iPads for the Tweens

We have an iPad pilot project going on at our library right now. If it goes well, we might expand the project – more iPads, more areas, etc.

But for now, here’s what we’re doing:

  • We have two iPads out in our kid’s area – specifically in our Tweens area (kids ages 9-12)
  • Somewhere, we found some huge, spongy iPad cases
  • Each iPad has some games, art apps, and other age-appropriate apps
  • They are chained to a table so they don’t walk off

And they seem to be pretty popular!

[GARD align=”right”] The project is going well so far. We started off with some pretty normal black sleeve/cases – those didn’t last long, hence the huge, thick, spongy cases. There’s no power connected to them, so we have to recharge them every day. And I think we’ve had some problems keeping customers out of settings, etc. Sure, you can set up a password for some things – but that won’t keep people out of all the settings on an iPad.

Otherwise – it’s going well, and we’ll assess it and either grow the project or kill it, depending on feedback.

What’s your library doing with iPads or tablets? I’m curious!

iPads at the Airport

Like iPads, and think they could work in a public space? Check this video out! I recently saw a bunch of iPads at the Delta terminal at LaGuardia airport in New York, and took a short video of them. Here’s a link to some photos, too.

Basically, here’s what I saw – hundreds of iPads in the airport terminal gates, secured to tables with a cable. Each iPad had airport info, news, games, a restaurant menu, and web access apps installed. You could order items from the restaurant via a credit card swiper beside the iPad. No signup, no waiting list – just find an empty iPad and start using it. Here’s a couple of news articles written about this experiment.

The only real problem I saw was one of sorta gross smudges on the iPads. Thankfully, I also saw someone walking around, cleaning the screens.

iPads in the airportI think this type of setup could easily work in a library setting! Here are some starter thoughts on potential uses:

  • catalog-only computers
  • computer “overflow” – get out the iPads!
  • Simple browsing stations. Who needs PCs?
  • Complete mobile technology in the library – no PCs needed (with those handy self-service tablet checkout machines that were being shown in the exhibit hall at ALA Annual). Just check out an iPad, then take it wherever you want to in the library.
  • Out-of-the-building events
  • For staff, they could work nicely as roving reference tools.

Question – how does your library use iPads or mobile tablet technology? I’ll start: so far, we have some iPads that staff can check out for a learning opportunity, we have experimented with them for roving reference, and we teach a class on using an iPad. How about you?

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?