Schneider, E. and Hutchison, B. (2015). Referencing the Imaginary: An Analysis of Library Collection of Role-Playing Game Materials. The Reference
Librarian, 56 (3) : 174–188.
A recent survey shows RPG materials are very poorly collected and referenced in public and academics libraries, even in the Library of Congress (Schneider and Hutchison, 2015). Two reasons reported are the lasting effects of the moral panics of the 80s and the repeated book theft by patrons. I add other reasons: weeding of overused books, policy and choice of collection development, misknowledge of the complex publishing habits of the hobby (numerous game lines, numerous editions and optional books).
Q1: How Widely Are These Materials Collected by Libraries?
The answer to this question is clearly that these materials are not widely collected. Looking at only the 953 OCLC participants that had any of these titles, the average number of titles in a collection was 3.67, or 5.16% of the search list. More than 90% of OCLC participants in the United States had no materials from the search list.(Schneider and Hutchison, 2015, p.184).
Theses local libraries have the largest RPG collections in the survey, ie. at least 100-150 items (Schneider and Hutchison, 2015, p.185).
- Public libraries
- Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana
- Genesee District Library in Flint, Michigan
- Academic library
- Oberlin College Library in Oberlin, Ohio
Noncirculating collections of TRPGThe Edwin and Terry Murray Collection of Role-Playing Games at Duke University’s Rubenstein Library includes 10,000 items (250 lin. ft.) : 2400 game books, 75 boxed sets, 140 packs of figurines, 19 card games, 100 different magazines and serials, even 13 manuscripts material from the Murray’s game notes. The collection ranges from 1972 to 2011. Unfortunately, « no other library collection was found anywhere near the scale of this collection. » (Schneider and Hutchison, 2015, p.186).
My own quick searches in national libraries catalogsThe Library of Congress online catalog, with the subjects ’Roleplaying game’ or ’Roleplaying game supplement’, showed only 71 results.
In the online catalog of the BnF (Bibliothèque nationale de France), the request ’Jeux de rôles (jeux)’ as subject heading showed that approximately 285 items (25% of the 381 results were adventures gamebooks or choose your own adventure books) were TRPGs. Most of them were core rulebooks and there was not complete series of any game.
The online catalog of the BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec), with the request ’Jeux de rôle (Jeux de société)’ as subject heading, showed 160 items (61% of the 404 results were non RPGs books). 151 of these items were from two Québec publishers named Dream Pod 9 (138 items) and Ianus Publications (23 items). These items are constituting complete collections but they are available for consultation only in the Collection nationale of the BAnQ because, through legal deposit, BAnQ collects all materials published in Québec.