Children & Technology

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 wealth of apps and choose the best for kids
  • iPad owners may test apps before they buy them
  • Educational assistance for all children regardless of income or developmental ability
  • Cost effective compared to other informational tools

In April, my library was approved for 3 mounted tablets and 2 in-house circulating tablets. Without the diligent research, dedicated staff, and the passion to provide information, this would have never happened.

Before Release
Before Release

To begin, there were a few guidelines starting off. One, we wanted to replace the listening station boomboxes with one mounted tablet always available for use–this would also pose as a valuable publicity tool. Two, we decided that in-house circulation provides a nice safety net to test out the waters of our patron’s interest in this technology. Finally, we chose an Early Literacy age limit of 2-8 because (1) this gives us a more constrained set of rules (already in place) to apply to users, such as needing to be accompanied with an adult at all times in the library, and (2) we had been pushing Early Literacy initiatives recently and Early Literacy tablets would be a nice complimentary feature.

In order to show my library director that tablets are valued by patrons, I had to do my research. I wanted to interview libraries in our area. I used a local library organization’s listserv to search for posts about “library’s best apps,” knowing that these libraries had tablets circulating, and contacted the main person responsible for the devices.

With the information from these interviews, I assembled a committee to tackle all the details and formulate our own plan of action. We then transferred all our research into a proposal to the Director and Assistant Director.

By clearly and concisely presenting our research in a professional manner with a lot of passion behind our proposal, our committee showed our director, without a doubt, that funding this project is the right step for our library. Instead of just 3 iPads, we were approved for 5! Awww yeah.


Kelsey Cole is a youth servheadshot(2)ices librarian at the Fremont Public Library in Mundelein, IL. For more details on this process, visit her personal blog at  for more than you can imagine.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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  1. RuthK

    5 circulating tablets instead of 3! Wow! Congratulations! Tablets really are a great addition to any set of library apps. Compared to ginormous boomboxes, they don’t take up so much space and tablets offer so many functions that even the biggest boombox out there can never give. 😀 Then again, the challenge is to mend this technology to teach kids the value of reading and learning and not just techie fun. What brands and models of tablets did you get?

  2. iTechnoReview

    Thanks for sharing fabulous information.It’ s my pleasure to read it.I have also bookmarked you for checking out new posts.

  3. Pingback: Let’s talk iPads, part deux | ALSC Blog

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