Blogger Sarah Bean Thompson

Why Pokemon Go and The Library is a perfect partnership

Aluchua County Library Facebook

Sunday evening my family took a walk to our neighborhood park. It’s not unusual to see families out and about riding bikes or walking dogs, but this past weekend the parks have been full of people staring at their phones. Pokemon Go has taken over my community. I’ve never seen our park so busy! There were around 300 people out walking around the park and playing this game. If you’ve been on social media at all in the past few days, you have most likely seen many mentions of Pokemon Go from the good – it’s getting people out and walking, to the bad – people are spending a lot of time staring at screens and not paying attention to their surroundings.

So what is Pokemon Go?
Pokemon Go is a free app that has players walking around their communities to find Pokemon in the real world. The game enables Augmented Reality which means the Pokemon can appear in “real life”. The more Pokemon you catch, the more you can level up and earn experience points all of which can help you battle for gym domination.

Why should libraries care about Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go is a great social game and getting people out and moving! In order to find Pokemon, you have to walk around and visit various places in your community. You also need to stock up on supplies, which you can do at Pokestops, which many libraries are. Some libraries are even lucky enough to be a gym, which means even more people coming through your doors as these are places everyone is after! This is where you can battle Pokemon and gain more points. Libraries are already doing some great publicity and capitalizing on the games success.

Credt: Alachua County Library Facebook
Credit: Alachua County Library Facebook

Several libraries are taking advantage the fact that they are Pokestops. People have to be visiting your location to take advantage of the supplies offered in the game, so why not promote that and encourage them to  come in from the parking lot? That’s exactly what Aluchua County Library did when they decided to drop a lure (a special item that brings Pokemon to your location for a short time). While there, encourage everyone to  stop in, sign up for Summer Reading, and get a library card! We’re going to try this today at my library and we’re planning on setting up a table by our front door to greet Pokemon trainers (what players are called in the game), promote our Summer Reading Program and events. You can also provide some special giveaway if possible to Pokemon trainers or if you’re a gym, create some small gym badges and offer those to anyone who conquers your location.

You can even take things one step further like the Farmers Branch Manske Library and set up an impromptu Pokemon hunting party. This could be around your branch, or if you have other locations nearby, like this library, you can go out walking.

Credit: Farmers Branch Manske Library Facebook
Credit: Farmers Branch Manske Library Facebook

There are also numerous passive activities you can do with Pokemon Go. To go with our life size game day this past weekend, we put out a Pokemon craft station for kids to decorate Pokeballs and their own custom Pokemon card.

Credit: Sarah Bean Thompson
Credit: Sarah Bean Thompson

We also made a passive display in our window asking patrons to let us know what Pokemon they caught in the library.


Credit: Sarah Bean Thompson
Credit: Sarah Bean Thompson

I’ve also seen libraries asking what team patrons have chosen and you can put up displays asking about favorite Pokemon, Pokestops, or tips and tricks for the game. You can make pixel Pokeballs and there are tons of craft activity ideas from birthday parties that can easily be adapted to libraries. As the game continues on, libraries can be a gathering place for sharing tips about the game and a trading location when trading becomes available. Eventually the possibility to battle anywhere may also become available making the library a great programming spot for virtual Pokemon Battles.

Still not sure about Pokemon Go? GalaxyBookJockey has a great post about what libraries need to know about Pokemon Go.

Why does this matter to libraries other than being part of a pop culture phenomenon? As I mentioned, we hosted a life size game day on Saturday which happened to be perfect timing with the Pokemon Go launch. I added a promotion of Pokemon Go to the event, all of my staff and I talked up the game to our patrons, asked if they were playing and we quickly created some passive crafts and displays.

As I was talking the game up to some of our patrons, one family got especially excited. The kids had recently discovered Pokemon and the idea of catching them in real life sounded like so much fun. I showed them how to play and then went back to  the program. Two hours later the mom came up to the desk and said thank you for showing her the game. She mentioned her child had a disorder that made it difficult to process fat and that her child needed to be active but this was always a struggle as her handicap made this difficult. She mentioned that her child loved Pokemon and had been walking around the library all morning catching Pokemon and that normally she would be hearing complaints by now but her child was happily staying active. By providing a place to play the game, creating a partnership between Pokemon Go and the library and being excited about this pop culture event, we helped make this story possible for this family. And that’s exactly why libraries should be taking part in Pokemon Go.


