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‘Tis the Tablet Season

eBook signage designed by Harold McGraw Fellow Lisa Nowlain.
New eBook signage designed by Harold McGraw Fellow Lisa Nowlain.

You may have already noticed an influx of questions related to your library’s digital offerings within the past 48 hours. The holidays are an obvious time to increase exposure to the library’s eBook collection, the same way the pre-season calls for gift-giving guides and best books lists. Even while home for the holidays, I found myself pointing family to their local library’s Digital eLibrary. Similar to many patrons that we encounter, my family had no idea that the public library circulates eBooks.

As librarians approaching this upcoming week, there are definitely ways to be in tune to the needs of new tablet owners. At our most recent Family Tech Night, an evening reserved for eReader assistance, most of the attendees were senior patrons. Having a children’s staff open to collaboration with other departments benefits patrons of all ages in the community. The post-holiday week might be just the right time to seize the moment and call all library staff together to offer a few eBook open houses. Recently our User Experience department began hosting weekly tech drop-in sessions which can also be expanded to weekly/monthly eBook sessions.

If extra staff time is not a possibility at your location this week, remind your patrons where the information is found online. Create signage for digital titles within the physical collection, but don’t overwhelm patrons with pages and pages of information. Recently at our library there have been discussions about removing hard copies of downloading instructions, as they are difficult to maintain, with constant updates and a multitude of device options. Is your library’s digital collection info consolidated? If not, perhaps create a LibGuide similar to Alameda County’s guide. It also never hurts to plug children’s digital services in your library’s LibGuide like Tumblebooks, Bookflix, and even Hoopla which streams hundreds of movies and television shows for kids.

There are also small visual reminders that can be featured within the children’s room to remind patrons that there is indeed a collection within the library that is not visible. Making posters, bookmarks, and booklists can be a small yet effective means of raising eBook awareness. While revamping our Booklist webpage this past November, we chose to add an eBook category to the mix. The plan is to highlight new eTitles to readers and update selections on a monthly basis.

As new tablets make their way into the library doors this month, so might questions about the value of digital reading and screen time. Use the opportunity to provide parents and caregivers with current resources on the topic, and tips to encourage a valuable learning experience while using technology with their kids. During Screen-Free week in May, we provided handouts throughout the children’s room which sparked healthy dialogue with parents who were not so keen on the presence of technology in the library. From articles on 3D Printing in the library to tips on how to read an eBook, showing parents that their tech needs can be met at the library and that we as professionals are willing to dialogue about these issues is the real gift that keeps on giving.

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at cmoore@darienlibrary.org.

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.

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