A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

New Product News January/February 2015

by Heather Teysko and Tanya Novak on February 28, 2015


Long Beach (CA) Public Library has alerted us to a new product for libraries, EyePlay, which parents may have seen in Target, Burger King, Ikea, or some other commercial venue. EyePlay is an interactive media display that can be projected on a floor or wall.

EyePlay uses MotionAware technology, which reacts when human movement is detected. The system “comes to life” and reacts when children’s movements and gestures are detected to activate animations, trigger sounds, and play games. The technology is stunning; there is a program that lets you walk through leaves that reminds me of the PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit app.

There are numerous educational games, such as coloring games where you jump around to color in the picture; a math game where you match an equation with the correct answers; a number of musical games that let you create your own melody; a recycling game that lets you sort and recycle everyday objects; and action-oriented games like a ball pit, soccer, hockey, and football that kids can explore and play on their own or with others.

Each system holds ten games. The games are completely programmable letting you create playlists to set the order of the games as well as how long each game plays for. You can also program the system to automatically turn on and off at designated times.

The floor model can display on an area from 5 x 7 feet to 10 x 14 feet, and the wall model can display on an area from 4.5 x 3.5 feet to 9 x 6 feet.

Libraries have the option to purchase or lease the product. If purchasing, you get the equipment and ten games of your choice, plus EyePlay will install the equipment and provide training. Service and maintenance are included for one year under the warranty period, and you have the option to purchase additional games.

The lease option includes ten games, maintenance, 24/7 service, and training with installation as well as ten new games each quarter.

The system will have only ten games at any given time. When a new rotation of games is available you can keep the most popular games, or the ones you like and switch out the unpopular ones.


Staying current with technology, brushing up on skills, and learning new ones is something we all need to do today. lynda.com is an online learning company that has been fulfilling that need since 1995. The company offers video tutorials for personal and professional development from industry experts on business, technical, and creative skills.

They have launched an unlimited off-site patron access solution for libraries called lyndaLibrary, which provides library patrons with unlimited access to lynda.com’s collection of over 3,000 courses and 150,000 video tutorials. The subjects covered are 3-D + animation, audio + music, business, CAD, design, developer, education, IT, marketing, photography, video, web, and software.

While there are plenty of free online videos, lyndaLibrary courses are all taught by expert instructors. There are courses for all skill levels, including appropriate for all, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. And lynda.com provides downloadable exercise files so you can practice what you are learning.

The site is easily searchable and lets you browse or use a keyword search and then offers a variety of filters to narrow down your results. You can create playlists of courses you want to watch, and even bookmark specific segments within a course. It allows you to see which courses you’ve completed or started and you can easily pick up where you left off. There is
also closed captioning for some courses and transcripts for all the courses. The transcripts are searchable as well, and they provide certificates of completion.

In every course there is always a “take a tour” button, which highlights how to control the screen, use the transcript feature, retake a course (or sections of a course once you’ve completed it), search within a course, and exercise files are pointed out if the course offers them. Every course provides an outline showing how the course is broken down. There is always an introduction where the speaker explains what the course will cover. Then each segment of the course is indicated along with the time of that segment. An icon automatically appears once you’ve completed the segment so you can see your progress, and you can bookmark a segment, so you can easily find that piece of information again. They are also beta testing a note-taking feature that saves your notes in the course by the segment and indicates the time in the segment when you wrote the note.

Libraries have the option to purchase buy-ins with different concurrent license models depending upon their service population. lyndaLibrary integrates with the library’s Integrated Library System (ILS) and authenticates users through the library’s Patron API. It’s cloud-based and works on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Reports summarize usage details and total
videos and courses viewed.


A product that we’ve just heard about at Califa is Beanstack from Zoobean, Inc. The service provides free personalized recommendations of children’s books and apps selected by librarians. Zoobean is a children’s curation company with a database of more than 1,600 tags unique to children’s media to help patrons find the right books and apps.

Starting in early 2015, Sacramento (CA) County Libraries will be a subscriber, and their patrons will be able to sign up for a free Beanstack account from their mobile devices, at home, or in any of the library’s twenty-eight locations. Parents can indicate their children’s age from birth to eight, as well as interests, reading level, and background. Each week, a book in the library’s collection will be suggested specifically for that child. Recommendations are sent via email and are also available through a mobile profile that families can access at any time. Each is accompanied by a learning guide with helpful tips, background information, and activities.

Beanstack is managed by the tech company Zoobean. The company first launched a “book of the month” club that sends each child a different book based on their specific interests and
background. The service combines the expertise of human “curators,” who are themselves librarians and educators, with data science. As it has improved, the company has pursued other applications of its technology and content.

“We have heard from many families who would prefer to only receive our recommendations and learning guides without a book in the mail,” said Zoobean’s Chief Dad and President Felix Brandon Lloyd. “Partnering with libraries will help us provide a more personal and expert service that is accessible for all children. And that’s always been what we’re about.”

In addition to Sacramento, Zoobean currently has plans to launch Beanstack with libraries in Virginia, Texas, and New Mexico. Libraries licensing the service will gain access to Zoobean’s database of children’s books, apps, learning guides, and personalized recommendation system. Zoobean uses its proprietary search engine and actual curators to help libraries build literacy and promote books in their collections. Their service, Beanstack, utilizes the perspectives of librarians and educators to make personalized recommendations based on each child’s age, interests, and reading level. Headquartered in Arlington (VA), Zoobean also offers both web-based and home-delivery subscriptions through which families can receive book and app selections accompanied by digital guides to facilitate deeper engagement with each book or app.


In the world of discovery, another great tool to consider is Bookbrowse, which has subscriptions for libraries that include readers’ advisory resources and newsletters with links back to the library’s catalog. Subscriptions include read-alike suggestions for thousands of authors and books, both fiction and nonfiction. Patrons may browse for recommended books by genre, time period, geographical setting, award winners, and a wide range of themes that can be cross-referenced (i.e., setting+time, period+theme). Articles and “beyond the book” features explore each featured book in more depth. Books have excerpts so readers can decide which books are right for them, and there are previews of notable books coming soon including an early preview edition for libraries.

Library subscriptions include the remote and onsite access, plus branding and customization for the library, including links back to the catalog. Free support for librarians and patrons, free posters and other marketing materials, and full usage stats are also included. Free trials are available.