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HomeworkNYC Apps

New York City's Public Libraries (Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Public Library, and Queens Library)
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Innovation Leader: Shauntee Burns, Outreach Specialist for HomeworkNYC, sburns@nypl.org

Problem Statement

Libraries traditionally have a static webpage with a list of collections and resources for students to access for homework help. Research showed that students are interested in receiving support in homework but that the support needs to come from a trusted source and needs to be easily accessible from the spaces teens already inhabit online – Facebook and Myspace, for example. They also had a tendency to rely on a simple Google search rather than go through a Library website to find information.

Innovation

HomeworkNYC Apps, an IMLS grant-funded project, takes the library and homework help into the 21st century! Instead of relying on a destination webpage, HomeworkNYC Apps are going where the students are, specifically to social networking sites. These apps can be found on Facebook, iGoogle, and Myspace. The apps provide access to electronic resources and online reference services (SearchIT app), live homework assistance (Dial-a-Teacher app), library events (AttendIT app) and more. Young adults expect to have content delivered to them and are able to repackage it and push it out, into their own social sphere – which they can do with the ListIT app. HomeworkNYC Apps shows libraries how to design homework help that is deliverable rather than destination based.

Progress

Students have been involved in the project from the very start. During the research phase teens provided librarians with information about their homework needs and practices and made suggestions about how libraries could better support them. As the apps were developed, teens gave feedback on what worked and what didn’t. This helped guarantee that the apps developed supported students as they work on homework assignments and look for leisure information and materials. In addition, a constant flow of teen feedback has ensured the flexibility to adjust to the rapidly changing use of technology in their lives. Next up- HomeworkNYC Apps go mobile!