Technology is changing our world on almost a daily basis. It has changed almost every aspect of our life. From the way we communicate to the way that we spend our spare time mobile devices have literally replaced certain parts of our lives. One of the biggest leaps that we have made is replacing traditional books with e-books. Before the invention of the internet people would actually have to go to a library to do their research. Now with access to journals, research papers, and news articles the library has become all but obsolete. One Library in Wisconsin is doing something to keep up with the times.
The L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin has begun to lend iPads. The 32 first generation iPads will be lent out for a week at a time to cardholders in “good standing.” As if that wasn’t enough they have six more dedicated to homebound cardholders for periods of 28 days at a time and another six for use inside of the library.
The tablets come preloaded with over 1,000 e-books plus assorted audio books and apps. Included are classics like “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sherlock Holmes.” This ingenious idea has the potential to introduce these classics to a new generation of readers.
Mark Troendle, assistant director of the L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, said that this is a way to keep the library current. Troendle went on to say that “We wanted to provide another avenue to access content, especially for people who couldn’t afford the technology themselves.” This great new service was made possible by a grant from the Presto Foundation.
The iPads aren’t locked which theoretically allows users to download whatever they want during the duration of their rental. Though borrowers have this option the iPads are wiped as soon as they are returned. Users can also check out kindle e-books from the library and give feedback to the library about useful apps that should be added to the devices permanently.
Some may think that loaning out such an expensive device is risky for the library, but they have some hefty penalties in place as a failsafe. The overdue fee alone is $10 per day. After the device is ten days overdue there is not even a point in returning it because the library will charge the full price of the device plus its accessories which comes to a whopping $1,000.
In an era when libraries are becoming obsolete this Wisconsin library is definitely taking steps to stay relevant. It is yet to be seen whether this is a last ditch effort or a way to revitalize a dying public service. It will be interesting to see if more libraries follow the L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library’s lead. One thing is for sure, as technology improves and our culture changes if libraries don’t do something to stay current they will surely go the way of the dinosaurs.