University Libraries launches semester-long technology lending program
University Libraries at Virginia Tech is partnering with Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) to launch a semester-long technology lending program for the 2023-24 academic year. This initiative provides faculty, staff, and students access to cutting-edge equipment for research, teaching, and collaborative projects free of charge.
Under this program, individuals will describe their university affiliation, project details, and equipment they need in the request form. Available equipment includes high-end computers, 3D printers, DSLR cameras, 360 cameras, VR headsets, eye-tracking equipment, iPads, and more.
“Being able to provide this equipment to students so they can pursue whatever project they want is incredibly valuable to us and something that we think is important. We want to make sure that every student who comes here has an opportunity regardless of their financial situation or economic status,” said Alice Rogers, University Libraries’ manager of Studios Media and Lending Services.
This program marks an important step toward creating an inclusive and supportive academic environment by offering recipients access to equipment that they may not be able to get otherwise.
“University Libraries is taking an active role in lending technology to people on campus. Some departments will lend to their specific unit, and some may lend a little more broadly based on different factors. But the Studios Technology Lending Desk is the kind of center that loans to all students, all faculty, and all staff,” Rogers said.
In the past, the Studios Technology Lending Desk has only offered a week-long lending service. The seven-day timespan created challenges for patrons borrowing equipment that is more difficult to use and for those needing equipment for an extended amount of time to complete a project.
University Libraries hopes that running the semester-long lending service in tandem with the week-long option will meet the demands of the university community.
“Long-term lending allows us to meet a demand that we’ve previously been unable to meet. People have come up to us and said, ‘This isn’t enough time. Is there a way for me to have more time with this equipment?’ I think that this will help us support a lot more of the research and teaching projects that have been a challenge for us to meet in the past,” said Jonathan Bradley, assistant director of learning environments and innovative technologies at University Libraries.
For the program's pilot year, equipment will be limited, which may lead to demand exceeding supply. If the number of requests surpasses the available inventory, a weighted random lottery will be conducted to determine equipment recipients. This lottery system will give preference to patrons requesting the equipment for teaching or research projects, or for uses involving a library or TLOS partnership.
All Virginia Tech campuses' students, faculty, and staff are eligible for this program. Interested individuals are encouraged to submit their equipment requests by Aug. 9.