Pokémon Go and Public Libraries

photo of person holding a pokeball

Released on July 6th, Pokémon Go has already shot up the charts to become the #1 selling app on Google Play and the App Store. While all Pokémon video games generally share the same characteristics (collecting, training and battling the various creatures known as Pokémon), Pokémon Go has added augmented reality to the mix–and created some possibilities for libraries!

Utilizing your phone’s GPS, the Pokémon Go game world is based on players’ actual physical location. To move around the game world, they must travel in real life. As they travel, they encounter Pokémon to be captured, Pokéstops, which are caches of useful items and gyms, where they can battle their Pokémon against other players. So where do libraries come in?

As Meeting Places:

Many public places (libraries, malls, houses of worship) already appear on players’ maps as a Pokéstop or gym. This makes them a desirable locale for players to restock on supplies and meet socially to do battle. Gyms are especially desirable! If your library is either one–let folks know. Signage is a nice way of welcoming players, though anyone playing within the confines of the library will be alerted to the presence of a gym or Pokéstop. A social media blast is a good way of drawing in the more distant players.

As Hunting Grounds:

Players are actively working to collect new Pokémon and also gain experience by collecting ones they’ve already captured. If your library serves as a Pokéstop, is near one, or is willing to do some outreach, you can provide an inexpensive boost to players. By making a 99 cent in-app purchase of a “Lure Module” you can attract Pokémon to a Pokéstop for 30 minutes, benefiting all players. Advertising the use of a Lure Module in advance is sure to draw some interest from fans of the game. The person using the Lure Module is identified for to everyone at the stop–so make sure you’re using a username that gives your library some credit!

By drawing in both Pokémon and players, you’ve created a marketing opportunity, so be sure to use it! Talk up programs and collections that may be of interest: your collection of graphic novels, your Friday night game group, etc. When conducting this offsite, it’s an opportunity to do library card signup, Summer Reading club signup, or get your newsletter in some new hands!

For Social Media Engagement:

Pokémon are crawling, flying and running around your library. When someone locates them, they view the Pokémon through their phone’s camera. When this happens, they have the option to snap a photo. Encourage players to share their captures with your library’s Facebook or Twitter account. Have staff share their captures as well. Get creative–with some careful camerawork, you can position a Pokémon at the reference desk, on a book, “reading” a newsletter. This creates some fun, shareable content that may raise your cred among your teen patrons.


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