A group of Elmhurst residents is pushing for the Elmhurst Public Library to reevaluate its policy for carrying video games rated “M” (mature); in response, the library has released an extensive PDF document of information and varying opinions on the topic.
According to the documents, the group, which had originally sought for the library to stop carrying M-rated games, has revised its request to now suggest that the library review its criteria for purchasing games, currently based solely on popularity.
The Chicago Tribune reports Elmhurst resident and psychotherapist Elaine Fleming is spearheading the effort of a small group of residents. She has addressed Elmhurst City Council members and the Library Board asking that the library review its policy.
In a letter to the Elmhurst Independent provided in the library’s documents, Fleming writes that she was “disturbed deeply” by recent shooting tragedies and inspired by President Barack Obama’s call to research the psychological effects of video-game violence.
“We decided not to ask the library to ban these games, but to implement thoughtful and research-based policies and selection criteria around M-rated video games,” Fleming wrote. She also criticizes Library Director Mary Beth Campe, saying she “did not see the importance of having such policies that would be similar to those at other top-rated libraries in Illinois.”
In response, the second page of the library’s documents shows a list of all other Illinois “star libraries,” as rated by Library Journal, including Elmhurst. Of the 15 libraries, 14 carry video games and 11 carry M-rated games; of those 11, only Elmhurst and Schaumburg require an ID card for renting M-rated games.
The document also includes a letter to the library from Christopher J. Ferguson, an associate professor of psychology and communication at Texas A&M International University and a member of Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on violence in video games, in which he calls violent video games “the new ‘banned’ book.”
“Overall research is unable to support the conclusion that video game violence is related to societal violence,” Ferguson wrote. “After national tragedies it is quite common to see moral panics target media, and considerable bad information can circulate. … I strongly encourage you to resist the pressure from these individuals.”
About 130 M-rated games at Elmhurst Public Library are checked out on average 20 times a year. They include “Splatterhouse,” “KillZone 3” and “Call of Duty: World at War,” the Tribune reports.
The library’s packet also contains several news articles about violence in gaming and studies on the topic.