Unveiling the iPadsBefore we put the iPads in the public space, I wanted to make sure our staff was completely comfortable with them. I left a two week period between the app downloads and our start date for staff to play with the iPad and get comfortable with the different apps.
Change is hard for some people. I decided that the best approach for my coworkers was a one-on-one demonstration. I personally scheduled a time with each staff member to show them how to lock the ipads, pick the app, shut them down, etc. This gave them plenty of opportunities to ask me questions and I could see where people were struggling. I also think this made it easier for people to approach me if they had additional questions about the iPads. Plus, it gave me a great opportunity to explain why we were introducing iPads to our patrons!
We also made a rules sheet for the iPads. These are just our basic guidelines for what we expect to happen at the stands. Thanks again to Kelsey at Library Bonanza for letting me blatantly copy her design!
Working out the IssuesAfter the launch, there was at least 1 issue a week with the iPads. Very minor ones, but issues none the less.
First, the headphones just weren't working for us. The case wouldn't close with the Y-splitter. Then, we had issues with kids ripping the headphones out by accident. In the end, we got rid of them completely. They are now kept at a volume of 2 or 3 bars and it is wonderful. It is loud enough for the parents and children to hear it, but not loud enough for us to hear it at the desk. Plus, I think it has made the parent/child interaction happen more naturally.
We also discovered a couple of apps that have semi-hidden ways to get to the app store. Since our wi-fi is disabled, it makes our screens just freeze up. We have since figured out a way to disable the buttons completely, or we have just taken the app out of rotation.
Next, the iPad stand didn't really cover the home button like advertised. There was a piece of plastic over it, but it would move if pushed too hard. Plus, there was a gap where little fingers could reach the button if they tried hard enough. They did. All of our iPads are locked on an app a day, so if they reached the button it wasn't a security issue, but it was annoying. We would have to go enter the passcode and reset the guided access. To fix this I put duct tape over the plastic home cover to make it move less. Then, I added poster tape to the iPad stand to make the tablet fit a little closer to the edge. This seems to have fixed the issue.
Now What?Our iPads have officially been out for over a month now. The response has been overwhelming. They are constantly being used by both parents and children. Plus, the interaction that happens at the iPads is amazing. Parents are talking about colors, characters, shapes, etc, with their little ones. It is so fun to listen to the conversations from the desk.
Also, parents are asking for recommendations! We list our apps for the week next to the iPads and I've had a few different parents tell me they've downloaded their library favorites. In January, we will put 15-20 new apps into the rotation schedule and I'm already starting to scour the web for possibilities. This addition of new material will keep things fresh and interesting for both the children and parents that visit us weekly.
Now, for my soapbox moment...
At the end of the day, we are children librarians. We are the professionals that can tell parents great bedtime books, show them wonderful science experiments to do at home, or explain why reading is so essential to child development. Why shouldn't we tell them the great apps that are available too? Whether you personally like tablets or not, parents are still using them with their children. I think we are being presented with a wonderful opportunity to not only suggest great apps for parents, but also to educate parents about using technology with young children. The opportunities are there. It's up to us to take advantage of them.