A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Ping Pong at the Library

by on August 29, 2016

I like to think that I’ve done a lot of good things at my library, but one of my proudest accomplishments is my ping pong club. It all started when I was a librarian at my first library almost ten years ago. My gym had a few ping pong tables, and I thought that it would be fun to have a table at the library for patron use. I sent in my proposal, and the Young Adult coordinator and the Children’s coordinator came over to look at our space. But for whatever reason, the idea fizzled. When I was promoted to assistant manager at another library, the manager had misgivings, so I still wasn’t able to do it. Finally, I became manager, and—success—I got a ping pong table! Sometimes I like to joke around that the only reason I wanted to become manager is because I wanted a ping pong table. Getting started was actually pretty simple: I was able to get a donation of a used table.

My current library, Queens Library at South Hollis, has a ton of teens and kids. Many of them are play ping pong for the very first time. I like to think that when these kids grow older, they’ll remember their first experience of ping pong at the library, and they’ll be ardent supporters of the library! Ping pong is a great fitness activity that helps teens release energy after school. But teens aren’t the only ones who play!

  • My first library as manager was by the beach, with a big retirement community and a lot of tourists. The players were older but experienced and good! In fact, one day a seventy-year-old lady came to play ping pong, and she tripped and fell on the floor! I was so scared, but she insisted that she traveled to our library and that she wanted to play! So I got her a library chair, and she played the rest of the match sitting down.
  • A home for homeless veterans recently opened across the street, so now I get to play ping pong with veterans. I even have a daily morning routine to play with one of the vets!
  • We also have a group of disabled volunteers every week. Even if someone is in a wheelchair, they can still play ping pong!
  • Occasionally, I also get to play ping pong with different guests, including my library director, the chief librarian, various police officers, local politicians, and other visitors. It’s a fun way to talk about things in a more relaxed and informal atmosphere.

Our ping pong table is out on the floor basically every day. It has wheels so I can put it away for special events or wheel it to events nearby, like when the veteran’s home had a grand opening celebration. I also ordered some books and DVDs on ping pong. And if anyone misbehaves, I can be like a parent and easily take away the table as a punishment. I always say, “This hurts me more than it hurts you” because that’s how much I love to play. You can ask, “How does the manager have time to play ping pong?” And I can say, “I love doing customer service, and this is my way of making people feel happy and giving them happy memories.”


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