MPAL iPad Loans

University of Illinois Library

Innovation Grant Status Report May 2014

Music and Performing Arts Library

iPad Loan Program

Kirstin Dougan



Planning and Implementation


In summer 2013 we used our Innovation Grant award to purchase five iPads and the related hardware necessary to securely store, charge, and manage them. During the summer and fall semester of 2013 I worked closely with Library IT and Eric Kurt in the Undergraduate Library to create workflows and policies for managing and circulating the iPads. We faced several challenges related first to the upgrade of the iOS that happened during this time period, and second, to Apple’s disregard for any model that is not based around “one device to one user”. In the meantime, my graduate assistant investigated and evaluated appropriate apps for dance, music, theater, and general productivity needs, and created documentation for our processes.


Despite these challenges, we began lending the iPads at the start of spring semester 2014. We marketed with signs and posts to our Twitter feed (@mpalillinois). Word quickly got out and the iPads were in almost constant circulation from the beginning. We had very few troubles with procedures or policies. While we originally implemented a one-week, no-renewals policy, based on patron feedback we changed this policy mid-semester to more closely match UGLs so that now patrons may request a one-time renewal. At this time we included the caveat that another iPad must be available and ready to loan for a renewal to be allowed, because we have only five to go around.


Table 1 Spring Semester 2014 Circulation Statistics

Device Loans Renewals
iPad 1 10 1
iPad 2 10 2
iPad 3 16 1
iPad 4 11 3
iPad 5 11 3


Over the course of the 15 week semester, most of the iPads were charged out at any given point, and frequently, all were charged out at the same time. We had a handful of requests to provide semester-long access to the iPads for various uses, but with only five iPads we felt that those needs were better addressed at the department level (for example, I recommended that the Theatre Department work with their IT department to obtain iPads for use in preparing productions).


We created an informational LibGuide for both patrons’ and circulation staff members’ benefit:, and point to it from our signs and info cards that are placed in the iPad cases.


Patron Use and Feedback

Patron feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Most patrons who checked out an iPad kept it for the entire week loan period and used it every day, in a variety of locations both on and off campus. Reasons for use included practice aid, completing assignments, accessing course materials, to temporary use as a replacement for a broken laptop.



In February 2014 I delivered a very successful poster about our project at the Music Library Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA. I spent almost the entire two-hour block talking to music library colleagues and all 50 of my handouts were taken. While presenting my poster, the editor of Music Reference Services Quarterly approached me about writing an article based on our experience for them. I will be coauthoring this with my GA.



Campus and the Library are cooperating to implement a management solution for the iPads (and other mobile technology) that will make it even easier for us to manage and circulate the iPads. Library IT and those of us working with lending technology (UGL and MPAL at this time) have had and will continue to have regular meetings concerning technology changes, workflows, and policies.


We have ordered styluses for patrons to use when annotating scores on the iPads (based on patron feedback). We will also investigate paid versions of some of our apps to increase their functionality and make them of more use to our patrons. We would like to expand our iPad holdings to ten and consider ordering other peripherals to loan with them (such as tools like foot pedals to turn pages when using the iPad as a music stand). The success of our program supports this and I think that with more/better apps and additional peripherals, the use of the iPads will only grow.