Johnson County libraries have deep resources to help all ages as technology spreads

Kinsley Riggs, manager of the Johnson County Library Antioch branch, where iPad  help is available along with deep online resources.
Kinsley Riggs, manager of the Johnson County Library Antioch branch, where iPad help is available along with deep online resources.

As thousands of Shawnee Mission school students are getting new iPads or MacBooks, they can turn to the Johnson County Library for a help not only on how to use the new technology but how to tap into a deep resource of online material that can help them in class.

And it’s not just students who can use that resource: it’s there for anyone with a library card and a pin number. Library staff can help with a variety of technology, said Kinsley Riggs, the manager of the Antioch library branch. While the Apple platform is prevalent now in the schools, and each library has an iPad available, the library can help with different devices. “We have seen someone come in with a Kindle (still) in the box.” Kindles, Nooks, iPads – people come to the library wanting help just setting it up and help in loading ebooks or other materials they can get from the library.

Riggs said Shawnee Mission teachers began to come in when they received the iPads, not to get them set up, but to find out how to get ebooks and other online materials. The library’s eLibrary site offers more than just the ebooks, magazines and audio books. Students can get live chat homework help on virtually any subject through Tutor.com; Mango languages offers complete courses in foreign language; Treehouse will teach you web development or computer programming – all available for free and from home.

“Part of the library’s mission is literacy and technology is part of it (literacy),” says the library’s Daniel Molina. More people now come to the library as a place to use the computers and get online, but requests are also growing for help with tablets.

For students, the library can take their research beyond just the Google search, Riggs said. Databases full of scholarly journals are available online now. And if they need homework coaching in person, that is offered at the central library. The libraries wireless connections enhance the benefit of the laptops and iPads from the schools – helping level the playing field even more, Riggs said, for those who might not be able to afford computers or online access.

Even families who want to get the reading habit started early, Tumblebooks – online picture books -reads the children’s books aloud and does not require a card or software.

Each year the schools let the library know what is going to be on reading lists so they can be aware of what might be requested. Working with the schools, Riggs said, is “a fit – a natural partner.”