bookncomputerAdventure in Libraryland

By Galadriel Chilton, Gretchen Regehr
and Su-Tuan Lulee for course EDTEC 670, SDSU



| Instructional Objective | Learners & Context | Object of Game | Game Materials |

| Time Required | Rules | Design Process | References | EDTEC Assignments Home

Instructional Objective

.Adventures in Libraryland is designed to help undergraduate college students learn information literacy skills. The game focuses on what are different types of resources and what are the library resources and services that will enable students to retrieve information.

The game introduces players to content that will help them answer the follow questions:

  • What is a library catalog? 
  • How to find books?
  • What is Interlibrary Loan? 
  • What are course reserves?
  • What is a reference librarian and how can he/she help with research?
  • What are article databases?
  • What is a citation, abstract for a journal article, book, etc.?
  • What is the difference between search connectors AND, OR, and NOT?
  • What is peer reviewed and other distinctions between different kinds of resources, particularly between newspaper, magazine, and scholarly journal articles?

Librarians often introduce the content of this game to undergraduates during their freshmen year. However, throughout their course work and as they complete research assignments, their information literacy skills should refine and advance.

Learners & Context of Use

This game is designed for undergraduate college students of traditional or nontraditional college age as the primary audience. Students' existing knowledge of the game's content will vary depending on factors such as the students' high school information literacy experiences, comfort with computers, discipline of study, and whether students have attended information literacy sessions as part of their college career.

According to the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, there are over 15 million undergraduates enrolled in higher education institutions for the 2007/2008 school year. Of these students, 63% are between the ages of 18 and 24 and 36% are over 24.

The slight majority of the traditional-aged students are often called 'Millennials' or 'Next Gen' learners that "are a huge generation of impatient, experiential learners, digital natives, multitaskers, and gamers who love the flat, networked world and expect nomadic connectivity, 24x7" (Sweeney, R.).

How librarians choose to implement this game as part of an information literacy instruction session may vary. The game could be played as a means of introducing students to library services, resources, and terminology, or it could be played after a traditional information literacy instruction class as a means of assessing student engagement and learning. However, for students to have the most fun with the game, the designers recommend that students have some knowledge of the library resources and services before playing the game.

Object of the Game

The goal is to be the first player or team to obtain the 5 Resource Symbols needed to cover all 5 spots on the Research Bibliography Card. The first team to earn enough Resource Symbols for all of the resources on their Research Bibliography Card wins.

Players will either earn Resource Symbols outright or earn Point Tokens that they can exchanged for Resource Symbols.

Game Materials

Includes a pathway along which player pieces travel. The path is divided into various squares with directives for players:

    • Pick a Research Assistant Card
    • Pick a Master Researcher Card
    • Pick a Research Event Card
    • Blank Squares
  • 4 Team Player Pieces
    (the game is designed to be played by teams, but can be played by individuals)
  • 1 Die
  • 1 Librarian Figure


  • Point Tokens
    Point tokens are earned and then exchanged for Resource Symbols
  • 4 Research bibliography Cards
    Each Research Bibliography Card
    includes different resources based on a discipline/content/subject theme (i.e. history or biology). The resources on each card include discipline-specific print or electronic resources such as book, primary source, journal article, newspaper article, statistical source, pro/con source, etc.
  • Resource Symbols
    Players use Resource Symbols to show that they have ‘checked out’ or ‘downloaded’ a resource on their Research Bibliography Card. Each Research Symbol covers a bullet point on the Research Bibliography Card.
  • Resource Question Cards:
    • 20 Research Assistant Cards with a Yellow Header (easier questions)
    • 16 Master Research Cards with a Blue Header (more difficult questions)
  • Research Event Cards:
    • 16 Research Obstacle Cards
    • 20 Research Shortcut Cards

Time Required

After the initial set-up that requires players to cut out cards and other game pieces, the game will only take a few minutes to set up. The exact length of the game will depend on the players' knowledge and skill. How many times the game could be played in a class period depends on the length of the class period.

  • Estimated Game Set Up
    • 1st Time: 30 minutes to facilitate card cut out.
    • Subsequent Times: 5 minutes
  • Estimated Game Play
    • 45 minutes to 1 hour for a game played with two teams
    • 1 to 1.5 hours for a game played with 3 or 4 teams

The Rules

Game Play:

  • Board Set Up
    • Shuffle the Resource Event Cards and place them face down on the Game Board.
    • Shuffle the Research Assistant Question Cards and Place them face down on the Game Board.
    • Shuffle the Master Researcher Question Cards and place them face down on the Game Board.
    • Set piles of Research Symbols beside each of the spaces marked Circulation desk on the Game Board.
    • Place the Point Tokens in a pile either on or beside the board where they can be conveniently accessed by all teams.
  • Each team picks a player piece.
  • Research Bibliography Cards are placed face down and each team chooses a card.
  • Players place their pieces at the starting point on the game board -  Library Entrance.
  • Each team rolls the die, the team with the highest roll goes first and then players take turns in a clockwise rotation.
  • How to win - The goal is to the game is to earn Point Tokens and then trade Point Tokens in for Resource Symbols. The first team to earn enough Resource Symbols for all of the resources on their Research Bibliography Card wins.

