The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri

Outreach Program Makes E-readers Accessible for Kids; Funding and Business Information Center Open House July 22 at Library Center

 Aaron is headed to fifth grade in the fall. So is Damien. Bailey is going to middle school. One day soon, maybe in high school but certainly in college, they will be expected to have a high level of “digital literacy” on the use of iPads, e-readers and the next generation of those devices.

Problem is, Aaron, Damien and Bailey don't have e-reader devices at home. Many preteens and teens across Greene County have never been exposed to the technology that someday could affect their skills, confidence, even success in the classroom.

This summer, Aaron, Damien, Bailey and more than 100 others at three Springfield Boys & Girls Clubs are getting that critical hands-on experience with six different e-reader devices. Through a Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant, the Library’s outreach staff bought the devices and downloaded each with 24 different books that preteens and teens love. In a series of six sessions at the clubs, staff help demystify the technology. The kids get to experiment with the software on the devices, get comfortable with them and maybe get hooked on a good book. (Print copies are also available for checkout at the clubs if a student doesn’t finish the e-book version and wants to finish the book at home.)

“Awesome” is how Ashley describes them. Bailey looks forward to a future when all the textbooks are downloaded on one, lightweight device. The kids also debated the value of new book formats and “bookless libraries.”

The program doesn’t end with summer. Outreach Manager Allison Eckhart plans to continue using the devices with others in hopes of narrowing that digital divide.

“We want them to become familiar with the new technology they’ll be expected to know,” Allison said. “We want them to be able – at some point when they come across any type of device – to have some experience and confidence; to raise their hand in class and say, ‘Yes, I know how to do that.’”
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A reminder especially for business owners, entrepreneurs and nonprofits: See the upgrades we’ve made in the Funding and Business Information Center at the Library Center. An open house is 3-6 p.m. Monday, July 22, with refreshments and door prizes (age 21 and older).

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