I co-lead a program tonight entitled E-Books, Online Resources & Apps for Parents of Young Children. We had a group of 12 people, all parents of kids ages ranging from 0-6 years old. We had 2 app developers in the room. This was the first program of its kind at the Mountain View Library, and I sincerely hope it’ll be the first of many.
What struck me this evening was that I ended up doing reader’s advisory for apps in the middle of the program. A woman asked me to recommend some apps to help her 3 year old develop some spatial and mathematical skills. I used it as a teaching moment; here’s where I would go to find those resources, here’s how I would search, here’s how I would evaluate the results of the search.
Sound familiar, librarians? It was a classic reader’s advisory/reference question. My patron was looking for age-appropriate, good quality, educational media to share with her child. But you know what? I can bet you those questions don’t get asked much on the children’s reference desk.
Why not? Why don’t we get asked to recommend apps? I’ll tell you why. Because the public library has not yet effectively established itself as an authority in this medium. Yeah, we do books. We do DVDs. We even do video games. But we don’t really do apps yet. The only reason that woman thought to ask me that question was because I was standing at the front of the room saying “Ask me about apps!”
When people want a good app, they do NOT think of the library (or the library’s website) as the place to go to find it. Knowing good books is not going to cut it for the patrons of the future. Or…. wait a second…… Knowing good books is not going to cut it for the patrons of the NOW. If all you’ve got is books and databases in your bag-o-tricks, get ready to have your budget cut and your community support ho-hum.
Librarians! This is IT! This is the future! It’s here! If you want to remain relevant in people’s lives, get on board with emerging technology, or you WILL become irrelevant. Learn where to find good quality apps. Learn how to teach others where to find good quality apps. Start regular, ongoing programming in your library based around finding good apps. Someone asks where to find the books on how to design apps? App development program!
Now if I could only find a way to circulate apps the way we can now circ eBooks……..