It’s an exciting week for us this week. Not because it’s the last week before semester break, although that is also a Good Thing. No, this week we’re launching our 20 new netbooks into circulation.
So maybe it is because I am a bit of a nerd that I think this is exciting!
A quick scan of the library and education literature indicates lending laptops are fairly ubiquitous in academic libraries, at least in the US. Their popularity is also well documented. Our experience has been no different. We introduced laptops into circulation around 2003 in our main library and the branches a few years later.
At our branch we have 16 laptops, which are leased assets. They are issued for 4 hours, though most people use them for less than that time. We will renew them if there is nobody waiting to use them. The laptops are probably the most popular lending item we have available. Even our most popular course reserve text Nursing care plans does not come close to matching the laptop issuing statistics. According to the statistics we can issue a laptop around 13 times per day. On some days they will be all issued before 9.00 in the morning.
Adding 20 netbooks is going to provide another option for our students. This year we have a larger population of students owing to the relocation of a number of courses previously taught at the main campus. Pressure on computing resources is high and the availability of computing labs is low so we are anxious to get these babies out there. They sure are dinky.
From our entirely unscientific observations, we’ve noticed our students are using portable computing as they work in groups together. As the building is wireless they also take them to other areas of the library to take advantage of quiet spaces, comfortable chairs and our study room. We have had a number of requests to take laptops to classrooms too but so far the policy is remaining library only use.
We are also excited to have one for staff use. Well, perhaps I should say I am excited to have a netbook for staff use. Yes, I am easily pleased.
The number of students who own a personal laptop is increasing but we still have a bulk of student body who do not have portable personal computing or who prefer to use our facilities. I think is this a reflection on the type of student our institution caters for. Although the prices of laptops and netbooks have dropped dramatically over the past 2-3 years, they are still out of reach for many of our low income students. It feels good to be able to offer some options to them in terms of portable computing.