For Each Turn:

  • A team player rolls the die and moves the player piece the number of spaces on the board as show on the die.
  • The team follows the instructions on the square on which they land. (i.e. A Research Event, Draw a Research Assistant Card, Draw a Master Researcher Card.
    • Research Events:
      • Obstacles: teams lose points and turns according to information on the Research Event Card.
      • Shortcuts: teams gain points or can take a second turn according to the information on the Research Event Card.
    • Research Assistant Card: If the team answers correctly, they earn a Point Token. If incorrectly, it is the next team's turn. If answered correctly the team has the option of selecting a Master Researcher Card - if chosen and answered correctly, the team earns 3 Point Tokens, if incorrectly, then team loses the Point Token that they just earned for answering the Research Assistant Card question correctly. If the team chooses not to answer a Master Researcher Card question, their turn ends and they keep the Point Token earned for correctly answering the Research Assistant Question Card.
      Note: A member of an opposing team reads the cards to the playing team.
    • Master Researcher Card: If answered incorrectly, the turn ends. If answered correctly, team gains a Resource Symbol that they can place by any resource on their Research Bibliography Card.

Librarian Power Roll - After one round of play (each team has completed one turn), if a team rolls a 6, they earn the help of the librarian. The team keeps the librarian until another team rolls a 6, at which point the team that rolled the six now has the help of the librarian.

As long as a team is in possession of the librarian, they do not lose any points or turns regardless of incorrect answers to Research Assistant Cards or Master Researcher Cards, or due to an obstacle on a Research Event Card.

However, if a question is answered incorrectly, the playing team does not gain points, and it is still the next team's turn..

Exchanging point tokens for resource pieces To exchange Point Tokens for Resource Symbols, the team's player piece must go to one of the Circulation Desks.

Players do not need a die roll that exactly matches the spaces needed to reach the Circulation Desk. Instead, players need a die roll that is at least as much as needed to get to the Circulation Desk. For example, if a Circulation Desk is four spaces away, a roll of the dice with a 4, 5 or 6 will get the team's piece to the Circulation Desk. Players turn in Point Tokens at the Circulation Desk to 'check out' needed print resources or to 'download' needed online resources.

4 Point Tokens = 1 Resource Symbol

Players continue moving around the board until a team or player has successfully covered all five resources on their Research Bibliography Card with a Resource Symbol.

Design Process

The instructional goal of the game is to allow players to demonstrate their information literacy skills. Because we designed the game for undergraduate college students, the complexity of the rules and play is moderately detailed.

Early on, we knew that we wanted to provide questions that allowed for player's knowledge and application of such knowledge - to be rewarded. We wanted to provide opportunities for additional reward, as well as risk, for higher level thinking. Therefore, we devised rules that allowed participants to wager points gained on the possibility of greater reward by allowing players who answer Research Assistant Card questions correctly, the choice of answering harder Master Researcher Card questions. However, this option also carries the risk of losing points if the Master Researcher Card question is answered incorrectly.

We knew that we wanted to expose participants to many aspects of library services and research experiences: from the day-to-day possibilities of campus life to insight into how students can use logical and educated shortcuts to make research more effective and efficient. This played out in the development of obstacles and shortcut cards, which were later collectively named "Research Event Cards."

In early discussions, we talked about comparisons to BINGO when covering spots on the Research Bibliography Cards, to Trivial Pursuit for the Research Question Cards, and to Jeopardy for risking points already earned when attempting answer harder questions.

Instead of the Research Bibliography Cards, we started with the idea of research scenario cards that would be unique for each team; however, we ultimately realized that having equitable scenarios for each team was an enormous and complex task.

Therefore, we opted to provide information on the types of resources that might be realistic in a particular discipline's research - as represented on the Research Bibliography Cards - but to write the questions for the Research Question Cards on general, multidisciplinary library service and resource information. The hope was that such questions would provide a solid foundation on good research principles for all disciplines.

We also wanted to pursue the idea of variability in resource choices - "good" resource choices vs. "ideal" ones. Again, we deemed that this was too complex, and would vary depending on the research topic and discipline.

However, we really wanted there to be some variability within the game, resulting in developing two tracks of questions: easier and more difficult. Originally titled Level 1 and Level 2, these two types of questions were renamed "Research Assistant" and "Master Researcher" Cards. The Research Assistant Cards include true/false and multiple choice questions only. The content of the Research Assistant Cards is basic and more elementary information that many students already know or learn very early in their college tenure.

The Level 2, or Master Researcher Cards, include true/false, one multiple choice, and many short answer questions. The Master Researcher Card is more advanced, and covers what students are likely to learn later in their college careers.

The designers introduced the librarian figure to add additional random opportunity, but also to reinforce the instructional component that librarians provide information, support, and expert help.

While two or more individuals could play the game, the game was designed for team play because of expected variations is students' information literacy skills and information seeking abilities. Furthermore, and as noted by Oblinger and Oblinger (2006), current college students – millennials -  “gravitate toward group activity."

The game could be expanded to include more disciplines, or more detailed questions for students studying a particular discipline.

Feedback from our instructor and our peers was invaluable. We knew that our rules were ambitious, and it was useful to see where we had succeeded in articulating our intent and where we had superfluous rules that we could streamline. This was a critical step in bringing this game to completion.


Books & Journals

  • Malone, D., & Videon, C. (2003). First year student library instruction programs. Chicago: College Library Information Packet Committee, College Libraries Section, Association of College and Research Libraries.
  • Rockman, I. F. (2004). Integrating information literacy into the higher education curriculum: practical models for transformation. The Jossey-Bass higher and adult education series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.




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Last updated October 8 2007