We have already seen that Apple's iPad has been used to replace bulky flight manuals for airlines, textbooks for colleges and even playbooks for pro football players. But now a public library in Wisconsin has become the first known library in the US to actually offer iPads to its users. The L.E. Phillips Memorial Library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin received a grant from the Presto Foundation that allowed it to purchase and offer 44 iPads for its community to use.
32 of those iPads can be lent out to the library's users for up to seven days while six other iPads will stay in the library building but can be used by patrons for up to four hours at a time. The remaining six iPads are to be lent out to patrons who are stuck at home for medical reasons. Each of the iPads will have 1,000 eBooks available to read, loaded by the library's staff, along with 10 audiobooks and a number of free iPad apps. Users will be able to download content and apps for the iPad on their own during the seven day lending period but when the iPad is returned to the library its staff will restore the tablet to its original state, wiping out anything that the user might have downloaded.
Hopefully this new service will be expanded to other public libraries in the US. Earlier this week, Amazon announced that its Kindle eReader and apps will be able to download free eBooks from over 11,000 US public libraries.