Brooklyn Public Library Gets $3 Million Grant To Bring An Xbox To Every Branch

A group shot of Assemblymembers and library staff at a funding celebration at the Central Library this morning. (Photo by Gregg Richards)
A group shot of Assemblymembers and library staff at a funding celebration at the Central Library this morning. (Photo by Gregg Richards)

New York State Assemblymembers have determined bringing video game consoles (and other technology) to every Brooklyn Public Library branch is a high priority, and have secured $3 million in state funds to see their vision through.

According to a press release, “the equipment will help BPL establish a baseline level of technology in each branch and customize digital offerings to meet the unique needs of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods.”

While it is difficult to understand how these digital offerings are in any way customized, new technology will obviously be hugely beneficial to local libraries, which have ubiquitously outdated computers, a heavily used resource.

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Library staff members helped choose the equipment and will aid in the effort to show library patrons how to use it. The technology will also augment STEM programming currently offered at each library.

The equipment to be received by each branch includes:

  • Video game console: Xbox, PS4, or Wii
  • Portable PA system (for the 2/3 of our branches who do not already have)
  • 5 iPad Airs 2
  • MacBook Pro
  • Windows Laptop
  • Flatscreen TV 50 – 55″
  • Lego Robotics kits
  • Little Bits kits

What do you think, is this a good use of state money, or could this cash would be better funneled towards public transit, or rapidly aging infrastructure? Or dangerously potholed roads?

Just earlier this month, BPL president and CEO Linda Johnson noted at the reopening of the New Utrecht Library branch that the New Utrecht Library alone requires “$5 million in projects”, including extensive exterior work, to be “what it needs to be.”

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  1. Microsoft shareholders rejoice! We can all be glad those kids won’t be reading books, yuck. Could you imagine if they did something really wasteful like maybe investing that $3 million in some software programs used to create the videogames so kids could take classes to learn that skill? Thank god they didn’t do that.

  2. Well, it seems fitting that Linda Johnson is spending three million dollars on game consoles (and other things) when she’s been selling off BPL real estate to high-ish bidders who are razing them in order to erect condo complexes.

    Condo complexes with greatly shrunken libraries located in the basements.

    With fewer books in them.

    Books? When more and more, jobs absolutely require the ability to read difficult material and to concentrate? To focus and slog through hard stuff? Oh, never mind books, they say.

  3. Video games in libraries?? Seriously? Perhaps the BPL press release would have been more informative if it gave some examples of exactly how this “technology” would be used for STEM education. Just having it doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies on this expenditure of public funds.

  4. I already forbid my children from going to the library at Cortelyou/Argyle because all they do is use the computers to play games, or watch over other kids’ shoulders. Of course I tell them to read instead but it’s a never-ending battle that I’d rather just avoid. At least they read at home, where screens are not so readily available.

  5. Libraries already have music, movies, and comics.

    I can’t think of a reason why video games, or any other popular medium, should be categorically excluded from their collection.

  6. Comic books are a legitimate form of reading books, most comic books today have more complex story lines than a lot of the popular fiction books or TV shows so that doesn’t fall anywhere in this category.

    Music and Movies are a questionable need from the library but there are people that study movies (people within the film industry) or even music (artist looking for inspiration or samples) so its a stretch as to why the library needs it and not some local shop but its reasonable.

    Videogames however is pretty far fetched to see why they would be needed at a library. I’m not against kids playing video games, I grew up playing them and I’m fine with kids playing them but there is no educational value to them. Even tablets are highly questionable because these are forms of entertainment that are meant to dumb you down. Tablets take any need to understand how anything works out of the equation so that you just need to press a button and everything pops up. Video games can present puzzle like problems but if you’ve seen console games today they are very dumbed down. Most games let you see where all of your enemies are for instance so you don’t have to be “surprised” or thinking through strategically how to go through a level, if you get hit, just hide and your health will come back. If there is a puzzle that you get stuck on for more than a minute it will just tell you what to do with a pop up hint (not to mention most of the puzzles have been made so simple you kind of need to be brain dead not to figure them out). Video games are a great form of entertainment but they are the opposite of educational today. The money should have been spent on resources that could teach kids how to program their own simple video games (kind of like a lot of place do with build your own robot for kids, it teaches programming in a fun way). This was a terrible waste of taxpayer funds, someone will be fired for this just like in LA.

  7. When discussing film and music you justify their existance at the library using professional adults, but when discussing video games switched to children.

    Is it not equally valid that a professional game developer would be analogous to someone in the film industry? Do children not rent movies from the library for recreational purposes? I don’t see the distinction.


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