Arranging the Pieces: A Survey of Library Practices Related to a Tabletop Game Collection


  • Teresa Slobuski San Jose State University
  • Diane Robson University of North Texas
  • PJ Bentley West Slope Community Library



games, gaming, collection management, play



Objective – The purpose of this study is to explore collection development, cataloguing, processing, and circulation practices for tabletop game collections in libraries. This study used the term “tabletop games” to refer to the array of game styles that are played in real-world, social settings, such as board games, dice and card games, collectible card games, and role-playing games.

Methods – An online survey regarding tabletop games in libraries was developed with input from academic, public, and school librarians. Participants were recruited utilizing a snowball sampling technique involving electronic outlets and discussion lists used by librarians in school, public, and academic libraries.

Results – One hundred nineteen libraries answered the survey. The results show that tabletop games have a presence in libraries, but practices vary in regard to collection development, cataloguing, processing, and circulation.

Conclusion – Results indicate that libraries are somewhat fragmented in their procedures for tabletop collections. Libraries can benefit from better understanding how others acquire, process, and use these collections. Although they are different to other library collections, tabletop games do not suffer from extensive loss and bibliographic records are becoming more available. Best practices and guidance are still needed to fully integrate games into libraries and to help librarians feel comfortable piloting their own tabletop collections.


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Author Biographies

Teresa Slobuski, San Jose State University

Teresa Slobuski is the Research Services Coordinator at San Jose State University. She is the Sponsorship Coordinator for International Games Day @ Your Library and also serves on the executive board of the American Library Association’s Games and Gaming Round Table. Slobuski completed her master’s degree in library and information science at Rutgers University in her home state of New Jersey. Her undergraduate degree in English is from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She conducts research on a variety of topics such as the retrieval of non-text media, informal learning and the development of 21st century skills, and educational technology topics, especially the use of games as educational tools. Slobuski is also the faculty advisor for the SJSU TableTop Gaming Club.

Diane Robson, University of North Texas

Diane Robson is a Librarian at the University of North Texas. She has a BFA in Visual Arts and a MS in Library and Information Science. Ms. Robson manages collection development, cataloging, and outreach related to the UNT Libraries game collection. She is the past-President of the American Library Association’s Games and Gaming Round Table (GameRT) and co-chair of the ALA GameRT International Games Day Committee. Ms. Robson presents on game collections, makerspaces, and outreach in academic libraries.

PJ Bentley, West Slope Community Library

PJ Bentley is Librarian at West Slope Community Library in Portland, Oregon. He has a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of Idaho and an MLIS from San Jose State University. Bentley manages the board game, media, and graphic novel collections at his library and runs gaming and game design programs for community members of all ages. He has presented at the Oregon Library Association Annual Conference on how to develop and maintain a board game collection.




How to Cite

Slobuski, T., Robson, D., & Bentley, P. (2017). Arranging the Pieces: A Survey of Library Practices Related to a Tabletop Game Collection. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 12(1), 2–17.



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