Tablet Lending Program
Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, Fla.
The 2010 US Census reports that one in four households do not have access to the internet. A disproportionate number of those households are located in lower income and minority communities. This trend is reflected in many of our local libraries, where customers rely heavily on library computers for access to eGovernment, electronic resources, job applications, and homework assistance. Wait times of 30 to 60 minutes are common in lower income communities, with the added limitation of branches that close as early as 6 p.m. The library seeks to address this issue by extending access beyond its physical buildings.
Key Elements of Innovation
With only a library card and photo ID, individuals can now borrow Samsung Galaxy tablets from the library for up to three weeks at a time. The tablets are fitted in protective cases and packaged in a travel pouch with charger, borrowing guidelines, and instructions. They have unlimited data plans and come preloaded with apps for library subscription electronic resources, Google Chrome, Google Play, and productivity tools. Additional software may be downloaded throughout the circulation period, but for security all apps are reset and personal information is cleared upon return. Knox software remotely manages access but does not monitor activity.
Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library encourages use of its many electronic resources, which include online learning, homework help, financial information, downloadable eBooks, magazines, and audiobooks, and streaming music and video. Customers dependent on the library for the tools to access this information are generally limited to the hours of operation of our physical locations. The tablet lending program offers greater flexibility in providing access to these resources and enhances the library’s ability to provide support for civic, school, technology, and workforce readiness. Since the launch of the program in April 2016, the tablets have already circulated over 150 times.