Case Study

Smart Locker Q&As with Holy Cross College

Denise Crouch

Denise Crouch

Holy Cross College, situated in Bury, Greater Manchester is a highly regarded centre for A Levels, Vocational and Higher Education qualifications. In 2020, the college implemented the Diplomat™ Pro Smart Locker into its infrastructure.

Here we caught up with the College’s Head of Library, Jaqueline Ponka, to discuss how they chose the Diplomat™ Smart Locker and why they chose LapSafe®.

What was your original setup for loaning devices to students?

We had 20 laptops that were held in a cabinet behind the desk here in the library, and we manually issued them out to students. They were very popular, and it ended up being a very physical job as we were constantly issuing, returning, issuing, returning. There always had to be two of us at the desk because it was so busy. If we left the desk to help a student there would soon be a queue of students with laptops waiting when we returned. Manually loaning out the laptops led to constant interruptions; it was extremely time-consuming and physically demanding to do manually but that was how we operated for around eight years.

Why did you choose LapSafe® for your Smart Lockers?

Our IT Manager attended BETT the year before and he had some LapSafe® brochures, he had looked at the Diplomat™ Smart Locker at the time. He said it looked like a really good product and it would integrate with our Heritage LMS (Library Management System), it seemed to do everything we wanted.

Once we had the financial go-ahead, I asked LapSafe® if they had a Diplomat™ unit nearby that I could see working, preferably a sixth form or a small FE college rather than a big university as we are very different, and they suggested Oldham Sixth Form College. I went to have a look and Corinne who runs the library there was very positive about the system. She was in fact talking about expanding their self-service further into the library itself which I thought was a really positive thing. Corinne was very complimentary about the Diplomat™ Smart Locker and I liked the look of it myself.

They must have realised very early on that I didn’t know much about the technical side, but they were always ready to answer any of my questions, however, silly I thought they seemed. I ended up getting quotes from LapSafe® and another company. I think the LapSafe® quote was initially more expensive but the support package and the annual fee worked out far better.

When I was asked which one I would like to go with I said the company that wants our business is LapSafe®. The initial support from LapSafe® was excellent plus the unit had everything we wanted. It connected with our LMS and ticked every box, even as far as its eco-green credentials, as it stops charging when the laptops are fully charged so it doesn’t waste energy.”

How was the service from order to delivery?

It was really very good and was fitted and installed within the time scale we required. We were quite happy to wait for half term but were offered an earlier date which suited us very well. I had been told how long it would take from order to delivery and in fact, we were offered to have it installed a little earlier as it was ready. I did worry because we were on the top floor, but I needn’t have, it was all confirmed and organised well. The two men who came and installed the unit in the library were lovely, very helpful, polite, friendly, and got on with it. They tidied up after themselves and were very efficient. They arrived at 10 am and had finished just after lunch. Almost immediately I was at the library desk and thought it was strange that it had been such a quiet day, but it was because we were not being asked for laptops anymore. We had more time to actually complete our work. We all said very quickly the difference it made to all of us, we had more time to spend with students”.

Will you expand your Smart Lockers in the future?

We are budgeting to add an additional tower soon and certainly would like to have more laptops available. The students would be very happy to have them. We have space for another two towers as I made sure I had room on both sides for extra towers when it was installed.

Do you have any advice for other colleges considering Smart Lockers?

Do it! I think the main advice is just to do it if you can, it makes life so much easier. Talk to librarians in other colleges and if you can, see it in action at a college. Talk to someone you trust in the same position as you, it helps. If you are setting it up from scratch and you don’t loan out laptops already, I would say go for it straight away, rather than the route we took of manual loaning which is hard work. Think about where it is going to be placed in case it gets a little noisy as the students chat with each other while using it. Make sure you have space for expansion as it will be popular, and the students will always want more laptops. We would be very happy to welcome colleges nearby to come and see it working here. The laptops we use here currently are Lenovo.

Have you needed any customer support?

Yes, we have; it went off the weekend after it was installed which confused us. I emailed straight away and got a reply instantly and they told us what to do so it didn’t impact the students at all. Matthew and James from Support always get back to us so quickly, and their response is great. Generally, though, it runs brilliantly and doesn’t cause any problems at all.

Would you recommend LapSafe® to others?

I have been very happy with it and would recommend LapSafe® to others. It is a great company to work with and knowing that it is designed, manufactured, and supported here in the UK, is really good. The workmanship shows through in the quality of the products they supply.

Diplomat™ Smart Locker in Holy Cross College Library

Diplomat™ Smart Locker in Holy Cross College Library

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