Monday, October 21, 2013

Early Literacy iPads– Final Details

Interested in our initial planning for the iPads? Check it out here. Looking for apps? I listed some of my favorites here. Once again, I have to thank all of the great librarians who helped me with this process!

Unveiling the iPads

Before 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!

In addition to the one-on-one time, I posted a "cheat sheet" at the reference desk for opening and closing procedures with the iPad. Putting in this extra time training the staff was definitely worth it.

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 Issues

After 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.


  1. You did a great job navigating us through the debut and first month. Despite the fact I knew what you were doing, I loved this look right into your mind! Great soapbox moment too BTW!!

  2. Love this post, Brooke! I want to do an early literacy station at my library and would love to have and iPad available.
    I completely agree with your last paragraph. In one of my interviews this summer they asked me about apps and technology and I said that if we aren't helping parents we are leaving a huge gap between our services and the family home. A lot of families have tablets and their child is using it. Just because we don't tell them about ti doesn't mean they aren't doing that. So we can close that gap by offering our services to help them use their tablet in a positive and interactive way... They didn't really like my opinion on that, oh well! Their loss ;)

    Hope everything is going well!

    1. What a great interview answer! It was definitely their loss. One day when you win the award for Librarian of the Universe they will totally regret their decision :)

      I completely agree with you on all your points. The kids have really responded to the iPads well. There have been a few hiccups with parents, but for the most part they are willing to listen. If you need any help with your early literacy station just let me know! I seriously asked about 1,000 questions to anyone who would listen to me.

  3. Hi Brooke! Thanks for sharing your whole process! My library currently has iPad kits available for checkout, for which we've gotten great feedback from patrons, and we'll hopefully be able to add some tablets to our play area for non-residents or families who just want to play in the library without checking out a kit. I was wondering how you locked down the iPads so that only one particular app could be accessed? Was there something you could turn on within the iPad settings or restrictions menu? Or did you have to download a particular app to manage that? I think your idea of rotating a collection of apps is really interesting, and it sounds like that might also mitigate kids wanting to hog the iPad. Thanks again for sharing!!

    1. Hi Katie! Thanks for reading! We do lock our iPads on one specific app a day. We have our guided access setting turned on. You can read about it here...

      This really helps with kids not staying on the iPad all day. Each app can be "finished" usually within 10-15 minutes. If we let them view all of our apps, I think we would definitely have a lot more behavior problems when there time was up. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions!



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