The Camden Public Library will be the first system in the state of Maine to provide Beanstack to families in the local community. Beanstack is an online portal that offers free personalized recommendations of children’s books and apps handpicked by the library staff. It is an innovative new way to connect children and their families with books and educational apps that match each child’s specific age, interests, reading level, and background. The service is powered by children’s curation company Zoobean, and gives the library access to a database of books using over 1,600 unique tags to help library users find the right books and apps.
Starting this week, Camden Public Library members can sign up and use Beanstack from their home computer, mobile device, or in the library. Every week, a book in the library’s collection will be suggested specifically for a child based on that child’s preferences, interests, and reading level. Recommendations are sent by email and are also available via an online profile that families can access anytime. In addition, each book recommendation is accompanied by a learning guide containing helpful tips, background information, and activities to encourage engagement and critical thinking.
“We are proud to be the first library in Maine to have this service, and to offer it to Midcoast residents,” says library director Nikki Maounis. “We are fully committed to expanding literacy skills in our community and Beanstack is an exciting and easy to use resource. It’s just another piece of the puzzle of our mission to Read, Connect, and Discover.”
Beanstack is offered and managed by Zoobean, Inc., which uses a proprietary search engine combining the expertise of human curators, who are themselves librarians and educators, with data science to provide personalized recommendations to every child. “We started Zoobean to help kids find books that excite and appeal to them, and to make reading more fun,” says Felix Brandon Lloyd, who co-founded the company with his wife Jordan Lloyd Bookey, and who serves as Chief Dad and President. “Connecting with libraries is a great way to do that. Personalized, weekly recommendations help families find great books that are available at their local library to keep them reading and learning.”
To date, Zoobean has agreed to launch Beanstack with over 25 library systems in the United States, including systems in California, Texas, Colorado, Virginia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Maryland, and Michigan. Libraries licensing the service will gain access to Zoobean’s database of children’s books and apps, learning guides, and personalized recommendation system.