Concordia library to start lending out iPads

But is it a good use of tuition money?


Photo by Rego - d4u.hu on Flickr

Concordia University’s library will lend out iPads to students starting this month. OpenFile Montreal reports that the library has acquired 25 of the tablet computers and they’re almost ready to go.

Concordia, like many schools, lends out laptops. That’s undoubtedly a useful service for students who want to do research in the library instead of carting home a pile of books. And not everyone can afford a laptop, so this improves access.

But while a number of American university libraries lend out iPads to students, Concordia is the first university in Quebec to do so. Some universities, including nearby McGill, offer e-readers, but iPad lending appears to be rare in Canada. The only other example I can find, using an (albeit non-exhaustive) Google search, is at York University’s Steacie Science and Engineering Library. They have a single solitary iPad to lend.

I know libraries are trying to keep pace with changing technologies, as Guylaine Beaudry of Concordia’s Webster Library argues in OpenFile. But I think lending out iPads is little more than a novelty. I can’t imagine it’s much easier to take notes from a book on a tablet than on a traditional computer. And why would you want to read an e-book when you’re surrounded by real books? I know digital course-packs are the way of the future, but are Concordia students really going to be studying on their borrowed iPads—or just playing?

Don’t forget, iPads cost money. For each one purchased, schools can afford to buy fewer laptops.

I asked my roommate, an English literature student at Concordia University, what she thinks of the idea of borrowing an iPad from the library. She replied with indignation: “I hope my tuition isn’t paying for that.” A fun as iPads may be, I have to agree with my roommate.


Concordia library to start lending out iPads

  1. The University of New Brunswick in Saint John is lending 2nd year nursing students iPads this semester (60 iPads in total): [Moderator’s note: a link has been removed.]

  2. For an academic library, lending out tablet computers is more than a novelty. In addition to printed books, computers or mobile phones, tablets offer new modes of interaction between the reader and the information. The tablet is offering interactive and different ways to read and create contents. Newspapers, scholarly journals and books are all document types to which one can have access through a tablet. For Concordia University Libraries, a tablet loan service is an effective way to share resources and to valorise the digital library we are giving access to our users.

    • We are still asking ourselves how much it will cost and where the money is coming from since Concordia’s library is in need of more money for the actual books and journals that are not provided by OpenAccess and expensive databases. The role of a University library hardly seems to be to valorise the digital library, but rather to give scholars, students and experts access to relevant material.

  3. Before this school should even think of buying and lending out iPads to its students, it needs to fix their escalators. I am a student at this university and I would rather have functioning escalators that help me get to class on time rather than a measly iPad on which to research. Concordia university states that they have invested $16,000,000 in infrastructure yet, every day this week the first and second escalators in the H building were out of order. Someone is eating up the budget set up for infrastructure repairs.

    Also on a side note. I am an owner of an iPad. I wouldn’t recommended it for school work unless each iPad is paired with a keyboard since it gets really annoying to type with fingers and try to hold the whole unit. I purchased a Zagg keyboard/Case which was an extra $100 (I found it necessary to be able to type on some sort of keyboard, if I was to use my ipad for schoolwork).. I think it would have been a smarter choice to buy laptops for students rather than trying to appear “technologically advanced” by purchasing overpriced ipads. Just saying.


  4. Forget it. It is just a tinker toy. I have been using an ASUS 1015PN Netbook for 10 months (the price is really coming down at amazon.ca).

    This ASUS is a super-sturdy platform for writing. It does not develop glitches. It is easy to carry around.

    The iPad is just a fad. It handles very badly.

    I asked a geology student at SFU what the official field computer was for his program. He said: none. Despite all the talk of innovation, universities are often living in the IT dinosaur age.

    I strongly recommend that the ASUS 1015PN–a Netbook on steroids–be made the official computer for high schools and undergrad programs in Quebec and Ontario. It would be a good investment for banks and businesses to buy this Netbook for all the students.

    I do not like tinker toys.

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