Harper library runs out of free rentable laptops


Librarian William Pankey points at empty shelves because Harper students have rented out all of the free available laptops as of February 21st, 2020. Photo by Vicki Land.

The Spring 2020 semester marks the beginning of a new program that would allow Harper students to rent laptops and calculators to use for the whole semester. This semester loan is completely free and students can take the devices off-campus.

According to Melissa Merlos, Circulation Supervisor and Adjunct Librarian, this new program was developed to “improve equity in technology access” for students that can’t afford a computer and don’t have access to one at home.

Harper has ordered 40 more laptops to help meet the demands of students. Students can go directly to the circulation desk and rent out a laptop for the whole semester as of spring 2020. Photo by Vicki Land.

To check out a laptop, students can go to one of the library desks and ask if any are available. A student wanting to check one out must provide their Harper ID and be currently enrolled in at least one class. Merlos added, “they also must not have any outstanding fines, overdue materials, or have a hold on their account.”

The library acquired 60 Chromebooks before spring semester started, but currently, all 60 have been checked out. The library has ordered 40 more that will be available soon this semester.

There are still plenty of TI34 Plus CE calculators available for students to use too.

Merlos emphasized that the laptops and calculators are “first come, first serve for all students,” but explicit information about the program has not been published to the library website or Harper’s main web page. She explained that the program is specifically for students with the greatest financial and technology needs, so the library sent out targeted emails about the opportunity to students in those situations.

“It’s great for students that have jobs or other responsibilities who can’t stay at school to use the computer labs,” said Stephen Jordan, a library employee and University Center student. “I hope we can get more since we’re running pretty low on available laptops.”

Merlos assured that the library is trying to order more Chromebooks so they can expand the program to more students. She said that they need to get more feedback from students to determine whether or not the program has been successful before they order more.

“We applied for a grant to order the computers last year and got approved for the funding over winter break,” Merlos explained.  The library faculty hurried to get everything together during the end of December and the beginning of January to have the laptops and calculators ready before spring semester started.

If students have more questions about laptop or calculator loans, they can ask any library faculty or employee.