Google is teaming up with a dozen college campuses across the U.S. to provide access to free Chromebook notebooks to any student who wants one, in a system that lets them temporarily check out the laptops for late-night cram sessions or just finding the best animal GIFs on Imgur.
The Google program features fun-colored café-style installations like the one pictured above, which will tour the 12 campuses this school year. The Lending Library has the fairly clear intent of getting students some hands-on time with Chromebooks and Chrome OS, which Google clearly sees as a smart fit for the college set, but which could also undeniably use a grassroots student body-led adoption movement to pick up steam.
The Lending Library will make a three-day appearance at various schools beginning in September, and running through October, and Google promises more dates to come. It’s operating on a first-come, first-serve basis, and checkout periods can span the entire stay of Google on that particular campus, but not longer – anyone who exceeds the time limit will be charged for the device, but Google also says there are “no hard feelings” if that ends up happening.
A trial period could spark interest in lightweight, inexpensive notebooks running on Google’s curious desktop OS, but it will take a lot of legwork to make these more popular than the MacBook, which is present in higher ed to a degree that helps explaining the Mac’s continued growth even in the face of a slumping PC market.