  1. Ms. L

    This sounds like a great idea! However, I work at a high school library, and a Catholic high school library at that, and there are issues of attracting “unwanted” people (i.e. pedophiles) in our school library. Are there any people from school libraries that are Pokemon gyms over the summer? (We are open during the summer)

  2. Aislinn

    I’m sitting at the teen desk tonight and I just had a group of teens jump up and down in a fit of excitement screaming, “Squirrel! I got a Squirrel!” and then, “Ssshhh shhh!” by their friends, followed by a, “Nooooo! My phone just died >_<". I am highly entertained by this game.

    1. Brianna

      The pokemon they are referring to is a “Squirtle” which is one of the original 3 starter pokemon you can choose on your adventures! It looks like an adorable blue turtle-esque water type pokemon 🙂

      I play and our library is constantly bombed with the lures so it makes my breaks that much more enjoyable!

      1. Stephen

        Nononono. If someone caught a squirrel in the library, they should be pretty proud of themselves, that’s rather impressive.

  3. Kathia Ibacache

    Pokemon Go sounds great. We offer child-safe website access directly from our web site, but this sounds like a great game for older kids.

    Thanks for offering some ideas on Pokemon projects and arts associated when launching the game.

    1. Sandra G

      May I ask what child safe website are you using kathia?

  4. Claudia McLean

    So many benefits from playing, I am so happy my basement dwelling teen & his adult-boy brother are still playing!

  5. Sally

    FYI the library screenshot is “Alachua” not Aluchua for the caption 🙂

    1. Mary Voors

      Sorry about that! I’ve corrected the caption. (Great FB page, by the way.)

  6. Rebecca Smith

    Is there any way to make my public library a gym? We are already a pokestop, but I would really like to be a gym?

    1. Kathleen Cobcroft

      Not yet – all the stops and gyms are based on places from an older game, Ingress, and they aren’t taking any new places right now. Apparently the only edits they’ve been doing are deleting stops on dangerous places (middle of the road, train tracks…) but there shouldn’t be many of them because they were supposed to be located at places of cultural interest.

    2. Sarah

      Yes! There is now! Here’s the form to fill out. Not sure how many requests they are getting but it’s worth a try!

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  8. Andrew

    Are there any copyright issues around using in game photos and publishing them on a libraries social media?

    1. Sarah

      Good question! I don’t know for sure, but my guess is it’s OK since it’s from the users game-they have to download the game to take the picture and find the Pokemon and people are sharing those on social media. But if I find out other information I will post it here.

      1. Brianna

        The game allows for you to take photos of the pokemon before you attempt to catch them. Under that, I would assume they are promoting distribution of those photos around social media in general.

        1. Crissy H

          All the photos you take in game are labeled with your username, which leads me to believe they are yours for the sharing. (You can just barely see the username in the lower right corner, behind the Facebook image menu.)

          Also, that’s my PokéPost! Thanks for featuring ACLD! I was so surprised when I saw the article shared in a librarian Pokémon Facebook group, with my post as the thumbnail! Glad to see other libraries getting on board the PoGo train. It really is a great way to promote our services and get people in the library!

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  13. Nadine Poper

    Question for you Sarah (or anyone who may know)
    I am a librarian at a public elementary school in an urban district. I would love to be able to have my library and/or my school be a PokeStop or a gym or whatever it may be. I am thinking it would help increase attendance to our annual Meet the Teacher night. But I am concerned about nonschool related people just walking around. Thoughts?

    1. Alyssa C

      If you become a Pokestop or gym, you will definitely have nonschool related people. You will also likely have students using their phones at all hours of the day. The stops and gym are active 24 hours a day, so there may be people walking around the public areas at 3 a.m.

      I haven’t seen any schools as Pokestops or gyms and this very well may be why. I’d check with your school administrator about this before submitting a request.

      1. Nadine Poper

        Thank you Alyssa. I appreciate your reply. I am seeing posts about libraries jumping on board with this but they are mainly public libraries.

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  15. pokemondro

    It’s always great to see organizations like libraries finding innovative ways to engage with their communities, and partnering with Pokemon Go seems like a perfect fit. As someone who has spent countless hours playing the game and catching all of my favorite Pokemon, I can see how libraries can use the game to create interactive and engaging programs for their visitors. This blog post does an excellent job of highlighting some of the ways that libraries can leverage Pokemon Go to attract new visitors and provide fun and educational experiences. Overall, great job on this post, and I hope to see more libraries and other organizations using Pokemon Go to engage with their communities!

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