by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
Our library has gotten an iPad that you can check out to use in the library. If you’d like an option for using a computer that’s even more comfortable to use than a laptop, consider checking this out and sitting down with it in one of the library’s easy chairs. You can browse the internet the same as on a PC, although it’s all done with a touchscreen instead of a keyboard and mouse.
We have a number of apps installed on the iPad that will appeal to kids and adults. One that I know will be a hit is Minecraft. If you know a child or teenager, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s a sandbox game, which means game play is freeform and determined by the player’s creativity. There isn’t a set storyline or progression of levels. In Minecraft, players build and craft things in a blocky world, much like Legos. If they choose to, players can fight monsters, or they can turn those off and just do things necessary to survival – or they can even turn that requirement off and simply design a world. We don’t have this popular game on the library computers, so I love that we can offer it now on the iPad. Unfortunately, it can’t be connected with others using our wifi the way people do to play together in their homes, so it is a solo operation on our iPad.
Another app for kids and older is Toca Band. Toca Boca games in general are acclaimed for open-ended creativity, as well. Their website says, “We design digital toys not just for kids, but with kids.” My teenagers and some adults I know have had fun playing with Toca Band. To play it, you drag your choice of characters onto a stage, where they play rhythms or notes together like an orchestra. You change the sound of the song by choosing different characters and placing them in different spots on the stage.
For adults, the iPad has a number of news apps. These include Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, CNN, NPR News, and MPR News. One nice feature in the NPR News app is a button at the bottom of the screen that will play the most recent hourly newscast for you at any time. The app also offers quick access to podcasts and programs. With three taps, I could get to the most recent episode of Radiolab or the most recently broadcast episode of Car Talk. Of course, on all of these apps you can also read stories much as you can read the newspaper.
The iPad also offers a TED app. This is an easy way to access videos of the popular, educational TED Talks. For example, neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret presents an eleven-minute speech on how to grow new brain cells in the area of the brain involved in memory and mood, based on current research. (Hint: learning increases neurogenesis, sleep deprivation decreases it.) Career coach Emilie Wapnick gives a presentation on “Why some of us don’t have one true calling,” which addresses people who never really figure out what they want to be when they grow up.
If it seems like many of these apps involve sound, you’re right. I recommend that you also borrow a set of headphones from us while you use the iPad, or bring along your own earbuds. We want you to enjoy the things the iPad can do, but we don’t want to bother other people in the library.
To use the iPad, you will need to have your library card with you and it will need to be up-to-date and not blocked by fines. You will need to stay in the library while you use it and return it to the desk when you’re done. It does have a nice sturdy case on it, so kids can use it as well as adults. If you’re curious to try out a tablet or you’d just like to get away from the bank of computers and curl up on a couch instead, give our iPad a try.