With the Dice in the Library: Tabletop Games and Culture

Brief Abstract

Nearly everyone has played some form of tabletop game in their life, whether dice, board, or card games. Indeed, the archaeological record shows humans have been playing games for at least 4000 years and have been an important socialization tool throughout this history. (Murray, H.J.R., 1952). As institutions that assemble artifacts of culture for future generations, libraries can and should include games in their collections. Indeed, some libraries have supported games and play for over a century, first documented when a chess club met at a library in San Francisco in the mid-1800’s (Nicholson, 2013). The early 20th century saw the emergence of toy libraries, established to support families in need by lending toys, board games, and other realia that support play (Moore, 1995). Today, more and more libraries are including tabletop games in their collections. In this session you will learn more about the history of games and their inclusion in library collections. You will also learn how tabletop/physical games can remain relevant and even thrive in our increasingly digital culture. Games and play are usually the first way humans and animals learn, so by understanding and engaging with the history of games participants may better conceive how games can fit into their teaching.


Teresa Slobuski is the liaison librarian for Teacher Education and Special Education at San Josè State University. She also serves as the Research Services Coordinator. In this role, she oversees the Research Department and liaisons with other library departments to provide excellent public service to SJSU students, staff, and faculty.

Extended Abstract