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Council offers free iPads

It's a library loan, so you'll have to return it

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A Sydney library is claiming a world first: it's going to add Apple iPads and Samsung Galaxy tablets to its lending shelves.

Perhaps regrettably, the chance to borrow a tablet will only be available to residents of the City of Canterbury – a local government area to the south-west of Sydney's central business district – at least unless other councils decide to follow its lead.

The move probably makes sense. From tentative beginnings in 2011, e-book lending is gathering pace in Australian libraries, with more than a dozen libraries now offering such services (at a glance, the OverDrive platform seems to have a strong presence).

The devices will be lent from libraries in Earlwood, Campsie, Lakemba and Riverwood. The library is offering WiFi versions – not 3G connectivity – and it seems that the library will have a fairly open attitude to how borrowers use them.

“WiFi access”, said Canterbury mayor Brian Robson, will let users “download apps, ebooks, eAudiobooks, surf the net, watch YouTube ... is freely available at all our branch libraries and wherever else WiFi is available.”

There are currently 15 each of iPads and Galaxy tablets for loan, and the library says it's planning to expand its digital resources as well. The Library Council of NSW supported the project with a grant of more than $AU50,000. ®

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