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January 29, 2012 / carlispina

Lemontree – Gamifying an Academic Library

In a bit of a departure from my typical posts, this post discusses Lemontree, an online game that I have not actually tried. While at ALA Midwinter in Dallas last week, I saw a very interesting presentation by Dave Pattern, the Library Systems Manager at the University of Huddersfield, about his library’s efforts to gamify library use through Lemontree and I found it so intriguing that I can’t help but write about it. Designed by Running In The Halls, Inc., Lemontree adds elements of gamification to virtually every patron activity at the University of Huddersfield’s libraries. Patrons earn points for activities like checking out and returning books, logging in to e-resources, asking reference questions or simply visiting the library. Patrons can also unlock achievements through specific activities, such as the early bird achievement for visiting the library in the morning and the night owl achievement for those visiting the library late at night. In addition to these achievements, as patrons progress through the game, their lemontree will grow and bloom. And, to quote from the game’s website: “The more you use the library, the hotter your library card gets” as seen below.

As this example shows, the game’s graphics are fun and do a good job of conveying the patron’s progression through the game. Once a patron has registered for the game, the process is very streamlined with points automatically being added when the patron completes activities or uses library materials. In his presentation, Dave Pattern also mentioned that patrons can collect additional points from reference librarians by asking good questions or by finding cards tucked in random library books and entering a code into their account. I like the way that patrons can collect points in a variety of ways so that all types of library use can be reflected in the game.

There is also a leaderboard and the ability to connect a Lemontree account to a Facebook account so that patrons can show off their achievements and points. The library is looking for ways that points from the game can be used in the real world. Two possibilities are redeeming points for a certain amount of free printing or for a reduction in an overdue fee. I think these ideas will be particularly important in getting students to participate in the game since it will let them earn tangible benefits in addition to the competitive benefits of making it to the top of the leaderboard. If you are interested in learning more about Lemontree, I would recommend taking a look at Andrew Walsh’s presentation from the Online Information Conference 2011 or readingĀ  Aaron Tay’s blog post about it. Or, check out the video below from the game’s creators about Lemontree and the importance of libraries:

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