The Board Game Library

Posted on Feb 16 2012 by pomomojo in Board Games

An entire library in a cube!

One year ago we started construction on an addition to our house.  That extension of our living room came to be known as “The Library,” for that was where my shelves and shelves of books (I am an English professor) ended up along with a couch for reading.  The process of moving all the books from my office to the new library, culling the ones that I no longer was interested in and organizing the ones I was keeping, was an involved and enjoyable process.  My wife hates the process of moving and organizing, but I take great pleasure in reviewing my collection of books and thinking about the best way to arrange them on the shelves.  More recently I went through the same process with my boardgame collection, eliminating games that were no longer going to get played and organizing the rest in some sort of aesthetically pleasing and logically consistent way.  Yet, I’ve never thought of the walk-in closet where we keep most of the games as a library.  One obvious reason for this is you wouldn’t actually sit down to play a game inside the closet, but even if it was my boardgames instead of my books that had migrated to the new addition, I’m not sure we would have thought to call it the library.  Yet, there are many similarities between my collection of books and my collection of boardgames. 

First, there’s variety.  One of the great things about a public library is being able to go find a book on almost any subject that pops in your head.  The same holds true with a personal library.  Yes, you could have a library with just the classics or a game library with fifty different versions of Monopoly, but I think a library needs to be wide-ranging.  When I want to read for pleasure I can assess my current mood and select a book based on length, subject, and complexity.  The same goes for picking a game to play.  Do I want to play a party game like Trivial Pursuit or something more strategic?  How much time and how many players do I have?  Do I want to further hone my Scrabble skills or try the newest game that just came in the mail?  With a well-crafted library you’ll always have the perfect game for the situation.

Second, there’s beauty.  Big public libraries put their books in plain, hard covers for durability but in your personal library you can pay more attention to how things look on your shelf.  A personal library, whether for books or games, is part of your home and something you will probably look at every day, so put some thought into what you will be looking at.  As a poor college student I mostly collected used paperbacks, but I also have some hard cover or leather volumes of my favorite works.  There are books with autographs and books that have gone through multiple editions.  Most of the books are in alphabetical order, but some of the more impressive volumes get their own space.  The same is true of my boardgames.  A luxury version of your favorite game adds a lot to the collection’s aesthetics.  I generally group together games by box size to prevent damage, but certain games look better when stored vertically and some games demand a place of honor of their own where they can easily be pulled out and shown off.

Finally, there’s a story.  Every book has memories attached, from the place where I found and purchased it to the first time I read it to the people I recommended it to and shared it with.  I move boxes of books from home to home and from shelf to shelf because they tell a story about my life over the past twenty years, even if I haven’t read some of them in over a decade.  My collection of games tells a similar story.  There are the games I first played when I discovered the hobby, games that I know I’ll only play once a year but look forward to each time I see them in my closet, games that have become staples within my family, and games that remind me of the people I played them with.  A beautiful cover on a book and the feel of a heavy wooden game board can both brighten my day even if I don’t have time to read or play.  The notes I’ve penned in an old paperback from college or the colorful dice that spill out from a game I haven’t played in years can both evoke memories and the careful organization of both my collections ensures many future memories will be made as well.

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