Going Mobile: Laptop Lending in an Academic Medical Library
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PROGRAM OBJECTIVE: As part of a Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund grant, the Information Desk, the library's unified public service point, developed and implemented a laptop lending program to provide more options and flexibility to our clients' information-gathering efforts. SETTING: Academic medical library serving more than 19,000 primary clients in an urban location. Participants: Faculty, staff, and students of the medical center and its affiliated institutions. PROGRAM: A total of twelve laptops were initially made available as part of the lending program. Eight laptops were available at the main library, and four were at the smaller, research-support library. Each laptop came equipped with a battery pack (providing up to three hours of work time when fully charged) and a CD-ROM drive. The following accessories were also provided to clients at checkout: laptop case, power cord, 3.5" floppy drive, a connector cable for the floppy drive, and an instruction sheet. The program was initially promoted through articles in email and print newsletters, posters, and PowerPoint slides shown on the library's new marketing kiosk using an Iomega Fotoshow device. MAIN RESULTS: Checkout statistics will be used as the primary indicator of the program's success. Preliminary results indicate that use of the laptops is increasing. More laptops have been purchased to meet increasing demand. An evaluation survey will also be administered to laptop users to determine what is most used. CONCLUSION: The initial setup of the laptops involved defining a list of basic programs to offer and developing a method to easily "clone" the basic setup to each laptop. Ongoing issues include developing a schedule for laptop maintenance (e.g., virus scanning software and updates, operating system integrity, recloning the basic setup periodically, etc.) and providing access to the campus wireless network.