The denizens of the green dells of Wisconsin are a bit happier these days, at least in Eau Claire (French for “City Of Very Nice, Quiet People Who Will Smile At You”). The L.E.Philips Memorial Library is now lending out iPads for weekly stints, allowing the good, country stock of Eau Claire to enjoy Apple’s finest between two Sundays. They are also available for in-library use.
iPads are now available for check out at the library thanks to a generous contribution from the Presto Foundation. Each iPad is Wi-Fi compatible and pre-loaded with at least 1,000 classic e-book titles, 10 audiobooks and dozens of free apps and shortcuts to websites. The iPads are available for a 7-day loan period or for a 4-hour in-library use and holds may be placed on the iPads that check out for 7 days. iPads for in-library use only are on a first-come first- served basis.
Folks should also note that you should not place your iPad in the outdoor book return or return them at “area grocery stores” or they’ll charge you $25. If an iPad is three days late (uff-da!), you’re going to have to pay full retail for the thing and “no return is possible,” which is pretty hard-core for Eau Claire.
The question, obviously, is what this hopes to achieve. Aside from being an interesting way to sell iPads, the prospect of having a slate computer in the home, especially a home that may not be able to afford an iPad or any other portable device, is fairly compelling. I’m not a big proponent of computers in learning but these iPads are loaded with 1,000 class titles, 10 audiobooks, and some pertinent web shortcuts: a perfect introduction to the world of ebooks, audiobooks, and the educational web and those lessons and tools can be used to encourage kids to read on less expensive or more common ereader devices. With libraries becoming less storehouses of paper and more sources of bit-based information, it makes perfect sense.
A burning question, however: how do they sanitize these things?