If you are a regular visitor to the Seattle Public Library, you may have noticed the addition of iPads mounted to a table in the children’s sections. We first noticed this a few months ago in the Fremont Library, and it was the first time our son showed no interest in the books on offer. He sat in front of the iPad playing games while my husband and I searched for picture books to check out.
There is an iPad at the Greenlake Library. There used to be an iPad at the Wallingford Branch, but I was told it was put away because the library itself is very small and the children’s section is tiny, but I was told that it may return. The Wallingford librarian encouraged me to send feedback to the main office, so I sent the following email.
I admit, I was a little perturbed.
My son and I have been going to the Fremont Library and Wallingford Library for 3 years now. For the first time ever he showed zero interest in the books that you have. Why? Because he was looking at your ipad. Every chance we had to get him to choose a book to take home, he ignored us. He sometimes would look up for a second but would quickly go back to the ipad. If you want children to remain interested in books and ensure the future viability of libraries, then I think it would be best to remove the ipads completely.
The response I got was boilerplate and I could tell it was cut and pasted as the font was different from the rest of the email.
Recently the Library installed iPads in children’s departments across the city. This service provides access and opportunities for children and families to engage with quality digital resources that have been vetted and selected by trained Library staff. Many families across the city do not have regular access to technology and high-quality digital resources. By providing this access in our libraries we are helping to mitigate the impact of the digital divide so that all children have the same opportunities for informal and formal learning. As children grow up with devices, such as iPads, and as a result read and learn using these tools as a part of their daily lives, it’s important to assist them, and their parents and caregivers, in using these tools in meaningful ways and that includes playing games which support learning and literacy and reading books and other materials on the screen.
Thank you again for your feedback and we hope that you and your child will continue to visit and use the library and are able to use the resources that are most beneficial to your family.
Linda W. Braun
Youth and Family Learning Services Manager
I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority here, and I know it is swimming against the tide to oppose technology of any kind. I guess I just romantically think of libraries as places for books and reading. What do you think?