‘Tis the Tablet Season

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…

Getting ready for Tablet Time

Books, check. Craft, check. Apps, check. I’m getting ready to start a pilot project called Tablet Time. We’re scheduling it for seven branches, 4 sessions at each branch. Tablet Time is a way for families to get some hands-on experience with tablets while learning early literacy skills. I know this is a somewhat controversial subject: there are some who adamantly believe that libraries should not be promoting use of technology with young children. These programs are for families with children ages 3-6. While I agree that children under 2 really have no need to have a television, iPhone, or tablet in front of them, I do see the value in showing families good apps, how to use them with their children, and how to then extend those ideas into fun literacy games and crafts that they can do at home.  And our Family Literacy funding agency must agree, because they…

The Evolving Classroom: Can Tablets Positively Impact the Learning Experience or Are They Just a Distraction?

Many parents and educators agree young children and technology, namely television and computers, shouldn’t mix.  However, with our rapidly changing society, where our technology dominates and has a considerable amount of control over how we interact, communicate, and learn, mixing is inevitable.  For some, it can seem like a world spinning out of control, while many others embrace the changes head on.  These changes in the way we communicate and learn, and the way out children learn, don’t come without their own set of problems.  And, as technologies such as tablets and other portable devices become increasingly prevalent and in the hands of children, shouldn’t we ask if we have their best interests in mind?  Is the technology really being used to their benefit? First, let’s look at how things are shifting.  It’s somewhat fair to give Apple a piece of the credit, along with Amazon.  Since the debut of…

How to Get Early Literacy Tablets in the Library

Located next to the “read-to-me” book kits is our Listening Station with four boomboxes, giving children another activity to do while in the library. One by one, these boomboxes were picked off by sticky, impatient fingers until one currently remains standing. But it’s only a matter of time. Eventually, these CD kits will be obsolete. Most laptops are now excluding CDR drives to make them lighter. Tablets run solely on downloadable materials. Cars are replacing CD players with USB connections. Information is shifting to downloadable materials. We shouldn’t be afraid because it’s just another format, like cassette tapes, records, and cave walls (imagine cataloging those). So what new format should we invest in that still provides the features of the CD kits? Enter tablets. Not only do tablets provide an alternative to read-to-me CD kits, but they also: Provide patrons with the technology they crave Librarians help filter through enormous…

#ALSC12 Phones, iPads, eReaders, & Tablets: Keeping Kids Connected to the Library

Laura Anderson Brack shared some valuable information on using mobile and eReading devices, eBooks, and apps. There are so many options, and that’s part of the challenge! You can loan devices in-house, circulate devices, or just offer services for customers’ own devices. There are kid-specific devices like V-Tech and LeapFrog tablets, some of which use downloaded apps and some of which use cartidges. Some libraries circulate cartridges for popular kids’ devices, some just keep them on hand for in-library use. We talked about program ideas using apps and devices- from using iPad apps and kids’ ebooks in storytime, to “self-publish your own eBook” workshops, and podcasting clubs, and simple “eReader Help Labs” Lots of people chimed in with ideas and favorite apps! There are also some interesting services that libraries can offer to customers for their devices. Besides OverDrive for eBooks, there are Zinio (for eMagazines), and Freegal and other…

Reflecting on Summer Meals

Hearing about Summer Meals a lot lately?  There has been a lot of publicity for this growing program, coming from wide ranging sources. One article, featured in the New York Times, gave a broad portrayal of how lunch service is working in different libraries across the country.  This article, for the Office of Intellectual Freedom blog, takes a different approach and champions the service as an intellectual freedom issue. My library system (King County Library System) has 13 branches offering some kind of meal service this summer.  While most are federally funded, as described in the New York Times article, several (including mine) are being paid for by donations from our KCLS Foundation.  We follow similar guidelines (food for everyone 18 and under, must be consumed on site) for the three days per week that we serve lunch. This is the first year that my branch has served meals in…

Back to School & Back to Books!

Someone gave me a print of that old WPA poster years ago, and every autumn I’m tempted to make it the center of a seasonal display (it says September right on it, when else will I use it?) but I don’t know; somehow I don’t find the image quite as inviting as children’s library ought to be.  But aesthetics aside, I DO love the sentiment of the slogan.  Using computers, tablets, and smartphones are a part of daily life for many of our young patrons, and we want to make sure that reading great books is as well.  Whether you’re in a public library catching your breath after the busy summer schedule, or a school library gearing up for a new year, this is a great time to gather some really fun, free, online resources with strong literary connections that we can use for story time components, lesson plan enrichment…