Friday, April 1, 2011

Gamification in the Library

Wouldn't it be nice to be rewarded for your good behaviour?  Well, that's the theory behind "gamification" - the idea that people enjoy playing games because of the positive reinforcement from doing something well.

In Sweden, authorities have been using this theory to encourage people to obey the speed limit.  They use photo radar not only to catch speeders but to reward those who drive either at or below the speed limit.  Those who follow the rules are entered into a draw to win a portion of the revenue collected from those who speed.  By making it into a game, they are encouraging more people to obey the law.  Cool idea eh?

Well, librarian Brian Herzog (The Swiss Army Librarian) came up with the idea of using this theory to encourage patrons to bring back their books on time.  Rather than focusing on fines for overdue items, patrons are encouraged to practice responsible borrowing by being rewarded for abiding by due dates.  The reward can be small, such as being entered into a draw for a gift certificate.  Try this out for a week or a month and be creative with the rewards offered.  Be like the Swedes, use the theory of gamification to encourage good behaviour.

(Source: The Swiss Army Librarian,, March 31, 2011)

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