Champion Public Library has stepped up their game.
The library added tablets loaded with educational games and audiobook packs to its shelves this summer. The Dallas-based Playaway company produces the devices. Youth Services Coordinator Stephanie Way said while the devices are aimed at children, they cover so many topics that they can be useful to just about anyone.
“It’s ideal for the kid who’s already mastered the skill, the kid trying to master the skill, it’s ideal for adults who are trying to get their GED and might need to go back and learn some math,” Way said.
The launchpads are pre-loaded tablets that have games and activities covering specific subjects for different grade levels. Math, science, reading and more specific topics like scratch coding are all covered, and one even teaches the coding language Python, which is considered difficult to learn by adult standards. The tablets come in a durable, decidedly child-friendly orange case.  
Way said the lessons gel with common core curriculums used by most public schools.
“Basically, they’re games that help them learn what they’re already learning in school, but in a fun way,” Way said.
The devices don’t require WiFi to work, an important consideration for rural areas that might have limited WiFi access.
“Kids can’t surf the internet, so it’s safe, and they can’t download anything to them,” Way said.
The audio devices are simple MP3 players loaded with an audiobook that comes with a matching physical copy. Way said reluctant readers or children who struggle with reading are good candidates for the audiobooks, and English language learners of all ages can use them.
“They can hear the book and follow along as they listen to it, which will help them with their word recognition and stuff like that,” Way said. “It’s like reading to a child. Dyslexic children learn really well when they read like this.”
The MP3 players are currently loaded with “I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg,” a children’s historical fiction book.
The library introduced the devices in August, but events like the summer reading program took priority over the new technology.
“We purchased a few of them to see how popular they were in the library and to see if there was a need for them in the community,” Way said.
Way said now that school is back in session, the devices are more widely circulated.
“We’re just trying to keep track of the feedback,” Way said. “So far, it’s all been positive. We’ve had a lot of repeat checkouts.”
The devices are located in Ardmore, but anyone can request them at their local branch or on the SOLS website. The devices can be checked out for one week at a time. Patrons will be charged $1 per day if the items are overdue.