Netbooks are low cost portable laptops that can function as secondary computers for some folks — or primary computers for those who may not have the money to buy a more powerful machine (or the interest in spending that kind of money). But something neat happens when you make computers more affordable and more portable: you also make them more accessible. A handful of public libraries, for instance, have begun loading out netbooks to patrons with library cards, no cash needed.

I noticed an article today about the public library in Bartlesville, Oklahoma which will begin lending out netbooks for up to 7 days at a time. But a little digging tells me that the Bartlesville library isn’t unique.

The Stillwater Public Library in Oklahoma also loans netbooks for up to 2 days, while Thomas J Harrison Pryor Public Library (also in Oklahoma), will also support netbook checkouts. In fact, most of the public libraries I’ve discovered which are offering netbook loans appear to be in Oklahoma, which may be due to grants from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and other funds. Perhaps we’ll see similar programs elsewhere if the Oklahoma projects prove popular.

A number of other public libraries around the country let patrons borrow netbooks or laptops for use on-site, but the computers cannot be removed from the building. There are also a number of universities which lend netbooks and laptops to students on an hourly or daily basis.

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4 replies on “Can’t afford your own netbook? Borrow one from the library”

  1. I was thinking about the mischief a decent hacker could do with a few days alone with a Win 7 or OS X computer by figuring out the admin password and installing sketchy surveillance software.

    But a Chrome OS machine be perfect for loaning I should think, right?  Easy enough to start the machine fresh each time it goes out.  No data is stored locally or very little would be stored locally.  And what can be done on it is only limited by what online applications Google makes.  What you want is an OS that is easy to bring back to square one, and is so simple it is easy to CONFIRM it is ready to go to the next user.  Also, it is far less likely a hacker would make something to trick Chrome OS, they would be looking for vulnerabilities for Windows 8 or OS 11

    1. Well it’ll still be a little over a year before hackers can start on Windows 8, so most attacks will be towards existing available versions.

      While Chrome OS does technically provide a more ideal security for open lending of the system, since pretty much everything is on the cloud and locked to your account log-in, but it’s not fool proof. 

      Physical access means a hacker could trick out the system with things like a USB key logger for example, which can be installed internally.  So anything you type, like your password and other account information, can be captured. While the more advance hackers could possible corrupt the Chrome OS to basically relay any information that goes through it to a remote server for them to access.

      Though this generally means the hacker needs to get physical access to the system and that likely means they will be on the log list of people who have borrowed the system.  Depending of course on whether the hacker doesn’t hack the library records and many of them depend on computers now to keep track.

      However, there is very little chance that you’ll have to worry because Chrome still has a very tiny user base, even tinier for each system that has to be personally hacked, and hackers tend to go for targets that will net them the most profit for the effort.  While it is also easier to target Windows with more established hacking methods.

      Since there aren’t actually that many true hackers, many just use off the self code and hardware and do easy hacks that those tools make possible.  Means most attacks will be relatively easy to avoid or counter.

      While the serious hackers focus on big targets that will gain them both fame and profit, but most of all profit and we’re just small fish in the ocean as the saying goes…

  2. I’m proud to see Oklahoma doing something a bit progressive!  All too often we get “highlighted” for doing something dumb.

    I do wonder how long the netbooks will hold up.  Most of them I’ve used aren’t exactly built to last without of a bit of a kid-glove mentality.

    1. Depends on the netbook.  Not all are that easy to damage, especially the models with SSDs.

      However, people tend to be rough on all computers and multiply the number of user per system will generally multiply the rate the system accumulates wear and tear.

      So likely the libraries will have to replace them faster than the regular user would.  People also tend to be more careful with their own property than something borrowed…

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