Beyond the Book: A New Program Lets You Borrow iPads from the Boston Public Library

Last month, at Mayor Menino’s urging, the Boston Public Library is planning to launch a pilot program that allows city residents to borrow iPads stocked with books and apps, and keep them for up to two weeks. We asked Michael Colford, the director of library services, about the iPads.

borrow ipad boston public library

Photo by Scott M. Lacey

Where can I get one?

The limited pilot program will offer 20 of them at the central library, and 10 per location at five branches. After six months of testing how they’re used and what the demand is, the BPL will consider expanding.

Why not a simple e-reader?

The BPL went with the tablets because of the features they offer the visually impaired (they’ll read aloud to you), as well as their ability to browse the Internet, which can help bridge the urban-digital divide.

What will I be reading?

The library’s collection-development team is loading the iPads with 20 to 40 recent titles, ranging from fiction (The Silver Linings Playbook) to nonfiction (a Thomas Jefferson biography) to cookbooks (Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café).

Can I play games on them, too?

Yep, and you can also use preloaded apps such as NPR and Pandora.