As the USF Library waits for a new set of laptops to arrive in the spring, a program that started the first week of classes that allows students to rent iPads has begun to rise in popularity.
At the beginning of the semester, the Library purchased 19 iPad 3 tablet computers for student use in the Library. The program now sees up to several hundred checkouts a week, according to the Librarys circulation statistics.
Library Services Manager Scott Ryan said the program was adopted early this semester because other universities began similar programs that became successful.
UCF does (iPad rentals), and I went to their campus to see how they managed their policy, Ryan said. We liked that somebody had tried (a rental system) before and we werent taking a shot in the dark.
UCF students can check out iPads for a seven-day period, but at USF the iPads are rented out to students for a three-hour period. Ryan said the USF Library requires that checked out iPads remain in the Library while in use, but that the policy may be changed once Library staff look at usage statistics during winter break.
There really isnt a security reason for this, he said. We implemented this policy to match (the policy of) laptops and to play it safe.
During the first week of classes, iPads had only been checked out 20 times and laptops were checked out 212 times. However, by the end of week 11 of the semester, iPads had been checked out 330 times during the week, and laptops a total of 719 times.
The largest number of checkouts in a week for iPads was 441 times, during the eighth week of the semester. Laptops were checked out the most during the fifth week, with a total of 822 checkouts.
Advertisement of the iPad rental program started with posters in the Library, and students began to take notice as the semester continued. Ryan said he estimates that peak times for check-outs of both iPads and laptops is during the afternoon hours.
There are 45 laptops available for student use, but Ryan said some of them are beginning to lose their
battery life. He said the Library anticipates an arrival of new laptops by spring to replace the current set.
The iPads have various free apps, such as Facebook, Skype and an application for students to access the Library databases, but students cannot download more apps or change an iPads settings. The iPads have no games or word processing apps.
Ryan said he hopes that in the future, the Library will download more apps to the iPads.
Last Tuesday afternoon, Andres Brito, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences, was put on a waiting list to rent a laptop. Brito checked out an iPad while he waited. He said the check-out process was simple, but that the only thing he felt he could do with the iPad was use the Internet.
I would rather (the Library) buy new laptops than the iPads, he said. A lot of my homework has to use Java player and I need a laptop for that.
Students with a USF ID can check out an iPad at the service desk on the first floor of the Library.
If not returned on time, there is a late fee of $10 per hour charged to the student. The maximum in late fees that a student can be charged is $50. If an iPad is lost or damaged while in a students possession, the student is charged a fee of $600, plus a non-return fee of $20.
Madelaine Assi, a freshman majoring in international studies, said she felt that renting an iPad was useful to do research while studying at Starbucks.
I was going to get a laptop, but I knew I wasnt going to be doing much typing, and I would primarily be doing research, Assi said. I think it was easier than getting a laptop because it wasnt as heavy, and the iPads are newer, too. I think it was faster than a laptop would have been.