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March 11, 2002

Library's laptop loans popular with students, faculty, and staff

By Ann M. Gibb

"This program rocks," "It was a lifesaver," "Great program, great idea" are some of the comments from users about the Science & Engineering Library's laptop computer loan program.

Jossilyn Montano helps Zachary Booth check out a laptop computer at the Science & Engineering Library. Photo: Angelica Farber
In effect since July 2001, the program is popular not only with patrons but library staff as well, who recently approved the program as a permanent service at the Science & Engineering Library.

"The laptops really contribute to the idea of 'one-stop shopping' in a quiet environment," said Ann Hubble, Earth sciences librarian, who proposed the idea after researching similar programs at other institutions.

"Many students also feel the laptops made their time more efficient by allowing them to come into the library and work on papers in between classes."

The program provides six Dell laptop computers for use within the Science & Engineering Library. The laptops are equipped with standard applications including Windows 98, MS Office 2000, and an Internet browser. Students, faculty, and staff in good standing with the library can check out a laptop for up to two hours, with the option to renew. A zip drive and two CD-ROM drives are also available for use with the laptops. Library staff at the circulation desk provide check-out services for the laptops.

To borrow a laptop, students need a UCSC identification card with current quarter validation; faculty and staff need photo identification in addition to a UCSC identification card. All patrons borrowing a laptop must agree to be responsible for any damage or theft to the equipment while it is on loan. Over a five-month test period, the laptops were checked out a total of 1,138 times, with no equipment failure, damage, or loss.

"Patrons like the flexibility of location that comes with laptops. They can be anywhere in the Science & Engineering Library to do their work," said Catherine Soehner, head of the Science & Engineering Library. "Since the pilot period of the laptop loan program was so successful, we opened seven new Ethernet ports in the library for a total of 15," Soehner said. Ethernet ports provide laptop users with access not only to the Internet, but to UCSC's network and all library electronic resources as well.

As one satisfied customer commented in a survey on the laptop loan program: "It's awesome to be able to work on a computer where the research is."

More information on the laptop loan program is available online.

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