Minecraft at the library

I remember when Minecraft first gained its popularity several years ago. According to WikiPedia, the PC version was released in 2009 as an Alpha and I was one of the few people who purchased Minecraft during this early development stage. I remember enjoying the new style of gameplay that Minecraft brought, but I was unable to convince any of my friends to play with me until mid 2010 when the game started to gain a spotlight. I was only in 10th grade at that time. Several years later, Minecraft easily attracts kids and young adults.

New things have a tendency to create abusers, or a least that is what older-me thinks. When I was in high school and Minecraft was a rare sighting in public, I would be pleased to know that someone else in the school library or school lab knew about this game. It didn’t bother me to see people using the library computers throughout the lunch break even though they made it impossible for me to find an empty computer to search for the books that I was looking for. Fast forward about four years later and it is now a common occurrence to see kids hoarding the computers to play Minecraft with their friends.

For most of my kid life, I was used to going to the library to read and meet others that read similar books as me and get book recommendations and recommend books to others as well. This sudden change turned my library experience upside-down when the library started to turn into a Minecraft hangout. Since then, it has been very rare to find other readers to have a conversation with. I guess after four years of this, dare I say, epidemic, I am getting used to it. But it wasn’t until just recently that I was left pondering how this is affecting the youth and library goers in general.

I made a trip to the library to type a report for a college class and to check out a couple of books while I was there. Normally I do my school work at home, but I was left without a laptop after a hard drive failure and took off to the library to finish up my work. I had not made a trip to the library in years to use the public computers because I remember always having trouble finding an empty computer ever since Minecraft became popular in the library scene. As soon as I enter the library, I stand in front of the computers and look for an empty computer. As I scan the computer section I notice that everyone, save for a few people, are using the computers to play Minecraft. In some sense I would consider this to be an epidemic. I manage to find an empty computer and head towards quickly it before another Minecraft player beats me to it. The screen asks me to input my library ID and so I do. Before I finish typing the ID I am told by the screen that the computer was reserved by someone. Sure enough, a boy walks up to me and lets me know the computer I am on is reserved. Predictably, he logs into Minecraft and joins his friends.

Eventually I figured out that in order to gain access to a computer I have to reserve it. The reservation computer prints out a ticket with an estimated waiting time of 45 minutes. Left with no other local option to finish typing my school report, I look through the library shelves and find a book by Stephen King, “The Gunslinger”, and sit down to read a couple of chapters while I wait for the queue to get to my turn. Those 45 minutes were long enough for me to realize how different the library has become since my youth days. As an avid reader I was very disappointed to not see any kids reading a book at my library. Minecraft is an obvious blame, but had you asked younger-me if Minecraft ruined the library atmosphere, I would have denied it. I really hope that the kids today are getting enough educational value to supplement for their lack of reading.

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