Closing the App Gap: From Plan to Project I

Time Frame


Total Funding to Date



  • Kate McDowell

This project allies with IMLS’s support of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading with an exploration of the use of tablet computers, apps, and e-books in public libraries as a tool against summer reading loss. It will engage with experts in scholarship and practice to define the public library’s role in selecting and providing existing digital media for younger children, especially those primary-grades children in low-income communities who are most in need of intervention, whose access to media at home is limited, and for whom summer often means a loss of skills. This plan draws on both the historic involvement of public libraries in literacy through summer reading programs and ongoing support, and their long-term role as providers and facilitators for communities impacted by disparate access to technology. Tablet use is becoming more common in schools and libraries, with compelling apps and e-books engaging young learners with new opportunities, but libraries are still exploring ways to meet the challenges and maximize the benefits of incorporating these technologies into their collections and services.

Closing the App Gap will contribute to a foundational understanding of this aspect of library service by devising and assessing models for the use of apps and tablets with children within the public library setting. The lead institution in this study is the iSchool at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the School will partner with the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library.

Funding Agencies

  • Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2013 – $46,678.00