When four children’s computers at the Monroe Library became out of date and started breaking down, the librarians decided not to replace them with desktop computers.
Instead, kids have access to four iPads in shock-proof cases, and librarians say the interactive tablets are an improvement, but that people don’t seem to be aware that they are available.
That has left some parents feeling bereft; several commented on Facebook that they felt their children had lost access to a valuable commodity when the computers were removed about a month ago.
But the computers were out of date, said children’s librarian Shannon Dye.
“The games were no longer supported,” she said. “We would not have replaced them with the same kind we had. The option was to have iPads, and we thought that there was something not everyone has access to.”
The iPads have preloaded apps, mostly suitable for kindergarten age children.
One app, a modern version of the “A is for Apple” type books of an earlier generation, produces words that begin with each letter, as well as video of the word, word sounds and interactive graphics.
There are also games with fairly sophisticated graphics, such as one involving fireflies that teaches children to sort by color.
And in an update of the pop-up books of yore, the iPad version of a book about animals includes animals that bounce, fly, oink, moo, dance and sing. Every part of the “page” is interactive; touch the sun and the sky goes dark and the moon comes out.
For older students, there is a program on dinosaurs with hyper-realistic images of dinosaurs in their natural habitat, be it dappled forests or open tundra, along with highly detailed information about them.
To use the computers, a parent must go to the library counter and check them out. They must stay in the library.
The opportunity is, in fact, almost unique to Monroe. The iPad program was a pilot project of Sno-Isle Libraries.
“We did pilot this service in Monroe, and Shannon was instrumental in serving on the committee to select the apps, and we tried it out to see how it worked,” said managing librarian Betsy Lewis.