Digital Storytelling at Santa Clara County Library
I’m going to be presenting a little bit of digital storytelling goodness at the next Supervising Children’s Librarians meeting at Santa Clara County Library District (They have an awesome new website! Take a look!). I’ve been asked to talk about the following:
What is Digital Storytelling?
Digital Storytelling is a broad term that refers to the use of digital media in storytimes. What we’re talking about mostly is the use of book-based iPad apps. These can be useful in a number of different situations; when you have a huge crowd and even a large picture book doesn’t do the room justice, or when you have a small crowd and there’s an app with interactive features that can be used with a handful of preschoolers. You could also take a digital photo of a book and project it; some classic nursery rhyme books have interesting illustrations and lyrics presented beautifully on one page (like Jack and Jill).
Part of this project is making sure that each library has the devices they need; we will be ordering new iPads for each library, and we’re looking into other pieces of technology like Apple TVs (to minimize tripping hazards). Apple TVs can hook up to the projector and then receive input from your iPad wirelessly so you can move around the room and not be tethered by a VGA cable. Related to this project is a digital storytime music collection; we’re hoping to develop a collection of storytime music, get each library their own storytelling iPod, and create a collaboration tool to discuss the use of music and technology in early literacy programs.
There are already some libraries in the system that are using digital technology in their storytimes: Morgan Hill uses powerpoint to post song lyrics, Woodland uses an iPod. This digital storytelling project is more of a focused exploration of how we can use some of these tools in our programming and have all the tools available to all the braches, regardless of their storytime space or headcount. [note: some of our libraries have smart rooms with plug-and-play capability and built-in projectors, and some make do with a wee corner of the library and a cd player.]
Why Digital Storytelling?
But WHY would we want to use iPads in storytime? Why would we advocate for more screen time in this increasingly digital world?
This technology is already pervasive. How many of you see parents using smart phones during your programs? How often do you go out to a restaurant and see a family with a young child who is playing angry birds or some other god-awful game on an iPad? Don’t you think they’d like to know where to find GOOD quality digital media for their kids? There are a number of places where you can go to find out about good apps, but parents don’t necessarily know where those are. iTunes provides a user-generated rating system for apps just like Amazon does for books, but those ratings are not necessarily a true representation of the quality of the product, and they’re hosted by the seller! Children’s librarians know good content, they know age appropriateness and they know where to go to find more high quality content. Using high quality digital media in storytime is one way we can expose parents to good quality book-based or educational apps. This is just a fun new kind of reader’s advisory!
Many of our patrons here in Silicon Valley already have this kind of technology in their homes and they just need good recommendations for apps to use with their kids. On the flip side, there are also pockets of the county where the digital divide and the app gap are alive and well. As you well know, some people still don’t have computers in their homes, let alone iPads. Kids in those homes are not developing the digital literacy skills they will need in school; textbooks are on tablet computers now. They will be at a disadvantage in school if they are not familiar with this kind of technology. Using iPads in storytime is one step toward bridging the digital divide for parents with young kids.