IT started out as a small treat for the coding club at Fremantle Library, but now it’s blossomed into an award-winning Minecraft world with 400 players and 34 local governments signed-up.
Known as LibraryCraft, the free Minecraft server provides a safe platform for 7 to 17-year-olds to explore and get creative with all things Minecraft (a virtual world where you collect materials and build things from scratch).
Having 34 locals governments involved means there are multiple connected worlds to explore, making it a vast virtual universe.
“Safety of the players is absolutely paramount in LibraryCraft,” says Fremantle library’s John Geijsman, who came up with the idea for it.
“It’s a whitelisted server which means all players must complete a registration and provide proof of age in order to connect.
“All moderators – staff from other councils or volunteers – are given an induction and need to have current police and working with children checks. No player personal information is shared within the team or the server.”
A big Minecraft fan, Geijsman initially set up the server in 2019 as a reward for the hard work of the library’s coding club, CoderDojo Freo, and it was limited to just 10 players.
Word quickly spread about how good it was and several councils including Armadale and Canning asked Geijsman for advice on setting up their own Minecraft server, but he suggested it was easier to join Fremantle’s and they came onboard.
When the pandemic hit in 2020 and libraries temporarily closed, LibraryCraft was one of the few services they still offered and its popularity went through the roof – in one day Geijsman was contacted by 15 WA councils wanting to join.
“We’ve actually just hit our 400th registered player!” Geijsman says.
“Many have said it’s fun and engaging, the players and staff are friendly, and most of them have made some great friends through the program. They have also told us they love that there are a lot of play options – we currently have two survival worlds, four mini-games across eight different worlds, and around six creative worlds, where players can either build anything, or enter competitions and build to a theme, plus large scale collaborative creative projects as well.”
There’s also LibraryCraft Discord, where older children can discuss creative writing, large creative projects in the server, non-digital hobbies, sport, media, art and more.
Recently Fremantle library won the Innovation and Collaboration award for the second year running at the Library Board of WA Excellence Awards for LibraryCraft.
Last year they won it for their Library Connect program, basing a St Pat’s Community Support Centre worker at the library to provide advice, referrals and help to people experiencing homelessness and other hardships.
Geijsman says the “modern library” is a vibrant and exciting place, not some dusty building with old books.
“Libraries have changed a lot over the years, shifting from the printed environment to bring people through the doors, to looking more at diverse programs, experiences and community building as a driver for community engagement,” he says.
“Libraries are vibrant, exciting, engaging places where you can build connections from anywhere in the world, learn through countless means and at all ages of life.
“For me, the modern library should be a place where not only are all ages and backgrounds welcome, but it should be a place where technology, opportunities and experiences exist that may not necessarily be affordable for everyone.”
To join LibraryCraft go to https://librarycraft.net
by STEPHEN POLLOCK