Pathways To Best Practice 8: Loaning mobile devices


Loaning mobile devices to library users.

State of maturity

Becoming mainstream, though generally only one or two different types of devices per library.

Explanation of area

Offering resources and services via mobile devices is only of use if you can access a mobile device. In order to provide more people with access to these options, some libraries loan out mobile devices. This may be for use within the library only (or sometimes on the campus in the case of a University), or could be for loan to take home.

Examples of devices for loan include:

  • E-readers – either preloaded with material or blank for users to load their own material
  • Tablet computers (e.g. iPads) – either preloaded with apps, or blank for users to add their own apps
  • iPod Touch – often preloaded with apps

Examples of work in area

Library Sector Country Overview of work Links/resources
Yale College, Wrexham Further and Higher Education UK Loan iPads within the college library Using iPads in and around the library
University of Chester Higher Education UK Trial project loaning Kindles to a group of English Literature students Kindle Project at the University of Chester
Radcliffe Science Library, University of Oxford Higher Education UK E-readers and iPad 2 loaned to users iPad lending at RSL
E-readers at RSL
Newcastle University Higher Education UK Sony PRS505 E-readers Newcastle University e-reader loan FAQs
The Queens Library Public Library US First public library in New York to pilot the loan of e-readers E-reader loan scheme

Lessons learned from work so far

  • Work with staff within the organisation to ensure the materials on the devices support the organisation’s mission.
  • Work with IT staff within the organisation to help setup the devices and create a workflow for managing check-in and check-out of devices.
  • Management of the devices can be a time-consuming and complicated process – try to streamline this as much as possible.
  • Ensure library staff are comfortable with the basic features of any devices for loan.
  • Encourage someone to act as a trainer/expert in the library, ideally offering training sessions to users – in groups or one-to-one.
  • Look at producing (or reusing existing) training and support systems for those users who are unfamiliar with the devices i.e instructional videos, how-to or user guides or FAQs.
  • Provide information about the resources available on the devices (i.e. content and apps).
  • Consider insuring the devices for accidental damage (or set aside budget to replace any which are returned damaged).

Key contacts

Sarah Barker (Yale College, Wrexham):
Fiona McLean and Joanna Shepherd (University of Chester): and

Useful links

Comprehensive guide on iPad 2 from Radcliffe Science Library (includes information about loaning and using iPad as well as information about the content and apps on the iPad).
E-reader pilot projects at the University of Manchester.
Use of e-readers from Loughborough University (includes information on features and functionality of a number of different e-readers).
Libraries Lending eReaders website collating information to help libraries lending ereaders.
Bundle of iPad apps loaded onto iPads at Yale College, Wrexham (for use within library).

Updated: 23 August 2012 by Jo Alcock as part of JISC m-library community support project.

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