Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 25, 2012

Library starts iPad rental program

Patrons can borrow a tablet for 2 weeks.

By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer

— Apple can’t make enough iPads to satisfy demand, but the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library now owns 15 iPad2 units.

Thursday, social media-conscious library patrons scrambled to borrow the tablet computers, on the first official day of the library’s iPad lending program.

Library officials announced the program on Twitter Wednesday, and by Thursday morning, on Facebook.

Free of charge, library cardholders 18 years or older — with no unpaid library fines — can borrow an iPad for two weeks.

The message got out quickly. By Thursday morning, all five iPads were gone from the Main Library downtown, and library officials were expecting a similar run on the machines at the other locations.

Library patrons can call the adult reference desk at the Main and South branches, and the front desk at the Russiaville branch to get on the waiting list.

There are a few conditions, the biggest one being that someone wanting to borrow one of the machines will have to come into one of the library locations in person, with a photo ID, and fill out a form.

Rentals are for two weeks, and the late fee will be $5 a day, up to $50.

Library officials can remotely wipe the memory of the machines if they’re not returned, and can lock the machines as well.

Finally, library officials said they’ll contact police to retrieve the device if it isn’t returned in a timely fashion.

“We did the math, and if you take out as many books as you’re allowed, you’re taking out more value than an iPad,” said Lisa Fipps, the library’s marketing director.

The iPads come pre-loaded with dozens of apps, from Twitter and Facebook to iTunes and Mango, a language learning application. The tablets contain the Safari browser, and can be used anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.

Library interim director Peg Harmon said lending tablets is a new trend among libraries, and said Kokomo may be the first library system in the state to offer iPads.

“Initially, a lot of libraries were offering Nook [eReaders] from Barnes & Noble, and then later, when Amazon came out with the Kindle, they were offering those,” Harmon said.

“We didn’t do either of those, so when we did go that direction, we decided to go where everyone was starting to go, which was the iPads.”

Patrons can even download apps and eBooks onto the tablets, but the library will wipe away any downloads once the machine is returned.

For more information on the program, go to www.khcpl.org/ipads/index.html.

• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at 765-454-8569 or via email at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com