old skool logoWhat It Is

Some of you may be very familiar with iPads, how they work and what they can do. Some of you may have received one for Christmas from a well meaning child, with a brief tutorial on how to use it but left basically adrift in the world of this new technology. Some of you may have never downloaded an “app” (short for application) before and don’t know what all the fuss over these Angry Birds is.

Here’s where we show that libraries are about more than just books. The iPhone, released just five years ago, changed the way people read, search for and obtain information, interact with technology and interact with the world. It’s easy to use, intuitive, portable and adaptable to any situation. The iPad, released two years ago, upped the ante as the bigger, sexier, more powerful cousin of the iPhone – but it can do a whole lot more. Touching a screen is so ubiquitous now. Let us help you get the most out of it!

Reading on the iPad is a given for library patrons that have one. No doubt patrons have been asking for help downloading e-books to their iPads, iPhones and other e-readers. This tutorial will walk you through downloading an e-book using the Southern Adirondack Library On Demand service in conjunction with Overdrive, so that you can feel comfortable teaching patrons how to do it. It will also discuss sources of free e-books. Reading, though, is just one of the many things you can do on this device. You will become familiar with the many other possibilities that the iPad holds. There are applications available for the device that make it a great ally to library work. This module will get you up close and personal with the device!

How It Works

We are assuming you have played around with the iPad and get the gist of its basic functions. The App Store, Photos and the Safari web browser installed on the device are what we will be focusing on in this module. This short video will orient you with searching the App Store if you need a refresher.

People want to read books anywhere and everywhere and putting library books into their hands has never been easier. The first detail to note is is that e-books are created in different file formats and not all e-readers support all file formats. iPads can read Adobe EPUB, Open EPUB or PDF books or documents. iBooks is the reading application that comes installed on the iPad and it’s linked to the Apple Store where customers can purchase books quickly and easily. Other readers are available for free or for a price, including a new Kindle app for iPad offered by Amazon.

Free books require a bit of effort to come by and we will discuss two methods here. First, you can download books that are in the public domain or whose copyright has expired and are available for anyone to download. Project Gutenberg is the most well known of these free distributors, with over 38,000 titles of many ancient and classic texts available. Titles can be accessed on the web, downloaded into iTunes, transferred onto the iPad, and opened in iBooks. You can bypass the web and iTunes with an app called Free Books available in the App Store, which offers 23,000 classics for free downloading. Browsing is easy and the reading interface is pleasant to use.

What if somebody wants to read something other than Dickensian literature or Aristotle’s philosophy, you ask? That’s where Overdrive Media Console come in, which enables patrons to check out materials from your digital collection. Watch this tutorial from the West Vancouver Library about how Overdrive works with the iPad.

To summarize: A patron must have a valid library account, an Adobe username (free to create) and the Overdrive app installed on their iPad. Books which are downloaded through this service can only be read in the Overdrive app.


Now it’s time for you to be left to your own devices. The first activity we will guide you through is downloading an e-book, pretending you are a patron.

  1. Begin by downloading the Overdrive application onto your iPad and adding Crandall Public Library as shown in the video above.
  2. In the app, click on “Get Books” to browse the Crandall e-media selection.
  3. Browse or search for a book of your choice and put it in your cart.
  4. Check out your book and download it to the iPad.
  5. Click around within the book. Notice the table of contents and the title page. Adjust the brightness and the font size. Get a feel for turning pages and navigating within the book.
  6. When finished, delete the app so the next user can download it.  Touch the app and hold your finger down until it starts to wiggle.  Hit its ‘x’ to delete it and then hit the home button to stop the wiggling.

Now that you’ve downloaded a book, let’s put that mobile technology to work with images by making a photo album:

  1. Take photos of your partner or the library’s interior or exterior using the built in camera app.
  2. If your iPad does not have a built in camera, you can still capture images directly off the screen.  A screenshot can be taken at any time while using the iPad, no matter what application your are using.  Select a colorful app or browse to your favorite website and take a screenshot by holding down the power button on the iPad’s top right corner and clicking on the “home” button at the bottom of the device at the same time.  The screen will make a camera “flash” and a shutter clicking sound, and your screenshot will be saved in the iPad’s photo gallery.
  3. Open the Photo app and find your photos and/or screenshots. When viewing them as a tiled group, click the small square-with-arrow icon in the top right.  This gives you some options.
  4. Tap on a few photos to select them and you will see checkmarks appear on them.
  5. Tap on “Add To…”to create and name a new album.
  6. Now you have the photos in an album that you can download,  print, send to Facebook, or email to someone wirelessly or while tethered to iTunes.


Now that you’ve walked in the shoes of your patrons, tell us about your experience. Do you like the Overdrive app? Did you find it easy to use and intuitive? What about actually reading the book – do you like the way the pages turn? Do you like the font size and style? Any other insights about e-book reading?  How might you use the iPad’s camera or screenshot capabilities in your work?  If you wish, you can share your photographs and screenshots in your reflection blog posting too.


Once you understand the basics of the iPad, the sky is the limit when it comes to fun, useful, or educational applications.  Here is just a short list of ideas with links to free apps you can download right now:

    • A clear advantage of the iPad lies in roaming reference. A staff member can look up a book in the catalog from the stacks using the device’s Safari web browser, look up an email instead of printing it out and carrying it around, or search for information for a patron on the spot.
    • The iPad makes a great notepad, using the pre-loaded Notes app or any of a multitude of productivity and drawing apps.
    • Why not use it during children’s storytime to read free books from the International Children’s Digital Library? Even better, read an interactive book specifically designed for the iPad! Children can touch the screen to interact with the words and characters. Perhaps it will foster a love of reading from an early age. These books aren’t always free, but the return on investment is worth it.  Check out digital storytimes in the news here, here and here.
    • Use your iPad to teach a class on mobile devices for adults. While many people are not familiar with devices, they do want to learn and be engaged.
    • Teach other classes too. Any question you can come up with, there is probably a video tutorial for it on YouTube, Vimeo or other video hosting sites. These sites are full of educational and how-to material. Why not find a video for a patron who is in the stacks searching for information about home repair? Or use a language app to help with pronunciation?
    • iTunesU is a clearinghouse for 500,000 free educational videos, lectures, and textbooks created by hundreds of universities, schools and other cultural institutions.  Watch an inspirational TED talk, view a Stanford computer science lecture, or read a lecture about DNA, all while sitting on the sofa.
    • Make it into a workstation for kids (or adults who like to play). Load it with age appropriate games and tools and lock it in place using a special case (Google terms like “kiosk”, “retail” and “locked” or “locking” in conjunction with “iPad”).
    • Use it as a marketing display – upload a Powerpoint presentation using the free app SlideShark, showcase photos from programs in a slideshow, create digital signage to promote the day’s programs, or show off children’s art they created using a doodle or sketch app.
    • Update Crandall’s Facebook or Twitter status on the go at the very moment you think of something clever to say!

Now that you are familiar with the iPad, don’t forget to comment on your colleague’s blogs using it! You can navigate to their pages using the Safari web browser (bookmark them for easy navigation) and login to WordPress to comment.  How else can you imagine using this device to engage with patrons and work more effectively?  Let us know in your blog post!


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