Apple tablets for rent at Morisset Library

Spencer Van Dyk | Fulcrum Staff

Photo by Sean Campbell

MORISSET LIBRARY BEGAN renting iPads to students, staff, and faculty members on Aug. 8, in an attempt to facilitate and foster research. Following the examples of universities like McGill University and Concordia University, the University of Ottawa’s library staff has launched a pilot program they believe will aid students in learning.

“It came from our administrative team at the library,” said Maryse Laflamme, a librarian at the Morisset Library. “I know that because other universities were doing it, we wanted to do the same thing. We were wondering also, because it’s a pilot project, how it’s related to research, and how students will use it for research.”

There is no fee for the iPad rentals—students need only have a valid U of O student card and a library account in good standing to rent the tablets­. The iPads can be rented for a period of 48 hours without the possibility of renewal or reservations.

“We’ll start with the 25 [iPads],” said Laflamme. “I’m not sure if we downloaded an application on the iPad with a survey, but we created a guide for our iPad project and we have a feedback form, and we ask people if the information was helpful, when they used it, what they did with it, etc.”

Laflamme added that, for now, the iPad applications are straightforward and unelaborate. Among them are applications to use Microsoft and open documents; so far the intention is to monitor student interest in the project, as opposed to downloading an excessive number of applications.

“The group that prepared the project will look at other universities, and some of them downloaded a lot of applications, but we decided to keep it simple,” said Laflamme

Because of the limited number of iPads and the limited rental time period, Laflamme believes there will be little opportunity for students or staff members to be using the tablets for anything other than research. Although library computers are often used to access social networking sites and for other non-academic purposes, those computers are more accessible than the iPads, and have fewer restrictions on their terms of use.

While student reactions to the iPads remains to be seen, some students, like fourth-year psychology and sociology student, Victoriah Haince, like the idea of being able to rent the tablets.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Haince. “They’re lightweight and user-friendly. There are so many advantages to an iPad, and it’s nice to see that the university is keeping up with new technology and providing that to students who otherwise couldn’t take advantage of it.”

According to Laflamme, the iPad rentals have been few and far between so far, but she believes that once the semester starts, and with the project advertised through signs at the library and a link to the information on the library’s website, the iPads will soon be in higher demand. Librarians also plan to spread the word to professors and advertise the project in classroom visits.