Several months ago, two iPad Minis were installed in the high-school library. Their purpose? To aid students in their hunts for specific books.

Upon initial inspection, the iPads appear useful and efficient. The user is greeted with a pre-loaded library catalogue screen, and can easily type in search commands to find the book he/she desires. What else are the iPads for?

That’s a good question. One would expect, considering the capabilities of an iPad, a magical new interface setting these iPad catalogues apart from other ones. As it turns out, though, the iPads are locked on Follett Destiny, a website database that can be accessed through any device with Internet capabilities.

Locked? Yes, physically locked; the home buttons are covered by pieces of metal.

As such, these iPads have managed to spark some controversy among students and staff. Despite their functionality, many students are saying that they’re too functional—overqualified for their given task.

“It’s like having an iPad mounted to the wall in place of a light switch.  One function. Yeah, why don’t we start using iPads for all of our light switches?” senior Maxwell Shukuya said.

Others argue that the iPads are worth their $360 price tag because they are used frequently enough to make their presence valuable.

To attach some finite numbers to this debate, we took a poll of the high-school students.  As it turns out, 76 percent of the high school has yet to use the iPads. Of those, a little over a fourth weren’t even aware of the iPads’ existence before the poll.

Consequently, less than a quarter of the high school has used the iPads—a small percentage of which noted that the iPads were non-functional.

So this re-raises the question: are the iPads worthwhile? While the poll suggests otherwise, it wasn’t a complete study. Had the poll been expanded to all library users—rather than just the laptop-bearing high-school students—the totals might have resulted in different numbers. For the non-laptop-carrying user, the iPads may prove helpful in finding books, if not absolutely necessary.

“Catalogue kiosks are just something a lot of modern libraries have,” librarian Joanne Melinson said. “I talked with some other librarians who were considering the iPads at the time—I thought they would be a good addition to our library.”

At this point, the iPads are staying fixed to their mounts whether or not the high school makes use of them. Maybe with the attention now drawn to them, they’ll receive more usage from high schoolers and become worthwhile investments.

An earlier version of this column did not correctly report the cost of the iPads and misquoted librarian Joanne Melinson.

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