Libraries Survive the Digital Revolution through Kindle, iPad

Back in college, I had some professors who didn’t like students to use the Web for research.  They would require us to go to the library and checkout tons of thick and heavy books on which to base our research.   At that time, I wished there was a way to make books lighter.

And now there is, through tablets and e-books.  Before these devices were for personal use but now, public libraries are seeing the potential in having these devices around.  Libraries are now investing in tablets and e-readers.  Some already purchased a few of these devices for their staff to use so they can make recommendations on how the technology can be used in their system.

Yesterday, Amazon announced that Kindle books are now available from 11,000 public libraries across the US, though Amazon wasn’t clear which libraries offer the Kindle but we do know of one: the Boston Public Library is one of those libraries offering the Kindle.

Most libraries are contented with having e-readers or tablets available for checkout or use but some libraries are taking it to another level by making iPads available for checkout.

The Eau Claire Wisconsin library lets users checkout iPads for a few hours for use inside the library, and some can be checked out for a week.  The library has a total of 44 iPads available for checkout and each unit has 1,000 e-books, 10 audiobooks, apps and Website links.

“The goal of the iPads program is to first introduce our customers to a new technology they haven’t used,” library director John Stoneberg told TV station WEAU. “Since we are the first public library, if not the first library in the United States to lend out iPads, it’s been a challenge but it’s been exciting.”

The Marathon County Library System is preparing to lend out a variety of e-readers and tablets to the public either later this year or early next year with six brands to choose from: Barnes & Noble Nook, Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, Blackberry Playbook, Asus Transformer and Samsung Galaxy.  The budget for these devices came from the a $9,000 grant from The Library Foundation.

“In an economy that we currently face, not everybody can afford an iPad,” said Marathon County Public Library Director Ralph Illick. “For those who cannot, we want to be able to bridge that gap. And that’s what libraries always do.”

As the Wauwatosa School District put iPads in the hands of a number of middle and high school students, Wauwatosa Public Library Director Mary Murphy is seeing the potential of having iPads, tablets and e-readers available for library patrons.  Alderwoman Kathleen Causier, who sits on the Library Board, also sees the need to transition to the electronic age with e-books and tablets but probably not an iPad.  According to Causier, “Losing a printed book is one thing, but a lost iPad or a cracked screen could be costly.”

Lending these devices can cause a huge headache as some users don’t care much for them and a lot of time, you really can’t avoid accidents.  M-Edge Accessories, the market-leading designer of accessories for devices like iPad, Kindle and Nook, recently announced the formation of their Education Team which will work with school superintendents, teachers, and librarians to increase the longevity of e-readers and tablets introduced into schools and libraries by offering the best protective accessories available at discounted prices for educational institutions.