This is pretty cool. Drexel University has installed an iPad rental vending machine that can be accessed by university students and neighboring residents. Students must present their ID while non-students take out an iPad with a valid Library of Philadelphia card. The rental period lasts four hours, and all data entered by the customer is expunged when the device is returned.
Our take on the news
When I was in college, the school referred to its library as the "media center." I thought it was a silly name, but today I realize just how prescient a decision it was. Today, I love to work from my local library, and I see how it can become a communication hub for the community at large.
Video conferences with professionals in Hong Kong could be as commonplace as checking out a copy of The Old Man And The Sea. Community calendars that anyone can subscribe to with their home computers. Live blogging local literary events, book signings or special happenings at the local museum.
When a person wonders, “What’s going on today,” the automatic answer could be, “Check the library.” Today, people search a newspaper's website, tourist magazines, community calendars, etc. The library should be the de-facto answer. Everything from live streaming of town meetings to the inventory of Jean’s weekend garage sale should be available at the library.
Steve Jobs once called the Mac a “digital hub” which brings together a person’s photos, music, stories, etc. I see the library as doing the same for the people it serves — a community’s “Communication Hub.”