Video Games are Expensive. Check Them Out for Free at Johnson County Library

For many people who are trying to save money, Johnson County Library is a great solution for free access to books, audiobooks and DVDs. Another real bargain that may be overlooked is the Library’s video game collection, which gamers of all ages can enjoy for free or to “try before they buy.”

Many patrons are surprised to learn the Library carries a wide selection of popular video games for platforms such as Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox. Two games can be checked out at a time, for two weeks each. The games are kept on carts near branch check-out desks for browsing. They are also available for reserving online and placing on hold.

When Johnson County Library asked for feedback on Facebook about ways the Library helps with family budgets, parent Sarah Eggers had an immediate response: “Video games, hands down, is the biggest money saver. I could pay $60 for myself or my kid to play a PS5 or Nintendo Switch game, but instead I rent it from the Library for free.”

Eggers, who lives in Lenexa, particularly likes cozy video games such as Animal Crossing, which are relaxing and fun, appeal to all ages, and are great for kids.

She was delighted that Johnson County Library has such a good selection, especially because her daughter Hazel, 6, has also become a fan of video games, including Paw Patrol and Yoshi.

“I first saw it on the website about their video games,” she said. “It’s so easy. You can search by the gaming platform you’re going to use. They have games for everything. I’m usually looking for Nintendo Switch games.”

She estimates she’s saved at least $240 over the past six months by checking out free video games for Hazel.

Charles Hower, a Central Resource Library information specialist, has been a video game enthusiast since he was a teenager. In fact, he played a part in persuading Johnson County Library to start acquiring video games nearly two decades ago.

From 2004 to 2006, he was on the Library’s young adult advisory council, recommending ways to engage teens. He and his older brother Robert suggested the Library acquire video game consoles.

“They piloted it at Central,” he recalled. “They ran video game tournaments. It took off and was popular enough that they started investing in console video games and circulating them, not just for teen events.”

After he joined the Library staff in 2018, he saw that the video game collection had increased dramatically, with multiple Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch options that are very popular with families. The collection is always growing; a list of recently-added games is available on the Library's website.

Hower has two children: Cora, 3, and Maxwell, 6. Maxwell is now old enough that he really enjoys Lego Star Wars, Lego Jurassic Park, plus Zelda and Mario games. Hower and his son have a great time with the two-player games.

Like Eggers, Hower says it’s just smart financially to explore the Library’s video game collection. It's also a good way to try out games before he decides whether to buy them for himself or for the family's home collection.

“We usually have at least one video game checked out that we’re playing off and on,” he said.

Eggers says the games are even educational, helping Hazel to boost her hand-eye coordination and reading skills.

“I do hope more people realize how much money they could be saving,” Eggers said. “Your taxes already pay for it. And you pay zero dollars (for the Library games). It’s great.”