IMLS grants will support work on co-design, video game archiving

Jason Yip and Jin Ha Lee
Jason Yip and Jin Ha Lee

Information School researchers recently won a pair of 2018 National Leadership Grants for Libraries, awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Assistant Professor Jason Yip and Associate Professor Jin Ha Lee will team up on one of the projects, a three-year, $353,000 effort to involve people from different generations in co-design sessions at libraries. The funds will support iSchool Ph.D. student Kung Jin Lee.

Yip’s KidsTeam UW has embraced the concept of co-designing new digital learning activities with children, giving them a hand in designing their own experiences with technology. This new project is designed to spread the concept of intergenerational participatory design among libraries, in a way that encourages people of all ages to engage and invest in their neighborhood libraries.

“Some librarians now have the very difficult job of creating new digital learning activities for the youth in their neighborhoods. A lot of librarians never had an instructional design background and are looking for help,” Yip said. “My opinion has always been that co-designing with children can help librarians create engaging learning activities and participate in a design process that’s beneficial to the librarians, children, and families in the neighborhood.”

According to Jin Ha Lee, iSchool Master of Library and Information Science students will be in the field, helping to bring the intergenerational co-design concept to libraries.

“The MLIS students are actually going to the libraries and helping us design and implement co-design sessions in the libraries, so they’re getting a really rich, practical experience,” she said.

Librarians will engage in co-design sessions with children and with UW MLIS students, and will later support other colleagues interested in developing their own groups. The project will begin at the Seattle Public Library and spread in its second year to rural libraries in Washington, then to both rural and urban libraries in California in its third year, Lee said.

The second IMLS grant will fund Lee’s development of a model for curating collections of video game development artifacts. The $254,000 award will fund work by Lee, iSchool Ph.D. candidate Marc Schmalz and the Video Game History Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

“The United States made a huge contribution in creating these games, which is an important part of our cultural heritage,” Lee said. “Yet a lot of materials created during the development process — which are significant for preserving the history of video games and also for educating the next generation of game developers — are not collected, organized, preserved and accessed like they should be.”

Lee and the iSchool GAMER Group have worked for several years to create a structure for classifying and organizing video games. This project will complement that work by creating a structure for archiving materials such as artwork, music and interactive components related to video games.

Video games have become a huge industry, yet the artifacts of their creation are vanishing, Lee said.

“I think future generations will want to know, what were these things called video games? Why were people so obsessed with them? How did they make these?” she said. “Unfortunately we’re at the stage where a lot of things have been lost, but we should do whatever we can right now to reverse the situation.”