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University City Library puts its game face on

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 9, 2012 - Phase two of the University City Public Library’s Building Common Ground program lifts off May 10 and 12, with "Gaming It: New School/Old School," presented in conjunction with the University City/Clayton AARP chapter.

The library is not playing any games with this event. It began planning in June 2011 and has been ironing out details ever since. The program was developed in response to the incidents involving large numbers of youth gathering in The Loop.

Participants young and old will have a multitude of gaming options available to them each day: video and electronic games, marbles, jigsaw puzzles, jacks, checkers, dominoes and even card games like Uno. Also available will be Wii console games and classic multiple-player board games like Monopoly or Blokus.

Youth Services Assistant librarian and gaming guru Amber Clark will help host the gaming and make sure everyone has what they need for the games. She describes her role as "optimizing the fun." She also said she hopes for a good turnout among younger people. “There have been a few kids who were interested; then again, when you mention getting prizes for gaming, most kids will try anything.”

Games will be stationed at different tables so competitors of all ages can rotate to play and mingle. It's that mixing of youth, seniors and those in between that's important. And thus, the awarding of prizes is keyed to people who cross the generational divide and partner with new friends. Library staff will be chipping in to nurture involvement and encourage people from one generation who are good at a game to help those of another who want to learn.

The program begins at 7 p.m. May 10 and repeats at 1 p.m. May 12. Both events will be held in the University City Library Auditorium on the 2nd floor. The American Library Association’s Public Program’s Office and the Fetzer Institute provided funding assistance for this program.

With regard to Building Common Ground, Reference Librarian Kathleen Gallagher said, “It has been a great success with over 35 people attending the first two facilitated conversations," which were based on Karen Armstrong’s book, "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life."

“The discussions have been fruitful and challenging. We have been privileged to have as our facilitator Carolyn Wright, on the faculty of the Aquinas Institute of Theology. I have been genuinely impressed by the depth and sincerity of our participants’ responses,” Gallagher said. The final session on the book will be at 2 p.m. May 20 at the library.

All of the Building Common Ground programs are free and open to the general public. For more information contact Kathleen Gallagher at 314-727-3150 or at kmgallagher@ucpl.lib.mo.us

The Common Ground program in general is designed to get different generations to come together and get to know each other in hopes of building civility, compassion and kinship in everyday life."Gaming It" is an offshoot of Game Night at the Library, a popular offering that takes place on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at the library.

Building Common Ground events:

A three-session book discussion of Karen Armstrong’s "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" on March 25, April 15 and May 20. Each of these sessions begins at 2 p.m. in the library auditorium. Carolyn Wright of the Aquinas Institute of Theology will serve as the moderator. Copies of "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" will be available to buy at the library.

Gaming it: New School/Old School on May 10 at 7 p.m. and May 12 at 1 p.m. in Lil’s Treehouse, the University City Public Library Gaming Room.

Express Yourself: Community, Compassion and Civility is a visual art exhibit that spans generations and cultures. For this art show, volunteer judges will be recruited from the book discussion and gaming event participants. The judges will work in pairs of one senior and one young adult. The exhibit is open to both kids and seniors and runs through the month of August at the University City Public Library Art Gallery.

Service Fair, a program of action, reflection and engagement, is scheduled for Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to noon in the University City Public Library auditorium.

The Public Insight Network, a program of the Beacon and the Nine Network of Public Media, is working with this project.