Special Libraries Association

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Member Voice: Less Traditional Items Available for Loan

My name is Jamie Marie Keller-Aschenbach and I am the Head of Research and Access Services at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida. Part of my duties include overseeing the library’s circulation desk.

Libraries are synonymous with books and databases. Lately, libraries of things have popped up in public libraries. Oakland Public Library in California has a Tool Lending Library. Pima County Public Library in Arizona and Richmond Public Library in California both have seed libraries. New York Public Library is checking out wireless hotspots. And the Chelmsford Public Library in Massachusetts circulates a Roku and a telescope.

Inspired by these public libraries, I decided to network with other departments to offer our circulation expertise to them. The equipment is purchased and maintained by the other departments. The Library catalogs the equipment, checks it in and out, inspects the equipment for defects and completion of kits (e.g., power cords and remote controls with the projectors), and notifies the other department of any updates needed. We also supply the other department with end of the fiscal year circulation statistics.

Prior to taking over the circulation of equipment from other departments, AV and IT would get an equipment request and then have to coordinate getting the equipment to the user. By taking over the circulation process from them, we have been able to do this as part of our daily job duties without adding any effort. They also weren’t collecting usage statistics and now we are able to give them accurate statistics so they can show return on investment.

Some of the materials we circulate are:

AV Equipment

  • Headphones
  • Camcorders
  • Digital voice recorders
  • Projectors
  • Projection screens
  • Presentation remotes
  • Tripods
  • Digital cameras

IT Equipment

  • iPads
  • Laptops
  • Computer power cords

Non-traditional Library Materials

  • Continuing Legal Education CDs
  • Dry erase markers
  • Fans

What items do your users want?

Some of our materials are particularly unusual in an academic setting: projectors, fans, and dry erase markers come to mind. Our AV and IT equipment is heavily used, and we have added new types of equipment as users have requested new items.

In order to find what items will be successful for checkout, you must ask your users. Are there requests for certain types of items regularly? Have one or two people asked you for a power cord or laptop or presentation remote? If one or two ask, twenty want it. There is a need to be filled if you listen to your users.

Also talk to people in other departments. Do they currently lend items? How? Offer your services and expertise. Let them know that equipment is no different than books in getting the materials to the user. After all, books are what most people still associate with libraries and you can use this to your advantage to show your expertise.

Do you lend materials other than books? If so how does your library do it? Continue the conversation on by commenting on this post or on SLA Connect.

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