Laptop Loaning Programme in Academic Libraries

There is evidence  to demonstrate that libraries allowing their patrons to use laptops  in the library premises has a positive impact to attract them to the libraries. In the developed countries, laptop usage has undergone a dramatic change, mainly in the academic environment. Since technology allowed the newer laptops to become lighter in weight, students are more willing to carry them to the library leading to a constant growth in the use of these devices. The fact was noted and subsequently, academic libraries like the Gleason Library at the University of Rochester, USA planned renovation projects which aimed to make the library spaces more suitable for the intensive use of new technologies. As a result, collaborative study spaces were created for both individual and group work, furniture was rearranged, a robust wired and wireless infrastructure accomodated to support the use of laptops and other digital technologies. These amenities were welcomed by laptop users mainly by students working on group-based assignments and brought a substantial growth in the number of users. In addition, it was observed that such space attracted more students to the library and it became one of the most desirable places to study.

Furthermore, in order to cater for the use of laptops which gained popularity at a faster rate throughout the country, some libraries like the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) are checking out laptops to their patrons. They have set up  ‘ Laptop check out procedures’ to answer to any programmatic and policy questions  and drawn  a ‘ Laptop check out policy and patron agreement’ form  to be duly filled by users which binds them to the effective use of the laptops without hampering or causing any damage to the materials. Government issued ID cards with current photographs along with the library cards are compulsory (for security reasons) to check out a laptop. A fine is stipulated in case of late check ins or violation of the rules in the policy. Whats more, these procedures and policies are shared equally between more libraries which want to check out laptops to its users.

The laptop use in the academic libraries in Mauritius has followed a similar trend. More students are bringing laptops into the libraries. However, they are compelled to use them in existing traditional library spaces. The amenities such as technology infrastructure, aesthetics and rearrangement of furniture have never received any serious consideration. Development of policies and strategies to accommodate tech-savvy users  are unfortunately delayed in the local library spaces. In view of the expected growth in the number of laptop users in the future ( students and academic members) it is imperative that authorities consider this revolution in the academic world of learning as a priority. Moreover, in order to market the library services and at the same time solve the ever-growing space issues, laptop check outs could be given some serious thought as an innovative incentive to attract the users. The University of Hong Kong libraries ‘Laptop Loaning Programme’ may be a model to emulate  (http://lib.hku.hk/techsupport/laptoploan.html). The transformation of library spaces need to be ultimately included in the concept of today’ s academic libraries in the local context. Ways to reshape and rethink services for more response from the users should be furthermore considered so that the objectives of the libraries to support learning and research of students and academic members are met with much satisfaction and less drawbacks.

Lalita Chumun

Reference:
1. Briden, Judi. 2008. Snapshots of laptop use in an academic library. University of Rochester, River Campus Libraries, USA
2. Laptop check out programs. Available from: http://techsoupforlibraries.org/files/

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5 Responses to “Laptop Loaning Programme in Academic Libraries”

  1. Soodarsen Says:

    Obviously, the uses of laptops in libraries has a positive impact on users, who find themselves spending more time in libraries. A true observation here in Montreal, Canada, at the National library of Canada, most of the time, the library is full with students and users, using their laptops, and even smart phones in the library. A student will definitely make use of all the facilities being offered, and thus, unknowingly, make his positive experiment of using his laptop in a library, known to his friends, and thus promote use of the libraries in all aspects. Mauritius, is far behind, but at least some changes are being done to promote the use of laptops in libraries. But it all rests on the management, who has to improve the wireless infrastructure in most of the libraries. If the National library can organise work sessions with the different library management, for sure the objectives of libraries will be met.

    • l.chumun Says:

      Compared to Canada, the local library community is delaying to introduce this service of laptop check outs, leave alone giving support and providing adequate infrastructure. Yet, it has to eventually give some consideration to keep up with the trend and accommodate the new technologies through work sessions as you suggested, lets hope, sooner.

  2. Roshni Narrain Says:

    The use of laptop is a great innovation for libraries. libraries need no longer host fixed computers which takes lots of spaces. The students in accademic libraries need no longer be confined in the four walls of the library. it allows decongestion during exams time. The databases and online journals to which the library is subscribed to can be checked throught laptop loan. It makes the library profession become more interesting. I will even go further to add that if the library has an online (OPAC) system the end user can even check his loan status, reserve a book or consult the online catalogue. lot of knowledge based services can be offered to users through a laptop, knowledge management framework can be made accessible and lots others. I think this will take 10 more years to be widely spread in Mauritius. The reality today in mauritius is that all our colleage libraries do not have even a library management sofware. Each public library(municipal ) is working in isolation. I fail to understand why it is taking so much time to have a proper LAN for all the state libraries . The UOM has a system working in isolation, no sharing of resources with UTM or other tertiary institution. We are talking of knowledge Hub Mauritius – Knowledge and Information and it is right time that Library professionals start taking possession of their rights; that is of becoming the custodian of not only books or archives but most importantly of Knowledge and Information. It is time that library professionals understand that there role is to make the society at large become knowledgeable. It is right time to stop just issuing books and handling only overdues, fines etc, we need to become the source of knowledge and information and a key actor in making mauritius a knowlege hub. If people think that they will wait for the authorities to do things for them then they better be mistaken. Librarians need to innovate and propose new services to their patrons be in in small scale on individual basis ,gradually others will emulate and change will definetly occur. we need to venture and try new things in our libraries. look for ways a means of innovating, why not the loan laptop service on a small sacle if we have someone to sponsor it. Lets have a look at the CSR funds of enterprises thay can perhaps help us. let us start if we are in colleges with HSC students, in tertiary sector may be to MBA students, in public libraries to a group of patrons who frequently use the library. we can start in house laptop loan

    • l.chumun Says:

      Sharing and collaborative platforms while implementing innovations are the factors which could definitely help in the creation of the knowledge hub as you suggested. Whats more, professionals who are able to assess and acknowledge the critical situation are needed to put in much effort to accommodate and realize the infrastructures required in order to overcome the ever growing lag in the field.

  3. Samuel Says:

    Check out http://www.laptopsanytime.com for a company that has developed automated laptop/netbook dispensing stations, perfect for automating laptop checkout in libraries. It can be set for “free operation” or for “charging” environments. My contact there tells me that not only are they rolling out stations to public libraries but that soon they will be entering University Libraries as well.

    Videos can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T3GMJuQp24

    Best,
    Samuel


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