On Developing iPad Programming: Part III, by Cindy Wall

Once your iPads are locked (in a secure storage area) and loaded (with apps) and ready to use, it is common not to know where to begin. I recommend that a concerned librarian start with adding apps to an existing program. While not all programs lend themselves to the inclusion of an iPad, there are many that do. Adding even one app to a program gives the librarian a chance to adjust to using iPad technology with a group.

Storytime is a terrific place to start. If you don’t have multiple iPads, use one iPad and share a book app with a group. Storytimes with smaller groups offer the opportunity to allow the children to take turns using the interactive features. An art program featuring sculpting can be enhanced with a sculpting app. A creative writing group can publish their own ebooks by using an app. A book discussion group can use an app related to content in the book, the author, or illustrations. The opportunities are endless. Whatever your program topic, there’s an app for that.

One librarian at the conference wanted to know how long it takes to take an idea and turn it into a program. It actually varies. I have a terrific co-worker who is my partner in crime in many iPad programs, and we bounce ideas off each other all the time. Two heads are definitely better than one. I’ve been extremely lucky in that everyone in our Children’s Department has enthusiastically embraced iPad programming.

A librarian who visited our library wondered if we circulated the iPads or put them out for patrons to use during times when we were not using them in a program. Due to the number of programs that use apps, we do not circulate the iPads. On any given day the iPads are either in use or being prepared for use in an upcoming program. This seems to work best for us. In part because the use of the iPads is controlled, we’ve had no hardware problems with any of them (knock wood!).

I try to provide encouragement to every librarian who reaches out to me for information on iPad programming. I think it is so important for librarians to stay up-to-date so that libraries are seen as places to find innovation in addition to books and movies. It is in this innovation that the future of libraries may well be found.

If you have any questions about iPad programming you’d like answered, post them in the comments section and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Cindy is the head of Children’s Services at Southington Library and Museum in Southington, CT. She has been creating iPad programming for two years and has recently taken to the podium to spread the word about the joys of integrating apps into programming for children of all ages. While Cindy enjoys the traditional duties of a librarian (collection development, reader’s advisory, reference and more), she loves the challenge of creating new, innovative programming.

About Amy Koester

I'm a youth services librarian with a penchant for exciting ideas and engaging programs. It's a sure bet that if you talk to me about STEAM, whimsy, and trying new things, we'll be best friends forever.

Posted on July 22, 2013, in iPad and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi Cindy,
    I care passionately about the library’s ability to promote and support early literacy as well as child and family health. I think technology can be a tool for many things but we have to be critical and conscioous users to know when to use it and in a way that makes our lives better. I see we become lost when technology becomes an end in itself. I have found no specific or compelling information to motivate me to incorporate screen-based content into story times. I wrote this post recently:


    Am I wrong?


  2. Hi Kathy,

    At the end of your comment you asked, “am I wrong?” In a word, yes. I use iPads in programming for children of all ages, but I began with early literacy classes. In my two years’ experience, I have found that well-chosen apps and ebooks in combination with parental involvement and librarian facilitation can make magic happen in the minds of young learners. Apps and ebooks are fascinating tools with endless opportunities for individualized creativity and intellectual development. To ignore their potential, and that of other technological developments, is a missed opportunity.

    You cannot stem the tide of technology. You can, however, direct it in a way that produces the maximum benefit. Look at the generations of children who have learned their letters, numbers, shapes and more from Sesame Street.

    Of course, there are TV shows that add nothing to a child’s life, just as there are apps that add nothing. Parents and children are using apps. At least for the foreseeable future, that isn’t going to change. Progress happens. Rock ‘n roll, television, computers – they are all here to stay. If readers’ advisory is one of our main tasks, shouldn’t librarians direct parents to the best ebooks and apps available?

    I think apps and ebooks are simply two tools available for parents and librarians to promote literacy. There are many others. If you are uncomfortable using technology in storytime, I don’t think you should. That is your choice. If you feel the need not to attend a storytime with technology, I support you. I think everyone should be able to make their own choice.

    That’s the whole point. Libraries are places where the freedom of information, all types of information in all formats, is sacrosanct. It is the basis of why we are here, doing what we are doing, every day.

    I’m so glad that you read Little eLit and took the time to comment.


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