Blog Archives

MakerSpaces: A Webinar and Book with Little eLit-ers Cindy Wall and Lynn Pawloski

The Little eLit community now includes 200+ library staffers and other professionals across North America. It should come as no surprise that these passionate librarians are involved in many youth services initiatives in addition to the usual young children and new media focus of Little eLit. Today’s post, by Cindy Wall and Lynn Pawloski, highlights some of the pair’s work with makerspaces, another library service concept getting a lot of traction. ~Amy

Sometimes Libraryland hands you lemons and all you can do is make lemonade. If your library is too crowded to accommodate a dedicated MakerSpace like ours, don’t give up. Create your own mix of Maker lemonade with library Maker programming.

At the April 2013 Connecticut Library Association Annual Conference, we delivered a presentation on iPad programming for children that inspired many questions and much enthusiasm from the audience. On the same day, we attended a terrific presentation by Bill Derry and his colleagues at the Westport Public Library on MakerSpaces which, in turn, inspired our own questions and enthusiasm. However, when we returned to the reality of our own library, we were told our library was too small to house a dedicated MakerSpace.

What were we to do with all of this unbridled Maker enthusiasm? We decided that even if we couldn’t have a MakerSpace, we could have Maker programming. We started with programming for older children and worked our way through the ages until we offered Maker programming for ages 1-12.

While we were brainstorming Maker program ideas, we were still being contacted and visited by librarians interested in iPad programming. We wondered if we might receive the same amount of interest in our ideas for Maker programs as we did from our iPad programming presentation. Then we thought, “What if we wrote a book about Maker programming?” We laughed at the outrageousness of the suggestion, but researched publishers anyway. Sure enough, we found one who was interested in our proposal.

ABC-CLIO is currently editing our book, The Maker Cookbook: Recipes for Children’s and ‘Tween Library Programs. We’ll be previewing a selection of ideas from the book in the ALSC webinar, Maker Programming For Kids: No MakerSpace Required, on Wednesday, April 9th from 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET or Thursday, April 24th from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET. Some of the programs we’ll discuss include:

  • Balloon Zip Line
  • Stop Motion Film
  • Food Detectives
  • Maker Open House for Preschoolers
  • T-shirt Transfers

Maker programming is a great way to add diversity to your library’s offerings. There is something for everyone, regardless of budget, staff size or technology comfort level. So, go ahead, mix it up. Like real lemonade, your Maker programming will be refreshing and a sweet success!

Cindy and Lynn work together in the Children’s Department at Southington Library and Museum in Southington, CT. They have dedicated their year to creating Maker programming and have recently taken to the podium to spread the word about the joys of integrating Maker programming into programming for children of all ages. Cindy and Lynn are co-authors of the forthcoming book The Maker Cookbook: Recipes for Children’s and ‘Tween Library Programs.
Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.

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.

On Developing iPad Programming: Part II, by Cindy Wall

Introducing iPads into your library programming expands the opportunity for creativity and learning for both you and the children who attend your programming. When beginning anything new, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. This post deals with what some librarians feel is the biggest hurdle to overcome: technology.

Even librarians with personal iPhones or iPads question their ability to handle library iPads, especially in large numbers. One librarian found me shortly after my speech and asked, “Once I buy the iPads, what exactly do I do to set them up?” I explained that she had to download iTunes and open an iTunes account. Next, she should plug in each iPad and sync it. Up to ten iPads can be synced to one computer, and the iTunes account associated with that computer, at no additional cost.

A common misconception surrounds the apps themselves. I found that many librarians believe that the apps are only on the iPad. You can sync any app onto the iPad, but in actuality, the apps “live” in iTunes. You sync them onto and off of your iPad as needed. When you delete an app from the iPad, you don’t have to repurchase it. The app remains in iTunes. When I present eTots, I sync early literacy apps onto the iPads. When my co-worker presents her class for 9-12 year olds, she doesn’t want the children distracted by Elmo and Dora, so I remove the early literacy apps. It isn’t hard to remove or add an app; it just requires you sync the iPad. Remember to leave yourself enough time between classes to do just that.

Other technology questions focus on updating the apps and operating system. To me, the updates were the biggest surprise in working with iPads. There are a lot of updates and I have to take the time to open iTunes and click through a series of options to update. It isn’t taxing and is free of charge, but does take a little time as you must update each iPad individually. However, once you’ve told iTunes to update your apps, it will do so in the background and you are free to use your computer. For those libraries with a larger budget, a powersync tray or powersync cart is available, at $1000 and up, to perform the updates automatically. Rumor has it that the next generation of iPads may automatically update themselves. Now, that would be something!

Many questioned the specifics of the iPads I purchased for our library. I purchased wi-fi only iPads with 32 GBs of storage. This is enough storage space to load anything you want onto the iPads. If your library has wi-fi, there is no need to incur the extra expense of an iPad with a data plan. The library purchased CaseCrown iPad covers for each iPad. They are relatively inexpensive and have lasted for more than 2 years.

Now, your iPads are loaded with apps, what are you going to do with them? My next post will cover how to begin adding apps to programming, programming ideas, and whether or not you should circulate the iPads in between programs.

