Thinking about circulating games? Here are some ideas!

let’s play!

I know some of our CMLE members are already circulating games in your libraries; and it’s a topic brought up fairly often when we are talking about materials and services to reach out to communities.

Games are great, and very engaging ways to encourage patrons to come to the library! They can be somewhat troublesome to circulate, as everyone wants to be sure they have the materials to share with the next patron – and small pieces or cards can be easy to lose. You can usually buy replacements for missing parts to games, but it is another step to consider when you are including them in your collection development plan.

There were some ideas being shared online about circulating games, so we are sharing them here, to help you think about your own circ policies!

  • We started a circulating game collection in July and it’s been a great success.The games are all weighed both before and after circulating and if there’s any weight loss, we then have a volunteer count the pieces. We have an inventory sheet on the box top that helps us keep track of the pieces. We circulate the games for seven days.  Folks can place holds and renew the games. We have almost 60 games, half of them are for ages 8 and below, the rest are for older kids and families.
  • Our board game collection is only six or so months old, but our customers love it and I’ve just ordered about 20 new games to circulate. I’ve pasted our guidelines below. We’re a small system with only three branches, so it’s easy for us to keep all the games at one location. So far I’ve been able to replace/recreate all the pieces that have gone lost (cardboard, glue sticks, and a color printer are your friends!), so haven’t had to charge anyone for damages.


    ·        Loan period: 3 weeks
    ·        Renewals permitted as long as there are no holds
    ·        Holds permitted
    ·        Fines for late return: $1.00 per day
    ·        Patron may not have more than two (2) board games checked out at a time
    ·        Board games will not be sent through the delivery and must be picked up at the Main Library

    ·        Board games are housed in the Children’s Department
    ·        Board games must be checked in and out at the Children’s Reference Desk
    ·        Staff members will check for parts as games check in and out
    ·        Board games that have been placed on hold will be kept behind the Children’s Reference Desk

    ·        Circulating board games may be used in the library, but they must first be checked out on a valid library card
    ·        The customer who checked out the game is responsible for the game and will be held to the same rules as the customer who brings the game home
    ·        The game must be returned to the Children’s Department and checked in by a staff member

    ·        Games that are returned damaged or missing vital game components will be charged the full value of the game plus a $5.00 processing fee
    ·        Replacement games may not be provided in lieu of lost/damaged fee

  • We make photocopies of  the rules so we still have those should they get lost. As for inventory on pieces, we have a list taped to the boxes/bags they come in stating how many of what pieces should be present. The list is also a pop-up message when the item is checked out/in. We have people count everything before it gets checked out and when it comes back (and if I have a volunteer who needs something to do, I have them go through them all regularly, just because we allow them to be used in-house). If parts are missing, how we deal with it depends on the game. We usually just let it go if the piece isn’t really necessary (they lost a card from Uno). If the piece is necessary, we first have them try to order replacement pieces (some of the gaming companies will do that). If that still doesn’t work, we end up charging them for the whole game–if we can’t play the game anymore because of the missing piece, we can’t circulate it anymore.
  • I think the most unforeseen issue we’ve really had is boards from board games. They don’t hold up all that well. Those ones we haven’t charged for after they finally kick it, since it’s not the patron’s fault. Larger folding boards have this problem. Others have been tape-able. Also, it’s time-consuming to count everything. Some of these games end up with 100 cards, 40 plastic tokens, etc.
  • They can be checked out by library staff in our branches to be used for programming and then to outside organization that have an agency card. They cannot be checked out to patrons on their personal library card. So they will have limited public and, in theory, supervised use.

Does your library circ games?? What kind of policies have you created? (Note:  remember that CMLE is always available to help you create policies and procedures for your library!) What games have you added? What do your patrons like? Are you measuring or evaluating the response??

Share your ideas in the comments below!