next, please contact me @MichaelBuono on twitter.’ 

Collection Development for niche hobbies is difficult. The materials are not as well reviewed as we would like, they are expensive and there is a limited audience. My friends and I have easily a thousand dollars worth of books. That says nothing of our dice, figurines or random medieval weapons. But we are fans first, and so we buy things we don’t need. There are ways to develop a collection to support the hobby without busting your budget. ‘ First and foremost, only buy the titles that reflect the interests of your teens. I have included a list of recommended buys at the bottom of the page.

Continue reading Getting the most of RPGS in your Library PT. 2: Collection Development

App of the Week: Slender-man

Title: Slender-man

Platform: ‘ iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later

Price: $0.99

Slender-man is a game created in July of 2012 based on the legend of the Slender-man, who is known to only be seen by children just before he reaches out and grabs them. This game has developed a cult following of teens and tweens everywhere and in particular, at my library. I was first introduced to this game over the summer when I noticed a group of kids playing it on a computer. Suddenly, they all jumped back and screamed. As the screen went fuzzy, an image of a thin man’s face appeared on the blinking monitor. “If you see that, that basically means you have lost the game.” One of the teens informed me.

Continue reading App of the Week: Slender-man

App of the Week: Minecraft Explorer


Title: Minecraft Explorer Pro
Platform: iOS
Cost: .99




Tired of switching between windows as you pause your Minecraft game and open your browser to look something up on the Minecraft Wiki?’  This hand-held reference for your mobile device has all of the crafting recipes and mob facts you need, as well as an Enchantment guide, a Skin Studio (in app purchase of an additional 1.99), seed codes to type in for different map results,’  and a list of Minecraft servers, where you can keep track of your favorite places to play.’  The app includes links to the Minecraft Wiki for more detailed information, but is organized visually for quick browsing that is fast and user friendly. Continue reading App of the Week: Minecraft Explorer

App of the Week: Angry Birds Space

Title: Angry Birds Space

Cost: $0.99

Platform: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (s), iPod touch, iPad, and Android. Requires i0S 4.0 or later.


The pigs are back to try to outsmart the birds, but this time they meet their fate in…space! Rovio Mobile, the same company that developed all of the previous Angry Birds games, has just unveiled the newest addition to the Angry Birds game family, Angry Birds Space. This game has all of the same excellent and addictive features as its predecessors, plus more. Since launching just last week, the app has already been downloaded over 10 million times! What makes it so cool? Well, the battles between the pigs and the birds take place in space where there are gravitational force fields and the game has new varieties of birds with special abilities, such as the bird who can freeze things by casting an ice shield when launched. This game is really fun and a must for teens who already enjoy the original Angry Birds games. Continue reading App of the Week: Angry Birds Space

Learn, Quest, Play: ThInk Big

Have an abstract concept to solve like, figuring out what is needed for the library in order to create the kind of experience we want for our teens? Ask our teens what they want from us.

Sure we may hear things like, ‘a roller coaster’, ‘a swimming pool’, ‘a McDonald’s attached to the library’. Then it’s our turn to ask those probing questions (we’re Librarians after all, we are likely familiar with the reference interview). We add a variable by saying something like, I don’t know that we could have a McDonald’s but what about better food in the library?’ It’s the teen’s turn and they suggest a compromise in their original idea because they understand context and figuring out another way to do something (think ‘choose your own adventure books!’) and suggest a snack bar. By then you might be thinking to yourself, ‘why not, why couldn’t we have a snack bar and what would that even look like?’ Maybe it turns out to be allowing food in the library where there once never was before. Seemingly small change but HUGE impact.
Continue reading Learn, Quest, Play: ThInk Big

App of the Week: Michael Jackson The Experience HD

Title: Michael Jackson The Experience

Cost:’  $4.99
Platform: iPad: requires iOS 4.2 or later

When Michael Jackson The Experience came out for Xbox Kinect every teen in my library wanted to give it a whirl, but some were too shy to shake it in front of their peers. This excellent iPad app is a great alternative for teens who just aren’t comfortable doing their best rendition of “Thriller” in front of an audience. In this format, they can let their fingers do the dancing and save themselves some humiliation, all while taking part jamming out to MJ’s classic hits like “Beat It,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Blood on the Dance Floor, “and much more. Don’t see your favorite song included in the game? No worries, you can download other songs through the in-app purchase function.

The game functions by using your fingers to make a series of swipes across the screen, following the prompts for each impending dance move. When this happens, the Michael Jackson avatar comes to life and performs real Michael Jackson signature moves. Thankfully, the game is not sensitive to how large you make the signs or where on the screen you make them; just as long as you perform the correct “swipe motion,” your move will be properly executed. The animation and game graphics are amazing and will not let you down. Continue reading App of the Week: Michael Jackson The Experience HD

The Reason for the Season

With Thanksgiving over, winter break is fast approaching, and for most of us, that means an influx of teen patrons and their younger siblings. ‘ So, what’s a librarian to do with all these kids and teens? Frequently, winter wonderland story times and activities that are geared toward younger siblings are much too childish to interest our teen patrons, and holiday crafting programs that would interest teens are far too complicated for their younger brothers and sisters. Here are some fun activities that will have both your teen patrons and their younger siblings coming back for more. Continue reading The Reason for the Season