When in Doubt, go to the Board

Cheryl Gould, whom I met at the first Eureka! Leadership Institute, has recently been elected to the California Library Association’s Board of Directors. She specializes in mental model busting, she’s tons of fun and is very supportive of those of us who are trying to innovate in the library world.  So I sent her this email about what I’m trying to do with kids and technology in the hopes that she could bring some of it to the attention of the California Library Association.

Hi Cheryl!

Congrats on your illustrious election! Well done.

I have been working on an issue within public libraries that I think could use some help from above. The children’s publishing industry has been growing at an enormous rate (252%!!!!) and interactive media is becoming the standard for children’s digital content.

“Children’s and youth media are a prototype for what is happening in the publishing industry but also for what is happening at the moment socially.” Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Interactive media is the future of publishing, and libraries are NOT keeping up with this phenomenon. Sometimes it’s a matter of the hardware (iPads are expensive!), but more often I think it’s a matter of children’s librarians thinking that interactive or digital media for kids is not in their job description. It could also be a case of the large library content vendors not having a product for libraries that extends into the interactive realm (Sesame Street eBooks are ok, and Lerner has an “interactive” nonfiction product, but it’s not at the same level as what’s available commercially for mobile devices).

SLJ, Horn Book and Kirkus are all reviewing kid’s apps. The Cybils give a Book app award. There are committees (I’m serving on one!) and task forces at a national level (ALSC) specifically for dealing with children and technology in libraries. California’s children’s librarians should be MUCH more active in this publishing revolution than they are. There should be more digital programming for kids in libraries (Douglas County Libraries in Colorado started thinking about digital programming for kids in 2011! The Darien Library in Connecticut started circulating Early Literacy iPads in 2011 too!).

California is the home of Silicon Valley! Google! Apple! Why are we not more on board with this? I have developed a small pilot project with the Santa Clara County Library District and I hope to beging incorporating digital media into children’s programming at the Mountain View Public Library as well.

People live, work and read on their smart phones and tablets. They hand these devices to their kids, but most people really don’t know where to go to find good content. Just like with books, people want to know where to go to find out what is age appropriate, good quality and not overly commercial for their children. The library should be stepping into this role. It is SUCH an opportunity for us, and we are not taking advantage of it like we should be.

I see parents handing devices to their kids to play angry birds or zombie killing games. It breaks my heart. If those parents knew that they could be handing their child a book on their smart phone, don’t you think they’d be more likely to do it? (I was really saddened by this recently in a coffee shop- if you don’t look at any of the other links here, read this one)

Children’s publishing is changing. Drastically. And California’s libraries and children’s librarians should be changing drastically to keep up with it, or face obsolescence.

I recommend the following:

  1. We need to train our children’s librarians in this technology. This is the nature of the job now. Get with the program.
  2. We need to develop digital programming and services for kids in libraries.
  3. We need to work directly with app developers to figure out a way to share good quality interactive media for children in libraries.
  4. We need to get the hardware into libraries.

I’m willing to help out on any and all of these fronts. I’ve been toiling away in my own little communities, but it needs to be addressed from much higher up.

If you have a chance, bring this up in your new role on the CLA board. Let’s get this party started!

Cen Campbell
LittleeLit.com

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Posted on October 18, 2012, in Libraries and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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