Last year, our Youth Services department, and specifically our Teen Center, underwent a freshening up. After reconfiguring our floor space and thinking about how it is used, we decided to purchase several MacBook PROs for afterschool use. We had been circulating e-readers and tablets, so this was a natural next step for us.
We made an initial purchase of eight laptops, and the kids went wild! We rolled out this new service a year ago and it has proven to be so popular that we recently invested in six more just to keep up with the demand.
So, how does this work, you wonder? First, the laptops can only be used by children in grades 6-12 on the third floor; they never leave the library. All one needs is a library card in good standing, a valid student ID and they are ready to borrow one. We ask each child to read and sign an agreement form that clearly states the borrowing guidelines, and we take a moment to discuss the terms of the agreement.
Our staff quickly realized this was an excellent opportunity to have more interaction with the children who are borrowing them. Not only was this a great way to learn their names, we now have the chance to talk to them about school, books, movies, etc. while we are preparing their laptops for use.
Each laptop comes loaded with a variety of popular applications kids really want. iPhoto, Garage Band, iMovie and Scratch 1.4 are a few that are in frequent use. Also popular is Face Time and Photo Booth. One might think these laptops are being borrowed for social media and gaming purposes, but I mostly observe them being used as a vehicle for creativity.
Recently, we began to offer technology classes geared towards children in grades 4 and up. We’ve held classes featuring programs such as Garage Band and iMovie where children created their own music or movies. Other well-attended sessions featured Raspberry Pi, the credit card sized computer that can connect to a television and a keyboard and has quite a bit of functionality for something so small and Arduino, an open source electronics platform that makes building interactive objects, such as robots more accessible.
Stay tuned, we’ll be having more classes in December!
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