The Allen County Public Library soon will offer audio podcasts of three children's books in English and Burmese to help Burmese children who are learning English.
Library board members learned more about the project during their meeting Thursday afternoon at the library system's DiSalle Data Center on DiSalle Boulevard north of Cook Road. A good portion of the meeting focused on technology-related services, in part because the library system's Information Technology and Audio Reading Service departments both are based in the building.
The creation of the book podcasts — pre-recorded digital audio files — grew out of efforts by Hessen Cassel branch Manager Edith Helbert to aid teachers who had asked for assistance with helping Burmese children learning English, said Georgean Johnson-Coffey, manager of the library system's Audio Reading Service.
To create the podcasts, library staff used three children's books the library has in both English and Burmese language versions — "Superhero," "Pone Pone's Garden" and "Ei Si the Duckling," Johnson-Coffey said. Library staff recorded a teacher at Southwick Elementary School, 6500 Wayne Trace, reading the English versions and a Burmese liaison at the school reading the books in Burmese.
The recordings now are being edited and should be available via the library's website, www.acpl.lib.in.us, by the end of August, Johnson-Coffey said. People can check out the books from the library so children can read along as they hear the book read aloud in either Burmese or English as they work toward reading and understanding English.
Johnson-Coffey also told library board members the demand remains strong for the library's Audio Reading Service, where volunteers read local newspapers and publications and national magazines for people who have vision problems. People can listen to the audio on special radios supplied by the library, via podcast, using a software application and on a subchannel of local public television station WFWA, PBS-39.4, she said.
Reading all of the publications, which includes local newspapers' TV listings and advertisements, requires a lot of volunteers, Johnson-Coffey said. People who may be interested in volunteering can contact her by going to the library system's website, www.acpl.lib.in.us, and scrolling down to the lower right corner to click on the link for "Volunteer."
She will call volunteer applicants for an interview, she said. They also must go through a reading audition.
In other business, Tim Corey, IT senior network specialist, highlighted these trends in customer use of library technology:
* Public use of library computers has been declining slowly since 2010, while customer use of Wi-Fi with their own electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, has soared. Wi-Fi use may be starting to plateau, however, which could result from smartphones approaching market saturation and from more phone plan providers offering unlimited data packages, Corey said.
* The updated library mobile device app (application) rolled out early this year has attracted heavy use. The app currently has about 15,860 regular users, but they now account for 48 percent of all renewals of books and other library materials and 40 percent of all holds placed on library items.
Board members also learned Monica Casanova has started work as the library's new public services manager. Casanova will supervise all branch managers and children's specialists and will set up a framework for each branch to provide programming of interest to the community it serves, she said.
Before accepting the ACPL job, Casanova worked as director of the Monticello Public Library in Monticello, about 25 miles north of Lafayette.