Books, DVDs, video games and now laptops: This week, the Iowa City Public Library adds computers to its collection of items available for checkout.
As of today, Mar. 1, five Lenovo laptops equipped with the Windows 7 operating system and Microsoft Office Professional 2013 software will be available to patrons.
Currently, there are 40 computer workstations on the second floor of the library that are available to both library card holders and visitors.
Card holders in the library’s service area, which includes Iowa City, Hills, Lone Tree, University Heights and rural Johnson County, are eligible to check out the laptops. A parent or guardian must provide signed permission for patrons under 18. Laptops can be checked out for up to one week.
ICPL’s laptop program was motivated in part by the changing ways in which Americans use the internet. “We read in last April’s Pew Study on Internet Use that a significant portion of the country’s population own a smartphone but do not have other computer options,” ICPL Collection Services Coordinator Anne Mangano wrote in an email. “If a smartphone is your only option, it is difficult to submit job applications, type resumés and cover letters or take an online class. Although we have several computer options for the community inside the building, what if someone cannot use the library when it is open?”
The library was also looking at how to extend its services beyond downtown. “In 2012, we had a computer lab open in the Pepperwood Plaza police substation that didn’t get much traction,” Mangano said. “But what if it was the hours that were the barrier? If we offered laptops to take home, we are giving our community more options to use our computers when they need them.”