Closing the app gap: From plan to project i

Kate McDowell, Deborah Stevenson, Cass Mabbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our Closing the App Gap research project, examines the use of tablets, apps, and e-books in public libraries as a tool against summer reading loss in primary-grades children in underserved communities. Children in low-income families are less likely to meet important reading milestones, and they are particularly likely to suffer from summer reading loss, the setback of skills over the long summer vacation. As we already know, this loss can be addressed by summer reading programs in public libraries. Additionally, as digital media grows in importance, the resource disparity between affluent families and lowerincome families becomes even more pronounced, with a digital divide effect that shapes the experience of emergent readers. One 2011 study indicated that 55% of children eight and younger from families earning $75k or more per year have access to a smartphone, iPod/phone, or tablet, while in families earning $30,000 or less, only 22% of children have similar access. With apps a growing part of the educational landscape, increased access is advantageous. This approach brings new tools in the fight against summer reading loss, enhances technological literacy, and mitigates the effect of the digital divide on children in lower-income families. Our poster will discuss the various aspects of our research, including: our greatest challenges, the creation of a model that can help other public libraries use apps and tablets with children, our proposed multi-site project that builds on what we've learned, and the potential ramifications of closing the digital divide and improving literacy for every child.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Apps
  • Ebooks
  • Social informatics
  • Tablets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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