IMLS grant supports Stevenson, McDowell in 'Closing the App Gap'

Kate McDowell
Kate McDowell, Associate Professor

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded GSLIS a $46,678 National Leadership Grant for the project, “Closing the App Gap.” The principal investigator on this planning project is Deborah Stevenson, assistant professor and director of the Center for Children’s Books at GSLIS. Kate McDowell, GSLIS associate professor, will serve as co-PI.

GSLIS and the Douglass Branch of the Champaign (IL) Public Library will work together on a pilot project to investigate the benefits of blending technology with traditional summer reading programs. The program will work with children in early elementary grades and will integrate tablet-based apps and e-books in the Douglass Branch summer reading program, with the goal of improving reading proficiency as well as digital literacy.

“I'm very excited about this opportunity,” said Stevenson. “This is a project that draws on the traditional strengths of youth librarianship and the possibilities of current technology to find new ways to serve children. We hope to bring new tools in the fight against summer reading loss, enhance technological literacy, and mitigate the effect of the digital divide on children in lower-income families.”

“I've been interested in children's literature apps ever since ‘reading’ Harold and the Purple Crayon to my nephew on my iPhone. At one point I asked him if he thought this was a book or a game, and he immediately said 'game.' From that moment on, I've been curious about how children's literature apps play into young people's understandings of story,” said McDowell.

The advisory team for the project includes Denise Agosto, associate professor at Drexel University’s College of Information Science and Technology; Viki Ash, veteran practitioner of youth librarianship, currently coordinator of youth services at the San Antonio Public Library; Sarah Park Dahlen (PhD '09; MS '09), assistant professor at St. Catherine University’s School of Library and Information Science; Michelle Martin, Augusta Baker Chair in Early Childhood Literacy at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science and current GSLIS research fellow; and Jamie Naidoo, assistant professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies.