To an increasing degree, the avid readers of the world are indulging in the printed word not between the covers of a book, but on a computer screen.

With that in mind, we’ll be interested to see how a pilot program at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library plays out.

The Main Library has started lending out a set of 10 laptops to patrons for three days at a stretch.

The laptops, purchased through a federal stimulus grant, are available only to patrons 18 years or older who have a library card in good standing issued at least 90 days before checking out the computer.

A late fee of $10 per day will be charged if the computer isn’t returned by the due date, and patrons will face a $1,000 charge if the laptop is lost or seriously damaged.

Tracking devices on the computers will help keep the laptops from disappearing. The computers are programmed so nothing is saved on the hard drive.

We’re glad the library is starting small with this idea and using it as an experiment. We can see challenges with wear and tear on a laptop that’s continuously on loan, but Mary Stein, assistant library director, said a similar program in Jefferson Parish has had no problems.

The number of computers in the loan program right now is very small, but if the program is a success, we hope library officials consider expanding it.