Saskatoon Public Library to shut down video game lending on Nov. 1

The Saskatoon Public Library's video game lending service will be discontinued on Nov. 1.  (Guy Quenneville/CBC - image credit)
The Saskatoon Public Library's video game lending service will be discontinued on Nov. 1. (Guy Quenneville/CBC - image credit)

After more than a decade of lending video games, the Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) will discontinue the service at the end of the day on Nov. 1.

The library started lending out video games as a pilot project in 2012. It now has about 2,000 Nintendo Switch, Wii, Playstation and Xbox games in its collection.

According to an announcement on the library's website, the service is being discontinued because the video game collection is expensive to maintain, serves a relatively small number of patrons and has been a target of theft.

Amanada Lepage, SPL's director of collections and service infrastructure, said the library will divert funds from video games to eBooks and eAudiobooks.

"We've seen demand just increase exponentially for those kinds of materials over the years, " Lepage told CBC Radio's The Afternoon Edition host Garth Materie.

SPL will still keep some video games for use in the gaming rooms at the Rusty Macdonald and Round Prairie branches.

"One of our goals for the library is to create a welcoming space where the community can gather to make social connections, and the reality is video games create a social connection," Lepage said.

"We've seen lots of friendships made and developed in our video game rooms for the teens, adults and seniors in the neighbourhood."

Regina Public Library expanding video game lending service

The Regina Public Library has been lending out video games for the past five years. It now has around 4,300 games in its collection.

The library recently expanded the service from just the Central branch to the George Bothwell, Sunrise and Sherwood Village libraries.

Cerys Gordon, the Regina Public Library's collection lead, said the service has been a hit for families.

"We're seeing there's a demand for families. People may not have a lot of extra money and games can be expensive," Gordon told CBC Radio's The Afternoon Edition.

"They can borrow them for a month and play through the game, or borrow them and say, 'maybe we will invest in buying this game because we all enjoyed it.'"

Alexander Quon/CBC
Alexander Quon/CBC

Gordon said there are currently no plans to discontinue Regina's video game lending service.

"Not everybody is a reader, but everyone enjoys a story," Gordon said. "I think video games are a legitimate way to enjoy a story.'

Gordon said keeping the video game lending service available will be challenging as technology continues to develop.

"I wouldn't be surprised by the end of this decade if everything on a disc is gone."