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David Lee King

iPads in Libraries – Some Stories



There are quite a few uses for an iPad in a library setting, and some libraries have already started experimenting. Here are two examples:

#1: Omaha Public Library

From Amy Mather – “For the past few years, the Omaha Public Library’s Summer Reading Program kick-off party has been held in Elmwood Park in Omaha and has attracted up to 2500 kids for kick-off activities including live music, games,  pony rides, etc. Although always a success, we had one glaring “missed opportunity” at these events: signing up kids & teens for the Summer Reading program “online” at an outside venue.”

“Gary Wasdin, director of Omaha Public Library, applied for a local grant to obtain 6 iPads in which we could use to signup kids & adults for the Summer Reading Program. The iPads would allow us to connect to the AT&T’s 3G network and signup patrons on the spot for the Summer Reading Program. On June 9th, we signed up over 500 kids, teens, and adults using iPads. The iPad allowed us to take the mobile library to the next level and we looked really cool too!”

#2: Genesee Valley Educational Partnership

From Christopher Harris – “I am at a school library system, a regional support center funded by NY state to provide services and resources for 22 small, rural school districts in Western NY. Since we got the iPads so late in the year, right now we are just loaning them to teachers and librarians to build awareness in our districts. Over the summer, we will be working on developing some best practice guidelines and suggested uses for the devices. We hope to begin lending them for student use in the fall, though they may be for in-school use only the first year as they remain a very high-value theft target. We have 150 iPod shuffles we send home with students without any problems, so hopefully we will get to that point soon with the iPads as well.”

“Right now, we are loaning books from iBooks. My reading of the terms of use suggest that we can do this within our system. I am also working directly with publishers to secure additional content. We have a number of graphic novel biographies from Rosen, as well as a large collection (125 sci-fi/fantasy books) that I just got from another publisher. As for other apps, we purchased Pages/Keynote/Numbers and have 5 keyboard docks we can send out. We also have Dragon Dictation, Sundry Notes, Complete Shakespeare, Historical Maps, and a few others.”

What are these two libraries doing?

  • fixing a problem (signing up kids online … in a park)
  • experimenting … but also developing guidelines and strategy for use
  • breaking out of the “this is the way we’ve always done it” syndrome
  • applying new technology to traditional library services

Is your library experimenting with iPads? If so – how are you using them?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Carolyn Foote

    We are piloting six in our high school library and they should arrive next week. I'll keep you posted (or post on my blog anyway!)

  • http://andyburkhardt.com Andy Burkhardt

    We just got a few for our librarians to play with. I'm planning on using one when I'm on reference shifts to help folks on the go. I always go down to the stacks with students and then want to look one more thing up. If I had an ipad with me we could search right there. They also seem like they could be really useful in meetings. They're not as imposing as a laptop or netbook that sits in front of you and creates a barrier between you and others. You could take notes or look relevant things up. I'm excited to see how we use them!

  • Lyndamk

    We've started using the WiFI only ones with some of our library staff. They are a great help for any work that is outside of our offices–weeding remote storage, doing remote reference. We didn't need 3G because our campus is completely wired.

    We've just started using them, but I've already found mine to be much better then toting a laptop around everywhere. For example, in weeding remote storage yesterday I used one standing on top of a tall step stool in the middle of the stax. A laptop would have made that even more precarious.

  • http://twitter.com/JustinLibrarian Justin The Librarian

    http://tametheweb.com/2010/06/20/the-ipad-throu

    I just posted this on Tame The Web about a teen who uses the iPad in not only our library but his school!

  • Jae

    We are expecting our first iPad in the mail any day now! We're going to show it off to patrons in some of our tech related training, and we're going to use it for roving reference, outreach, etc…to link back to library resources and services. Can't wait!

  • Denise

    We have 4 iPads in our academic library that we loan to library patrons for in-house use only. We also loan laptops, Kindles, iPods and Sony Readers (some of those devices may be taken outside of the library). For now, patrons are using them to browse the web, stream media, play games, read e-books, and just check out a new technology.

  • http://andyburkhardt.com Andy Burkhardt

    I have a quick question. If you got several iPads, how did you set them up for multiple users? Did each user just use their own iTunes account or did you create a library account?

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    We have two – one person in IT plugs them into his PC for upgrades, and I think we have a library iTunes account that we use for both. Not sure how the above libraries are handling so many!

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Sweet – thanks for sharing the link!

  • Edo Postma

    In Holland we don't officialy have the iPad yet, but we know our ways… We have obtained some.