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.

On Developing iPad Programming: Part I, by Cindy Wall

Almost three years ago, I discovered the joy of children’s apps and plunged headlong into an amazing journey that has been so much fun for my patrons, and for me. I started with an iPad storytime and enjoyed it so much that I decided to add iPads to other programming. Soon, everyone was joining in on the fun, and our department had iPad programming for most ages.

An earlier program created an opportunity to apply for the Every Child Ready to Read grant. There was some discussion about whether or not the grant could be used for iPads and apps (it could!). This discussion led to my being asked to speak on iPad programming at the Connecticut Library Support Staff Section conference, and then at the Connecticut Library Association’s (CLA) annual conference.

It was a great opportunity not only to speak to, but also to meet and talk with librarians after the speech. Since CLA, I’ve had many librarians visit, phone, and email. They all had questions about how to start their own iPad programs. While some of the questions were specific to their particular situations, most were things anyone considering adding iPad programming to their library might want to know. These are topics that you and your library might be curious to explore.

At the speech itself, there was a lovely librarian who sheepishly asked, “Screen time is not recommended for young children. If a patron asked you that question, what would you say?” I told her that eTots was a one-on-one interactive sharing experience between a parent and child and not at all the passive experience of sitting a toddler in front of a screen. I also reminded everyone that most parents already allow their children to watch Sesame Street or other educational programming every once in a while. For those not comfortable with screen time, the library also offers many traditional storytimes. I made sure to stress that I wasn’t taking away or invalidating anyone’s choice, but merely adding to the options available at the library. I met up with the sheepish lady at lunch and she told me that she was going to start iPad programming at her library. Screen time was her sticking point, but once overcome, she was ready to embark on her own iPad journey.

Although screen time is a popular initial question, I’ve had numerous questions about handling the iPads themselves. In my next post, I’ll tell you exactly what to do once you receive the iPads, a little about apps and the scoop on the updates required for apps and your iPad’s operating system.

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.

eTots: A Public Library iPad Program for Preschoolers (from SLJ)

Cindy Wall, the Head of Children’s Services at the Southington Library & Museum in Southington, CT,  contributed the following post to School Library Journal’s Touch and Go blog in 2012. It’s full of great information and covers the process of developing the program. Cindy will be joining us at Little eLit and the growing ranks of children’s librarians who are developing best practices and professional development materials for using apps and eBooks with kids in libraries.

eTots 62 eTots: A Public Library iPad Program for Preschoolers

eTots: A Public Library iPad Program for Preschoolers

It’s my supervisor’s fault. Really. She purchased an iPad, downloaded The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore, and brought the tablet to work. When I saw those Flying Books swirling around the screen, ideas began twirling around my mind. If I was amazed—and delighted—by the app’s interactivity, how would children react?

I owned an iPhone and had purchased apps, but I’d never considered designing a program around this software until I viewed an app on the iPad. Now that was totally different experience. Tapping money designated for “something special” and funds from a technology endowment, I purchased a number of iPads. My first program incorporating tablets was a story time for one- and two-year-olds and their caregivers. I called it eBabies.

That pilot class taught me a few things; most importantly, that one-year-olds lacked the attention span for this type of program. I also learned that the silly, high-energy songs I love to incorporate in a traditional story time setting did not set the right tone for an iPad session.

Back to the drawing board. I changed the name of the program to eTots and registered two- and three-year-olds and their caregivers. Out came carpet squares (each child had one to sit on during the program) and in went songs that featured clapping, knee slapping, toe tapping, but not parading or jumping.

When eTots begins, the 12 pairs of children and caregivers choose a carpet square to sit on. Next to each spot is a sheet containing the lyrics for the songs we’ll be singing. The program opens with a welcome tune, sung to each child as he or she receives a nametag. Then, as a group, we sing a few songs that emphasize motion, but won’t get the children too rambunctious.

As I hand out the iPads, we recite an iPad poem based on the nursery rhyme “One, Two Buckle My Shoe.” As we read the book app together, I alert everyone to any interactivity on the screen, to make sure no one misses these features. When the reading is finished, we open another app–generally an educational or entertaining title, and I offer the adults a few pointers on using it. After that everyone is free to explore whatever they like. (I leave the apps from previous programs on the iPads.)

When the children begin to look restless, we pause to sing the goodbye song. Some people will leave then, while others remain to continue exploring on the iPad. At this point, I walk around the circle making sure everyone knows how to work the apps they’re interested in. Favorite book apps from this first year of programming have been Pat the BunnyMoo, Baa, La, La, La, and Another Monster at the End of This Book. Popular (nonbook) apps have been Easy-Bake Treats (the free, hands-down favorite of both girls and boys), Fish School, and My First Songs.

eTots is offered monthly and there’s a waiting list to enroll. Meanwhile, I’m working on a number of other ideas for future iPad programs. A colleague and I are planning a Titanic Adventure for tweens and I’ll be using an app to help children ages six to eight write and illustrate their own books. I see the possibilities and opportunities for creative programming with iPads as endless.

Cindy Wall
Head of Children’s Services
Southington Library & Museum