Dustan Archer is a nerd about a lot of things - you can be a fan of Star Wars and Star Trek, and don't let anyone tell you different - but his passion truly shines when he's talking about being a librarian for young adults. Youth and young adults are going through one of the hardest parts of life, and the library can provide a safe environment for them to be themselves. Dustan thrives on creating programming and events for teens to celebrate what they enjoy in an open-minded environment while additionally seeking out ways to incorporate educational material.
When Dustan isn't at the library teaching teens how to play board games, creating displays, constructing Summer Reading Programs and more, he can be found at home playing with his dog and enjoying his wife's company. Dustan also loves playing board games and video games with close friends, despite his friends' oft-refrained motto - "If Dustan loses, everyone wins!" Dustan enjoys building computers from their base components and reading about the newest upcoming technologies. Dustan is also a contributor for Teen Services Underground, a blog for young adult librarians.
Dustan has worked with children and young adults in multiple environments, including half-way houses, foster homes, and temporary shelters. Dustan has helped reunite families or support the creation of new ones as a social services case manager and plans to continue creating positive environments as a young adult librarian for youth to learn and grow.
The above background was for an event at the Gretna Public Library called "Minecraft in Real Life" and is one of the many ways librarians can incorporate gaming into the library. Gaming isn't just about violence as often portrayed in the media - it's about creativity, problem solving, cooperation, and much more.
Gaming in the library can include a wide range of activities and is scalable to the size of your library. In a small building that houses the Gretna Public Library, Dustan ran gaming activities such as "Minecraft in Real Life", created a new collection of board games, ran teen gaming and craft programs, and much more. For the most part, these activities don't take up much space and give youth another option for after-school activities. Additionally, board game publishers are often willing to donate games to libraries if you reach out to them!
So what all can youth and teens learn through gaming? Depending on the game, different skills can be practiced and acquired. Board games such as Pandemic and Forbidden Desert require all players to work together towards a common goal and utilize their character's role to complete the objective. Other games, such as Agricola and Settlers of Catan, teach resource management, economics, and negotiation skills. Pen-and-paper role-playing games can help enhance creativity and storytelling, while video games can help with reaction speed, fine motor skills, spatial awareness, and more.
Additionally - games are fun! What better way to learn than by having fun doing it?
This is a short informational video about the Gretna Public Library's Minecraft server that is provided for youth patrons ages 8 to 18. It was a huge hit and younger teens really got into it!
Completed and Future Projects
What He's Doing and Where He's Going
Board Game Collection
Dustan obtained materials for the board game collection from a variety of board game publishers and through generous donations from the Gretna Friends of the Library. The board game collection began general circulation in May of 2016 and has been extremely popular among young and old patrons alike! While a significant amount of work was invested to get this project off the ground, especially of the cataloger, all of the Gretna Public Library staff feel that having such a unique collection adds a lot of value to the patron's experience.
Summer Reading Program 2016
Dustan felt that the CSLP's Summer Reading Program (SRP) theme of sports could be better incorporated under all things game related. Dustan crafted a unique teen SRP brochure that had teenagers create their own summer reading avatar as if they were in a video game. As teens read books over the summer, they gained experience points and completed achievements in their log, and eventually earned prizes as they leveled up!
Video Game Circulation
Video games have been a hobby for Dustan since he was a young child, and many youth patrons have stated that circulating video games could help bring in teens that don't typically frequent the library. Dustan hopes to solicit donations from friends and local businesses in order to build a teen-friendly video game circulation in the near future.
Pen-and-Paper Role-Playing Group
Some teens have expressed interest in getting a group together to play games such as Dungeons and Dragons or The End of the World role-playing games. Dustan is hoping to create this group at some point in the future.