    Right now we are making an iPadApp about bookillustrations. This is the theme for the national Kidsbookweek. It wil be an App that libraries can use in educational programs and groupvisits. Kids can make new illustrations with the use of existing bookillustrations. Digital patchwork.

    This summer we are opening a libraryfacility at Schiphol airport. This wil be a kind of Falgshipstore to present the state of the dutch libraries. Not borrowing, but Holland- and librarypromotion. People can use the media to have a pleasant stay, while their waiting for their next flight. They can sit in relaxingchairs with build in iPads. We modified the iPads so that they will only show the icons of the programs we have put on. Travellers can read a book, listen to music, see videos all about Holland (art, music, film, sport, books etc.). The iPads are build in quit ingenious. Users can turn them around, without the chance of breaking them. We already have a similar system with an iPod Touch. We use them as musicchairs, where people can listen to a selection of music. Music that can be borrowed in the library ofcourse.
    More info: http://dereisbibliotheek.wordpress.com/

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  • Richard Glady

    Scottsdale Public Library will be teaching a class entitled “Netbooks, the iPad and eReaders” discussing the different tools available and the different needs met by these tools. I also will be talking about interacting with the library and Overdrive.
    In November, we will be having a hands-on program where customers will be allowed to play with the Nook, Sony Reader, iPad, Kindle…Our goal is to get our customers to associate the library with new technology and to be a source of information about this technology.

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  • http://glennfriesen.com Glenn Friesen

    I'm pretty sure iPad's in libraries close to Santa Maria, CA aren't allowed. At least, at one point, they weren't… But, man, I wish they were!

    Excellent article – thanks for the shareable news… I'm going to email my friend at the SMPL right now… ;)

  • Erika

    If you want to know how to deploy iPads in large-scale scenarios, read the enterprise scenarios, deployment guide, and download and play with the configuration utility. They are all found here: http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/ . Apple also has active support forums where you can find answers to all kinds of questions. They are found here: http://discussions.apple.com/category.jspa?cate

  • http://twitter.com/bmljenny Jenny Reiswig

    Like Andy, I'm curious about how iPads can be managed in a lending situation. Our IT department bought a couple to lend around to the staff, and they're finding it kind of problematic as a shared device. People want to learn the whole experience including getting apps, but giving out the iTunes account seems ill-advised unless there's an easy way to re-image or wipe the device on return. Prepaid iTunes gift cards can solve the problem of having to associate the account with a credit card, but there's still the matter of the account. I presume in a lending situation, you would just not allow any app installing? Would you expect patrons to wipe out any changes they had made to email accounts, calendars or home wifi networks? I do love the idea of using them as a mobile service point. I understand there are some hacks for getting it to accept a barcode reader too.

  • http://twitter.com/bmljenny Jenny Reiswig

    Like Andy, I'm curious about how iPads can be managed in a lending situation. Our IT department bought a couple to lend around to the staff, and they're finding it kind of problematic as a shared device. People want to learn the whole experience including getting apps, but giving out the iTunes account seems ill-advised unless there's an easy way to re-image or wipe the device on return. Prepaid iTunes gift cards can solve the problem of having to associate the account with a credit card, but there's still the matter of the account. I presume in a lending situation, you would just not allow any app installing? Would you expect patrons to wipe out any changes they had made to email accounts, calendars or home wifi networks? I do love the idea of using them as a mobile service point. I understand there are some hacks for getting it to accept a barcode reader too.

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  • Sutherland Library

    Our library bought one for staff to get familiar with the technology. We eventually plan to hold sessions for our customers to see various types of technology in action and what it can do for them.
    The problem of itunes/apps is being managed by using a corporate credit card and only allowing 2 staff to download paid content.

    We have just bought a Sony e-book reader and we are planning to get an Android tablet soon.
    We have loaded overdrive titles onto the e-book reader and we are planning to subscribe to another e-title vendor very soon.
    In Australia we have to wait for the toys!

  • Junk Mail1966

    Our library (Hutchinson Public Library) has been using an iPad for reference work for about 3 months now. The greatest benefit has been that you can help patrons on the fly, check statuses, search new topics, refer them to databases, etc. without having to head back and forth to the desk. Unlike Mr. Sather, I think this hasn’t been a waste of money. Libraries, despite the widespread misconception, experiment all the time and often find novel uses for new technologies.

  • Dacelcasey

    I have six in my upper school library as well,I’d love to hear some of your ideas on how you intend to implement them into your library. Please email me at dacelcasey@gmail.com

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