SACRAMENTO, CA -- Oct. 23, 2014. Sacramento Public Library announced today that it will be the first public library to launch Beanstack, a new service that provides free personalized recommendations of children's books and apps selected by its librarians. The service is powered by children's curation company Zoobean and gives the library access to a database using over 1,600 tags unique to children's media to help patrons find the right books and educational apps.
Starting in early 2015, residents of Sacramento County will be able to sign up for a free Beanstack account from their mobile devices, at home, or in any of the library's 28 locations. Parents can indicate their children's age from birth to 8, 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 via a mobile profile that families can access at anytime. Each is accompanied by a learning guide with helpful tips, background information, and activities.
"Beanstack is a natural complement to the work we are doing in support of our city's campaign for grade level reading initiative and our commitment to be at the forefront of innovation," says library director Rivkah Sass. "What most excites me is that this service will give us another tool by which to reach local families who may otherwise not have a relationship with our library."
Beanstack is managed by the tech company Zoobean, Inc. 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," says 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 Public Library, 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 and apps, learning guides, and personalized recommendation system.
"When I think of Beanstack, it's like the reference book A to Zoo meets Pandora for today's library and family," says Sass, who was named Library Journal's Librarian of the Year in 2006. "I haven't been this excited about an online service in a very long time."
Sacramento Public Library is an award-winning system with 28 locations that serve more than 650,000 cardholders living in California's fourth most populous metropolitan area. The library offers millions of books, eBooks and other media. It also offers services ranging from book printing to a program that allows adults to earn a high school diploma.
Zoobean (www.zoobean.com) 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, Virginia, 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.