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Award Report: Supporting the Transformation to Digitial Resources with In-Libray Laptop Computers–University of Rochester

The University of Rochester Medical Center Libraries in Rochester, NY, was awarded a Technology Improvement Award by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) Middle Atlantic Region in 2010-2011.  The award was used to implement a laptop lending program in the Edward G. Miner Library, with the goal of improving access to digital resources by expanding availability and access to public computers for library customers.

Five laptop computers (three PC’s and two Macs) were purchased and configured for checkout through the integrated library system.  A team at Rochester developed policies and a borrowing contract to ensure the ongoing security of the systems.  In addition, the devices are configured with LoJack for Laptops™ to facilitate recovery in the event of loss or theft.

The program was implemented at the beginning of 2011.  Usage and satisfaction data were collected before, during, and after a two-month evaluation period.   One of the data collection tools was a desktop pop-up survey. The survey was configured to ask a question about the laptop service, thereby both advertising the service and collecting data about user awareness of the service.

Findings suggest that advertising was successful in making users aware of the service, and that people who used the service were satisfied with it.  In general, people chose laptops instead of desktops because of the setting/location of use, portability, and comfort.

The initial role of the service will enhance and complement the access afforded by public desktops. The library will continue to operate the service and re-evaluate its role and scope as user awareness, experience, interest, and usage patterns evolve.

Michael Bell
Assistant Dean for Information Technology–River Campus Libraries
Assistant Director, Information Technology–Medical Libraries
University of Rochester

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