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.