By Cadi LaCourse, President

Sarah Frick trying out the iPad II at the petting zoo

Sarah Frick trying out the iPad II at the petting zoo
(Photo by Cadi LaCourse).

The University of Maine at Farmington’s (UMF) Mantor Library is now offering an electronic petting zoo, a new program that will allow students and faculty to familiarize themselves with a variety of tablets and e-readers.
This project has developed through the combined efforts of Library Information Services Manager Bryce Cundick, Reference and Technology Assistant Kelly Boivin, and Information Technology Librarian Jennifer Arnott. “We saw more and more students getting tablets and e-readers and asking questions about them,” said Cundick “we wanted the staff to become more knowledgeable about the devices.”
E-books and electronic data-bases are growing rapidly, “We now have more e-books than physical books in our collection,” said Cundick. After examining similar programs in other libraries, the staff at the Mantor Library created the electronic petting zoo as a way to allow students and staff to familiarize themselves with the different devices available.
The equipment available at the petting zoo includes an iPad II, Kindle Fire tablet, Nook tablet, Nook Simple Touch reader, and Kindle Touch reader. All of this equipment was set up by Kelly Boivin, who put a great deal of time and effort into learning about and setting up all of the new devices. “It was a lot of fun to be able to get my hands on all these gadgets and familiarize myself with the features of each of them,” said Boivin, “I really enjoyed the process.”
UMF sophomore Sarah Frick tried out the iPad II on her first visit to the petting zoo. She enjoyed trying out the device and learning about the different features. “It was cool to be able to try it out and see what it can do,” said Frick “It is really nice to be able to try it out and see how it works before you buy one.” The new petting zoo gives students the chance to compare the different products out there before deciding which one would work best for them. “These kinds of devices can be pretty expensive,” said Frick “I would definitely recommend that anyone looking to purchase one of them stop by the petting zoo first and try it out.”
All of these devices are available to UMF students, faculty, and staff during regular library hours. Each device comes with a written guide, but for most, the easiest way to learn will be through hands on use. “For most people it will be a matter of turning it on and playing,” said Boivin.
There are also plans to display all of the devices together at a table in the lobby of the library in the near future. Anyone interested can stop by the library or visit the library website, Follow the Mantor Library on Facebook to keep up to date with what is happening at the library.