From Boardbook to Facebook

If you have not yet checked out Adele Fasick’s new book on library services to youth and social media, it is well worth a look:

Fasick, Adele M. From Boardbook to Facebook: Children’s Services in an Interactive Age. Libraries Unlimited, 2011. 157p. Grade: Professional. $35. ISBN 978-1-59884-468-9.

With a catchy title that is sure to draw some interest, Fasick’s new book on children’s library services lives up to that title by offering ideas for blending traditional library services with new technological innovations such as ebooks, ipads, electronic media, online resources, and the growing revolution libraries are facing at this time due to these changes.

The book begins with an overview of the services most public libraries offer, along with how we put up barriers to new technology. For example, some libraries put more restrictive limits on the amount of time a child can use a computer compared with an adult, or value only the reading of paper books, and not reading done online. She also discusses the changes in the lives of children (broken down by age groups), from children in daycare who cannot attend storytimes, to the ever-present cell phone for a teen.

The next section examines how libraries can adapt to these changes, and use technology to do so. Literacy is still a big issue for many children, and we can use online services to facilitate literacy, both traditional reading and visual literacy, to help children identify accurate online resources for information.

A key chapter discusses how physical libraries need to adapt to allow for the inclusion of more technological resources, as well as making the library’s online presence a fundamental aspect of the library – as if the library’s website is another branch or another room of a library. It can be a major way to offer services (such as having ebooks to download), and as a major marketing tool. If your library is undergoing renovation, this chapter should be a key component in your planning. But even libraries that are not due for an upgrade can adapt many of these ideas with relatively little cost. Fasick’s clear description of the “blended” library, offering both books, electronic resources in the building and to online patrons, and a physical space for children to study and interact is an essential part of this book.

The last two chapters focus on how we as children’s librarians and managers can help make these changes, so we can form a blended library offering traditional services still in demand, along with incorporating technology into these services. For example, offering an online storytime for those who cannot get to the library doesn’t replace the “in person” storytime, which is still the best choice, but offers an alternative for those who need it. The whole idea is not books versus technology, but how books and technology can help each other.

This is an essential read for anyone in our profession, and lucky for us Fasick has an inviting, smooth writing style. I enjoyed reading this as much as I do narrative nonfiction – she is clear, to the point, and offers great examples of what she is discussing. Whether you are a youth services librarian who started before we had computers, to those “digital natives” who are newer librarians, this will have something for you. It is wonderful that Fasick is so positive and optimistic – it is clear the “death” of the library is just not true, especially if we are able to lead our communities which are already embracing technological innovations.

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