Julie Jones' "Adding iPads to Your Library’s Arsenal: Opportunities and Challenges"

Imageby Sara Holder

Many libraries have been lending laptops for years and some have begun to lend ebook readers. Might the iPad be next? In this session Julie Jones, Liaison Librarian for Human Geography and Urban Planning at McGill University, detailed the potential opportunities and limitations that iPads present for libraries. Her material was gathered through a review of the literature, a survey of innovative uses of iPads in libraries, and the results of a recent evaluation done at McGill University’s Humanities & Social Sciences Library on the use of iPads for library service provision and lending.

Though iPads have features in common with both laptops and ereaders, they are unique in many ways. Instead of software programs, iPads use apps (delivered via an iTunes account) to easily display  web-based material and downloaded ebooks (in full color), providing a user-friendly, comfortable reading experience that preserves the original formatting of documents. McGill librarians reacted very positively to their iPad experience and discovered a multitude of potential uses such as: roving reference and library tours, remote work with collections, easily accessing documentation needed at meetings, and lending course reserves and rare and delicate materials. A number of other libraries have begun lending iPads and have discovered some potential pitfalls such as app licensing, staff time for updating and restoring (removing any apps added by users), and the high cost of repair and replacement.

Julie’s thought-provoking presentation prompted many questions, including one of her own: “Will the iPad change the way we provide library services or is it ultimately a personal consumer device with too many limitations to be put to use by libraries?” Stay tuned…

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