App Chat at the MiKidLib Unconference, by Lisa Mulvenna

What happens when you put 20 or so youth services librarians in a room together?  They talk about apps!  Last Friday was the first MiKidLib, a youth services librarian unconference, at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library.  One of our afternoon breakout sessions was all about apps-the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Here’s what was discussed:

Devices-There was no one favorite device, although both the iPad and Nexus tablets were mentioned.  When choosing what to use, it is important to check for availability of apps before you purchase your tablets.  Customers will ask you why you chose what you did and this will help you explain why you chose what you did.  Know your community-do they mostly use one device over the other?  Also, check with your schools-if they only use iPads, you may want to do the same.  One library had recently purchased an Inspire-NG from Kaplanco which will support 50 touches at a time.

There was a big debate over whether or not to use apps in storytime.  Some parents will actually argue when you add them in as they want their storytimes to be screen-free.  It can also slow down your timing as you wait for an app to load.  Others thought of apps as an additional tool in our storytime toolbox, such as a flannelboard or puppets.  The big thing decided here was that intention and purpose are important.  Why do you want to add them and what do you hope to accomplish?

Other librarians have created tablet-specific programs to highlight apps.  They are extremely popular and then you only get attendees who want to learn about apps.  Participants want a chance to explore the apps used, so make sure you add this component into your program.  Two examples of programs are:

We all agreed that parents want to know about apps.  How can we put quality apps in their hands?  One idea was to schedule Facebook posts on the same day each week about a new app.  Does your library/children’s department have a blog?  If so, you can regularly post there.
Where can we find out about new apps?  The sources discussed include:

What were some of our favorite apps mentioned?

Due to the success of the day, MiKidLib will be an annual thing.  Look for us in 2015 in Kalamazoo, MI!

Lisa Mulvenna is the Head of Youth Services for the Clinton-Macomb Public Library and one of the three co-founders of MiKidLib.  You can also find her blogging at or on Twitter at @lmulvenna.


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 February 24, 2014, in Apps, conferences and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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