Playaways in the Library: A Story in Your Pocket
- Cuz they don’t melt in the car (the audiobooks that we carry are all on CDs, and especially in Texas heat, if they’re left in the car they can tend to warp)
- I don’t have to share with anyone (Playaways are self contained audiobooks that use headphones, so one person can listen at a time if you choose. If you want more than one, you can use an audio cord to plug it into a radio or your car, or a headphone splitter to use for multiple headphones).
- Don’t need iTunes to listen to it (a lot of my kids and teens do not have CD players save on their computers, just a variety of MP3 players, so in order to listen to the audiobooks they were having to download them onto their devices)
- It plays in order (when they did download the audiobooks onto their devices, they were having trouble with the chapters staying in order)
- I can slip it into my pocket and no one knows I’m doing homework (the Playaways are about the size of my iPod touch, and much smaller than my cell, so they can put them in a backpack or pocket and just have the headphones or earbuds out and pretend to listen to music instead of actually doing homework)
- It helps with my English (I recently did a display where I paired up the Playaways we had with the physical books, thinking that the kids would want to read along with the audio version. Turns out that it wasn’t the kids who were checking them out the most from that display, it was our ESL adult who were trying to improve their reading and comprehension skills- by listening and reading along, they could pair up the words and practice, and since they were young adult books, they could talk along with their teens and share the experience)
- Easy to work (the buttons are really easy for smaller fingers to use, and the cases that we have contain the instructions to use as well, so even the youngest kids can listen to the picture book ones that we purchased)
- It’s a storytime when you’re not in the library
Do you have Playways in your library? What has been your experience? Share with us in the comments!
Karen’s Note: I checked out a Playaway from Christie’s library and I have this handy old iPod device that allowed me to listen to the Playaway on my car stereo. You simply plug the device into the earphone jack and put it on the correct radio station. Mine is seriously old, there are newer versions if you look around online. Also, I had Playaways at my old library system and they are popular because a lot of teens no longer have CD players for audio books because, you know, everything is on their phone. Actually, I don’t even own a CD player, though I do have one in my car which is where I listen to my audio books, which I now adore. For me the biggest issue for Playaways versus Books on CD is that I didn’t have to worry about the batteries running out and then I didn’t have to buy my own battery to replace in the unit (most libraries do not provide replacement batteries due to cost).
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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