Because books in a Tablet Library will be moved to a warehouse or another branch it is important to allow patrons to be able to check out (circulation) Tablets and/or E-readers for use at home.
The type of tablet that the libraries will lend out depends on local budgets, and the cost of the tablets which they decide to lend out.
As mentioned in the article about total cost, e-readers are substantially less expensive than tablets, around $70-120 for e-readers compared to $300-$600 for tablets. When establishing a new tablet library you can first start with allowing patrons to check out e-readers because of their lower-cost, then after establishing a substantial user base, and the correct funding, the library can shift towards lending out other tablet devices (like iPads). Keep in mind that as time goes by tablet devices and e-readers could come down significantly in price, which will allow there circulation to be more economically feasible.
For more information on the cost of the readers and tablets visit “what about theft?” or “how much is this going to cost?”
If a tablet library decides to lend out tablets (iPads or Microsoft surface tablets) this would be beneficial for those who want to access information that is on the Internet (instead of only e-books), because many inexpensive e-readers have only limited access to the internet.
It is important to have enough e-readers or tablets in circulation to serve all patrons that request them.
Currently there are many libraries nationwide that lend out e-books and tablets but quantities per library are very limited, this has the effect of increasing the wait time for e-books to be checked out; in some instances patrons have to wait 2 to 3 months to check out an e-reader or a tablet.
The number of tablets needed in circulation is directly linked to the number of current active patrons that check out e-books from the library, or in the case of a library that has not implemented tablets, the number of patrons that visit the library and check out physical books.
For example if a local public library currently has on average 1200 patrons that check out books at any given time then they should carry approximately 1200 tablets in circulation.
Like physical books the patrons should be able to renew the tablets or e-readers.
An example may be that a patron checks out an e-reader and also checks out 15 e-books on the reader which need to be renewed in 30 days. If the books are not renewed in time the tablet will be locked (user will not be able to use it) and indicate to the user the device needs to be returned to the library, this means the books are not overdue (because they are digital and can be available for a fixed time) but the tablet could become overdue if the patron keeps it past the due date of the last e-book.
The library user never has to actually go back to the physical library to check out or renew the books they can simply browse their tablet or e-reader and choose which books they would like to check out. It may be necessary to set a maximum check-out time so the tablets can be returned and inspected every few months.
E-books change the way public libraries have been checking out books for decades, patrons would no longer need to return to the library to check out books, this means those who do not have a vehicle, mode of transportation or are disabled have increased access to books and digital information from the library.
Libraries can also participate in a tablet leasing program, which would give library users an option to make small payments to the library in exchange for the tablet (with no due date as long as they make payments) and over a 12-24 month period make $6-$15 month payments; at the end of the 12 months they would own the tablet or e-reader.
For long-term implementation it would be optimal to have a custom-designed public library tablet, one that is unique only to public libraries. This would have the effect of making it unmistakably the property of the public library and would deter those who would wish to steal it and resell it on the black market. It would also allow designers to tailor a tablet that is specific to public library usage.
The public library system could approach a large tablet manufacturer like Samsung, Apple, or Asus and secure contract to produce several million units and could do so at a significant cost reduction. Large manufacturers could even use existing models and simply adapt hardware and software to fit public library usage needs.