Eau Claire library sees 'rare' problem with overdue tablet

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library filed a court order against a customer who had an iPad nearly 30 days past its due date.

Police were able to retrieve the iPad and return it to the library that says it was surprisingly one of just a handful of cases where police were called.

The library has loaned iPads to customers for the past three years. Circulation manager Laura Miller said the library got grant money to buy the iPads to give customers an experience hard covers and paperbacks can't.

“We were one of the first libraries in the nation to actually check out iPad from the building and at the amount of them, 28, was huge,” Miller said.

“One of the key components was to provide for those folks so they can have audiobooks, they can see large print, because the iPad has the ability to do quite a bit of things for people with visual disabilities.”

Miller said they've been checked out about 2,000 times,
and some have abused the opportunity.

On Wednesday, the library got a court order to have police get involved with a customer who missed his due date by nearly a month.

“Libraries have losses. That's part of doing the business as a library, but we don't like to see any of our materials not returned, the iPad in specific is such a unique device and being be able to use it, we just want to keep it available for all customers.”

Miller said after calls and notices, and a ten dollar fine each day, the library will get police involved, but she said it's rare that it gets to that point.

“(We’ve had) probably a half dozen (problems) in total. Half of which, we have been able to retrieve and get back without issues of not having it come back and be damaged. They also were able to come back and be circulated.”

“We were a little surprised we didn't have more issues at the beginning. And even law enforcement couldn't believe that.”

She said with few problems, the library is making upgrades to newer technology.

Miller said having customer phone numbers and addresses helps them recover overdue items, and security cameras and locks have prevented theft.

The Eleva Strum School District checks out iPads and Macbooks to students from second to 12th grades and said it's also seen very few problems, because people don't want to lose their privileges, Superintendent Craig Semingson said.