Round Rock Library

The Honor-System Board Games At RRPL

Written by: Edward Y., Adult Services Manager

Libraries over the past decades have increasingly expanded their collections beyond books, but you know that already, having read my earlier blog! (A Library of Things – Not A New Idea, But One That’s Still Growing Up) 

One category of interesting ‘things’ that patrons request are board games. However, for years RRPL resisted adding those to our collections, and we had our reasons! Board games almost always have lots of little pieces, and checking those out to patrons would mean staff must check for each and every component of each game upon its return. Some games have hundreds of pieces, so this just didn’t seem feasible.  

But, about two years ago, a simple solution presented itself. We had a one-time event planned for families and thought it would be nice to have a large assortment of board games to offer attendees, mostly as entertainment during breaks. We put out a call for donations expecting to get maybe ten titles at the most, but instead were inundated with what were presumably lots of families’ living room closet game stashes. Many of them were brand-new and unopened. This incredible game bounty reached over 30 sets, and serendipitously coincided with a delivery mistake made by one of our vendors, sparking a simple idea. 

We had ordered a large metal case with wheels to house photo-scanning equipment, making a preservation-focused service for our patrons, the Legacy Scanning Cart. We’ll have a blog post about this service very soon! We waited an incredibly long time for this cart, ordered during the height of the pandemic-caused supply chain issues of 2021, and after numerous emails and calls, the vendor accidentally sent two. When we told them of the mistake, they responded, “keep the extra one”, presumably tired of dealing with our dogged attempts to get what we ordered! I wonder how much waste and shrinkage there is globally based on similar process failures… 

So, we suddenly had a huge board game assortment and a cart with no assigned contents. Then the idea finally occurred to us: a board game collection that isn’t truly part of our library catalog, instead checked out on an honor-system sign-out sheet, and since every game was a free donation, once someone reports a game missing pieces or broken in some way, the game gets thrown away, fulfilling its function far beyond what it could’ve accomplished in someone’s attic. 

Once in a while, we put out a call for game donations and receive plenty of responses. We get so many in fact that we can be a bit choosy, and any titles we already have or judge ‘unworthy’ go to our Friends book sale, giving to the library in another way. And this cart has been very successful; we recently checked out over a dozen titles during one of our slowest weeks.  

This gaming cart is found at our third-floor service desk, where we also have a few of the coolest games displayed in a glass case nearby. No library card required, come by and check one out, the due date is ‘a few days from now’, i.e., on the honor system! Also, if you have a cool game set that you never use and think others might enjoy, bring it to the same 3rd floor desk. We’ll either add it to the game cart or put it in the book sale, either way, RRPL and its patrons benefit!

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