Waiting times have increased due to the tablets’ overwhelming popularity, prompting the library staff to devise a creative solution. Those waiting their turn must read to a staff member before being allowed to use the tablets. This approach has produced remarkable results, with many young students improving their reading skills and gaining newfound confidence.
Gaming sessions are limited to Fridays, Saturdays and school holidays. To secure a slot, children are encouraged to borrow books, read them and then provide a brief review to the librarians, either written or spoken.
Simple, but brilliant! It's a win-win as the kids get something they'll enjoy, and at the same time their literacy skills improve. These literacy skills are what will make a massive difference to their school learning, as well as their ability to get jobs one day. Gaming itself will undoubtedly also teach them skills, but literacy trumps all. As an added bonus, they also learn that effort equals reward.
The rollout of this initiative began the previous year with the distribution of 66 tablets to 13 libraries. In 2023, the endeavour has expanded further, with 99 tablets allocated to 19 libraries, and this momentum is expected to persist throughout the year. I hope that more such tablets can be rolled out to additional libraries.
Librarians are not just people who sit behind a counter and stamp books out or charge fines for overdue books. I've always found them very helpful (taking you top something instead of just pointing in the distance), and what they do, is more than just about books. Libraries often have computer and Internet facilities, meeting spaces, and more. Many communities really underestimate the importance of libraries, especially to younger children who have a thirst for knowledge. One of the most precious gifts a child can get, is good reading and literacy skills. There is so much knowledge (and entertainment) that is available free of cost at libraries. Reading can inform, relax, motivate, and entertain.
See City libraries use technology to draw young patrons to the bookshelves
Cape Town's public libraries that use technology to engage young readers have so far yielded significant results. The facilities are witnessing an influx of children and adolescents eager to partake in tech-oriented activities.