January 28, 2022

Eau Claire, Wisconsin Public Library Says iPad Lending Project a Major Success

Here’s an update to a story we first shared 14 months ago.

From the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, WI:

Initially funded by a grant from The Presto Foundation, the project has provided area residents the opportunity to borrow Apple iPads for the purpose of gaining familiarity with emerging technology, specifically devices that offer a new way to access and use information and media.

The library began lending iPads to customers on September 21, 2011. 


Although there were a couple of other public libraries loaning one or two iPads prior to the project’s launch, the public library in Eau Claire appears to have been the first public library in the country to begin lending iPads in such large numbers.

Demand for the iPads was high for quite some time after their introduction, and at one point the number of holds remained around 400. There were constantly 350-plus holds for the first six months. By early October 2012, iPads designated for checkout had been borrowed more than 1,000 times, and in-house use iPads had been checked out almost 600 times.

Remarkably, there have been few customer or equipment problems. Prior to the program launch, library staff developed policies, use guidelines and training documents that helped inform and educate would-be borrowers about the use and care of iPads, and security options and protective cases were researched in depth. This advance planning along with customers’ attentiveness has resulted in only a few incidents of minor wear and tear and the occasional overdue return.

Serious issues relating to the lending of the iPads have been extremely rare. Considering all the customers that have borrowed iPads and the number of times they have been lent, library staff have been pleased with how well everything has gone.

The library website’s iPad page has been continuously updated; it includes iPad resources, guidelines and agreements, video tutorials, and accessibility guides. It also includes information on the library’s “easy start” version of the iPad. This special streamlined version contains less library-added content, thus making for easier navigation. For added accessibility, the Zoom feature is enabled on all Easy Start iPads (making it easier to use for those with visual impairments), and most of the content does not require Wi-Fi, so nearly everything will work without Internet access.

Throughout this past year, more than 30 libraries have contacted Eau Claire’s public library to inquire about the lending program – many from the Midwest; others from as far away as Los Angeles, British Columbia and Sweden.

Read the Complete Announcement

Direct to the Libraries iPad Info Page

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.