It’s nothing new for libraries to check out e-books to their patrons, and some of them even check out e-book reading devices. But the Palo Alto City Library is going to go one better: it’s going to check out Chromebooks.

The library started carrying 21 Chromebooks last month, and they’re available for in-library use. Starting next month, patrons will be able to sign up to take them home for one week. The idea is apparently to show people how awesome the Chromebook is and make them want to buy one themselves. Google has been having a hard time selling the devices so far.

Palo Alto isn’t the only place Google is putting Chromebooks in front of would-be buyers.

Google is piloting the Chromebook in a few places where people can test out this “shareability,” and Google can get some user feedback. If you’re flying Virgin America, you might get offered a loaner for the duration of your flight. In September, New Jersey’s Hillsborough Library started lending them out for four-hour windows.

The Multnomah County Library recently bought 10 Chromebooks for test-driving purposes. “We’re currently testing them at five of the six libraries that currently have loaner laptops — mostly by asking staff to play with them,” says Jeremy Graybill, a spokesman for the Portland, Oregon, library. “Some branches have relationships with specific patrons that allows them to put the Chromebooks in patron hands for supervised evaluation.

Certainly the Chromebook’s cloud-based paradigm makes it ideal for checkout if any laptop is. Since the device essentially acts as a terminal onto Google’s web-based services like Gmail and Google Docs, it means a user only needs wifi and his account ID to access his own services from any Chromebook (or any other computer, for that matter). But the problem is, users are still more familiar with and accustomed to Windows’s way of doing things, and that’s going to be tricky to overcome.

(Found via our sister blog, Gadgetell.)


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