Here’s some good news on the video-games-and-violence front: Earlier this week, the board of the Elmhurst, Illinois, public library unanimously voted to keep M-rated games in the collection, despite a challenge from a small number of citizens who wanted them banned. In contrast to the library in Paterson, New Jersey, which last month blocked all online games on its computers for users under 12 years of age, the Elmhurst board members and library director Mary Beth Campe “made clear [that] they see the inclusion of the materials in the library’s collection as an issue of First Amendment freedom of expression.”
Campe pointed out that there is no evidence linking video games to violent crime, and that games should be treated just like books and other media in the library’s materials selection policy, which aims to build a collection containing “the widest possible diversity of views and expression.” Board member Jan Vanek concurred, pointing out that the library keeps the Harry Potter and Fifty Shades of Grey series in its collection even though some people consider them objectionable, and video games should not be any different. Campe and the board’s level-headed consideration of video games as just another form of expression, on even ground with books, movies, music, and other library materials, is laudable and offers hope in the ongoing attacks against video games.
Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.