‘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…

Story Time, Media Mentorship, and Modeling Media Behavior

Technology and story times are a pairing that Children’s Librarians are always striving to balance. Tablets allow us to bring in more variety to our story times, as well as to more easily communicate with increasingly diverse story time groups. However, we also have to keep in mind that as Children’s Librarians that we are the primary resource for many families for how they should be interacting with technology around their children. I have been re-reading Becoming a Media Mentor by Claudia Haines, Cen Campbell, and the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) as our Children’s Services Department seeks to create a more formalized process by which to train staff as media mentors. While the focus of the book is on giving staff what they need to help families determine which technology tools serve their needs best, it has spurred the thought of how we mentor families by the…

Community Building with Technology

While the use of modern technology can still be contentious in libraries, by now many of us feel comfortable with or at least accept the existence of modern technology in libraries. One fear many of us still have is the problem of youngsters becoming isolated  users of devices. We encourage parent interaction, but we certainly can’t force it. We can, however, provide contexts that encourage not only parent interaction, but co-play among the children. On the floor play: Children’s librarians have long been champions of play and its merits. Most of us probably have some sort of play on the public floor of our children’s spaces, and we often see this resulting in unexpected play partners and friendships. We might hesitate to put screen or other technology in public places, for fear it will encourage solo play or detract from imaginative play. If you’re using screen technology, limit the apps…