E-books were surprisingly slow to catch on initially, but now with a range of e-readers out there, they are relatively widespread. Various libraries circulate the devices. MA prep school Cushing Academy got rid of its print collection in favor of e-sources.
I wonder about public vs. academic libraries regarding this issue. It does make more sense for an academic library to go that route than it does a public library.
Public libraries serve children and the elderly, both groups less likely to use e-readers. I believe that public libraries will adapt, albeit a bit slower than consumer culture. But that's because public libraries have a number of considerations: what is the purpose of circulating a Kindle or like product? Is it for people to try it out or to read a couple of publications? What content should be loaded onto it? What should be the loaning period? What quantity should be purchased? Seems like a guessing game at this point.
Of course there is also the option of offering e-books to library members without the e-readers. The books can then be read either on the computer or on the person's own e-reader, similar to a downloadable audiobook service which many people use with ease. And the Publishers Weekly "Outlook 2010" (Jan. 4, 2010) points out the uncertainty of "whether consumers will continue to go for dedicated reading devices. Already, more and more consumers are choosing to read using apps designed for smart phones, like the iPhone/iPod Touch and the new Android OS phones."