Nina Simon, the Museum 2.0 author, recently led a workshop for the Libraries of Eastern Oregon. LEO is a star in its own right, changing the image of the library through technology and innovation in of all places, rural eastern Oregon. LEO hosted Nina Simon so that local cultural institutions could learn to become places for visitor participation.
Nina brings a new fresh viewpoint, coming from the engineering field as she does. She pointed out the difference between museums and libraries: you visit a museum, but you use a library. Both places are trusted sources of information. They are both places for seeing and exploring that can also be places for making and sharing. How can we create weekly and daily connections with our cultural institution?
One exercise was to identify under-served audiences to attract. I suggested gamblers and truckers because there are plenty of them in the neighborhood, but they are rare visitors to our museum. We addressed the question, what do these audiences need and want from us? For truckers, we thought of things like audiobooks, maps, resources like places to eat, on and on. But when it came to gamblers, we could not think of a single way that we could meet their needs. For some reason we librarian-types could not get inside the heads of gamblers.
The web says the gambler is on a quest for novelty. They like the thrill of taking a risk. When they win, the reward centers in their brains are flooding with dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is the mediator of pleasure. Even their learning centers are gratified when they win. How can our worlds ever come together?
From the traditional gaming viewpoint, gambling via the stickgame (aka loxmit, palyawit) was foremost an exercise of one’s personal power. It was only secondarily a matter of winning or losing wealth. Teams even positioned themselves directionally to reflect the relative geographies of their tribal homelands. Some say this ancient game originated as a contest between the 2-legged and the 4-legged creatures, wagering to establish forever who would dine on whom. Our indomitable player, Shalaya, joked that she was “sending rays” at Viola to make her guess wrong. Viola put her hand up to block Shalaya’s rays, but too late.