Professional News

Library Science alumna uses gamification to encourage reading

Sammie Betler
Sammie Betler, a 2022 library science master’s graduate, has been working to break the stereotype of the boring, silent library.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 4, 2023) — In her role as interim director of the Casey County Public Library, Sammie Betler, a 2022 library science master’s graduate, has been working to break the stereotype of the boring, silent library.

Betler has recently focused on incorporating gamification into the library’s programming. Merriam-Webster defines gamification as “ the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation." Betler explained that by gamifying everyday tasks, we trick ourselves into being motivated to accomplish tasks that we might not want to do otherwise.

“For example, with children, you might challenge them to clean up a mess in a certain time limit or race with them to complete a task,” Betler said.

She also pointed out the affect gamifying can have on social interaction; for example, Betler shared a personal example of how she has seen reading alone versus having a reading competition with another person impact her library when it adopted the Reading Dragons program. Originally created by Dover Public Library in 2022, this program encourages a competitive reading incentive where participants receive a dragon trading card for every 30 minutes they read. There were nearly 500 participants in the library’s first year instituting the program, with competitors of all ages represented.

In her current role, Betler emphasizes her “ability to utilize her passion for creativity and problem-solving to meet the unique needs that rural libraries tend to face” also led her to explore other ways to bring gaming to her patrons.

Although she has previous experience working in libraries, Betler explained that the techniques and skills that she learned throughout her MSLS journey, have brought her to realize how each individual library operates uniquely and caters to a different audience.

Betler said that she is continuing to explore unique opportunities to gamify her library and cater to Casey County’s local audience. For example, Betler was able to use principles and best practices that she learned during her LIS 618 Games, Literacy, Meaning and Learning course to apply for and receive a $3,000 grant to purchase gaming consoles and games for library members.

“A lot of grant writing is simply being able to justify a need,” Betler said. A huge contributor to her justification for the Casey County Public Library grant was that gaming and gamifying are often misconstrued. Betler said many people hear gaming and assume it is in reference to video games, but this could not be further from the truth as gaming is for people of all ages and interests.

Betler advised any student interested in library science to enjoy the process and program, whether than involves learning grant writing, participating in an alternative spring break program or simply exploring their passions in a different way.

“This is an amazing opportunity that not everyone has the benefit of, so make the most of it,” Betler said. “Give yourself over to the learning journey and all that it entails, because you never quite know what sort of opportunities will be opened up to you.”

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