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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

PLA Report: iPads in Libraries

Our fearless leader Kathy asked me to attend the PLA program presented by a gentleman from the Philadelphia Free Library about how they have been using iPads in libraries.  I sent her all of my notes, but here are a few of the highlights I wanted to share with everyone else.  I broke my report up into 2 broad categories: Apps and Uses.

Apps:
  • Everything on iPads works through apps.  Apps need to be purchased at the iTunes store
  • In order to use the iTunes store you need to register your iPad and fund your account.  Now, it asks for a credit card, but you DO NOT need to give them one.  Instead, go to the local grocery store and buy iTunes gift cards to load onto your account.  I do this at home and work.  You register the iPad to your library but use gift cards to have the money on the account which Apple requires.
  • He spent a good amount of time talking about how you can evaluate apps, especially those that cost money.  Right now it is hard to find reviews other than through the iTunes store.  However, he did suggest the blog, iPad Insight as his favorite resource.  They highlight apps, review apps, and run sales on apps.  I was unaware of this resource, and have enjoyed looking at it all week.
  • Another suggested place to go for app selection was the Apple Educator Group.  Although they are sponsored by Apple and want you to buy apple products, the are educators and will tell you how to use the apps they are suggesting in an education setting.
  • He reminded us that there are too many apps to look into them all, even with these selection tools.  He suggested getting staff involved.  Give the iPad to a staff member with an assignment to look into the apps available in a particular category. This gets staff using the iPad (which will increase their comfort level with the technology) and allows them to become an expert in that one category, freeing you and other staff up to concentrate on other areas. He also suggested letting your teens play with the iPad and then have them tell you what apps they like and use.
  • In general though we still need better ways to review and evaluate apps.
Uses:
  • You can use the iPad as a supplement to programs you are already doing.  So use it in a traditional story time to add sounds, music, or pictures.  Use it during a teen or adult program.  He gave an example of an Observe the Moon program he did with teens.  He did not have an iPad but afterwards he realized if he had one he could have downloaded some astronomy apps and let the teens interact with them on their own after he presented.
  • My favorite suggestion was to use the iPad to supplement a One Book, One Community program.  They did something with Jonathan Safran Foer's book Eating Animals.  As one part of the series of programs he had people come to the library to use and evaluate cooking and recipe apps and then asked people to to write what their "perfect" food app would do.  You could do something like this for any One Book program.
  • You can also use an iPad as a catalog interface.  Many libraries are beginning to work with their catalog providers to make iPad apps that can access their ILS.  Even better, give iPads to staff to encourage roving reference.
  • iPads are a great option when you are outside of the library.  Many of the reference sources already have apps and there are barcode reading apps that will allow you to remotely check out materials.  Now when you are doing outreach, at the Farmer's Market, Local Schools, Community Carnival (where ever) you can easily provide full library services remotely. I love this!
  • If you only have 1 iPad at your library and do not allow patrons to access it, at the very least he said you should remember to use it to take pictures throughout the library, especially during programs because it is an all in one device.  You take the picture or video and can immediately upload it to the website, Facebook, YouTube, etc... No other hardware, cords, or software required.
  • Finally, as a presentation tool, the iPad is not ideal...yet.  The cords to hook it up to a projector are expensive.  Although for $79 you can get Apple TV for your building; Apple TV will wirelessly mirror you iPad.
Let me know if you are using iPads at your library.  Our plan is to start by letting staff use them and then moving toward checking them out to patrons.  But we are only in the talking about it phase right now.

1 comment:

Lizzy said...

We use iPads quite a bit in the library.
We have an iPad at the reference desk that staff can use for roving reference and to show patrons how to access library eBooks.
We have an iPad 2 that is for staff use only. We use it in library eBooks class and we offer an iPad/iPhone class.
We just installed 2 iPads in the picture book area for children. This way, they can start learning touch screen technology without messing up their parents' devices.
We will be soon installing one in the YA area and one in the magazine/newspaper area. I'm not sure exactly how these will be used. Initially, we're going to pre-load them with apps and see how the patrons use them and what feedback they give us about the service. I guess we'll just see from there!