After a recent consulting visit to a local library, I have been pondering the practicality of laptops being checked out for public use in the library. The Best Practices of Academic Library Information Technology Directors report states "In general, students appear to appreciate the option of borrowing laptops from their library, and most libraries that offer this service report high levels of student enthusiasm. In addition, libraries report virtually no problems with theft or even poor maintenance of equipment. However, the time demands of storing, distributing, maintaining, providing net access, and assuring compliance with legally mandated use provisions leads many librarians to seek to limit the programs. In addition, the availability of lap tops in the library does not appear to significantly affect use of other library workstations."
While the above is from the academic library report, much of the same can be said of the public library world. If we, meaning public libraries, do not make laptops available for check-out in the library, we can certainly allow patrons to bring in their laptops. Then of course, we need to allocate staff time to help those patrons get connected to our wireless network. Do we have enough staff to handle the computers we are already troubleshooting?
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