#CILDC Live Blogging: Early Literacy Programs at Darien Library

I am at the Computers in Libraries conference in Washington, D.C. (#CILDC) These are my notes from session A302, Services for Target Audiences.

Claire Moore, Assistant Head, Children’s Services, Darien Library

About The Library
Darien Library offers an average of 12-15 programs a week, up to 5-6 programs a day during the busy season. When they moved into their new building in 2009, the head of children’s services wanted to make a push to focus on parents and caregivers and providing support to them as well as providing traditional services to children.

Early Literacy Focus
The library decided to focus on the five early literacy skills practices to provide the skills necessary for reading success and helping parents build these skills in their children. The library also decided to educate parents and caregivers in new technology so they could help model literate behavior and habits for their children. They found support in sources such as an International Society for Technology in Education report (2007) that stated “Kids should have basic skills in technology operations and concepts by age of five.”

The librarians mounted an iPad in the First Five Years room. They curated a series of early literacy apps for these children (such as eBook apps to teach the mechanics of how to turn a page). They have six early literacy iPads preloaded with apps for both kids and parents to support literacy.

After a year in the new library space, the librarians decided to start off with a series of programs. (They have found packaging programming in series helps with attendance.) They were aiming to expose both parents and kids to new tech (intro to Twitter, for example), expand the tech services the library provided, and increase the use of new tech among the community’s families by providing tech programs to community members of all ages.

Programs Promoting Digital Literacy
Darien Public Library began the Little Clickers multi-week program, for kids ages 3 to 5 and their caregivers/parents. They start with an intro to computers, using a keyport and the internet, and end with having them explore an iPad. iKids(ages 9-12) focuses on tweens using tech to express creativity. New programs include Techsplorers. After finishing Little Clickers, parents asked for anoter session. This program, for ages 6-8, blends skills they learned in Little Clickers moves into more creation-based projects. This age group of 2nd-3rd graders is often not as involved with sports programs as tweens and teens, so the library saw this as a special opportunity to engage this age group. CoderDojo is an 8-week-long course in coding. App Art was a creation-based program for making artworks. Stop-Motion Project taught kids to make stop-motion animation (usin iMotion App, FingerLab SARL)

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 12.16.04 PM

21 Things for the 21st Century Parent, is a self-directed 8-week program created for parents to explore Web 2.0 technology. Each week, parents receive the tech topic for the week, programs that week they might want to explore, and things they should have done that week. Based on the 23 Things program created by Helene Blowers of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Topics include Faceboook, Twitter, Etsy, e-Readers, and gadgets.

Appy Hours are readers’ advisory format-like events for app selection. This program gives the community an opportunity to engage in conversations. Tweet Ups engage parents becoming more active on Twitter. The library has hosted some tweet ups. One recent one allowed discussion on apps for various ages.


  • Give staff opportunities to test new technology.
  • Offer diverse programming for all ages. (see where there are holes in your programming and try to fill those holes—like those 2nd and 3rd graders mentioned above)
  • Mix staff led programs with guest instructors. (this stretches the budget and engages community leaders. A community who has her own bag company on Etsy comes in during the 21 Things session and teaches about Etsy. They also hosted a program for local bloggers to share about their blogging.)
  • Offer incentives
  • Evaluate the entire program (survey and ask for feedback to inform planning for next time)

How To Implement This At Your Library
Advocate the importance of digital literacy development in children.

Start small. Even if you just offer a few tech programs, you can always grow these programs. Get feedback from kids and parents to see how it’s working.

Research other libraries’ programs. Be open to other librarians asking about your programs. Seek professional input and suggestions.

Experiment. Before Darien started formal iPad programs, she tried using her iPad in her storytimes.


Follow Mia on Twitter: @MiaBreitkopf

See other live-blog notes from #CILDC:

Michael Edson: Collaborating On a Large Scale

Seven Deadly Sins of Websites

Flipped Learning

Rethinking Digital Literacy


One thought on “#CILDC Live Blogging: Early Literacy Programs at Darien Library

  1. Pingback: #CILDC Live Blogging: Michael Edson, Collaboration on A Large Scale | Mia B. Blogs

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