The University of Sussex is a leading research university that has around 14,000 students. Situated near Brighton, in the South of England, Sussex was the first of the new wave of UK universities founded in the 1960s, receiving its Royal Charter in 1961.
Based upon a student feedback survey, students requested more computers to be made available in the university library, but at the same time students requested that they wanted more desk space. This prompted the decision to look for an automated laptop loan system which would enable the desks to be kept free and more devices to be readily available.
The key decision makers in this process were the university’s Library and IT Services team. David Guest, Senior Information Delivery Manager said “We thought, long and hard about what service to introduce and what devices to loan to students and eventually we chose to loan Chromebooks because they are much easier to manage, centrally”.
To gain a better understanding of how the service would work the universities’ Library and IT Services team spoke to several other universities that had already installed the Diplomat™LMS about their experience, and the feedback they received was both positive and informative.
David explains “The sales process went smoothly, LapSafe® were always available to answer our questions. Once we had made our decision to order, it took a little longer than we had initially anticipated to get from order to installation, mainly due to our understanding of the process, and that we ordered during the summer period which was LapSafe®’s busiest time of year. However, all in all, the service we received was excellent and the installation was very smooth. Both the staff and the students here at Sussex University love the service. Students love the convenience of being able to use the devices wherever they are in the library, and they now ask for more of this service”.
David continued that “One of the best things we like about this product is the charging, we chose LapSafe®’s SmartLine™ which means that the devices do not need to charge using their AC adaptors and the charging is built in. We have a small amount of Chromebooks, and they are turned around really quickly but even when a student has used a device for several hours, they are charged up again very quickly once returned and ready for the next user. That’s where it has worked really well, day in and day out for the last year without any problems at all. One of the beauties of the service is that it integrates to the university’s existing library management system, which means that when we need to run reports on how the laptop service is being used, all the reports already exist as part of the LMS. It also means there is little training required for the library staff”. (The university uses Alma, by Ex Libris, Library Management System).
On average the library turnarounds about 400 Chromebook loans per week or 1600 loans per month and given that they only have a 24 bay Diplomat™LMS loaning out 24 devices, you can see just how popular this system is. What’s more, the library is open 24 hours a day, and at busy times of the day, this system supports itself without taking up value staff time.
The university had already taken the decision to double the number of Chromebooks loaned in the Library over the coming weeks and in fact the next Diplomat™LMS was already installed and pending connection. The university plans to extend this service into other parts of the campus in the future.
David concluded ‘We found it very useful talking to other users of the service, and found it really helpful to get a little bit of feedback about the kind of issues that they faced and what had worked well for them. There is also no real substitute for a real, live demo, so when we saw the service in action at an industry event, it really told us what we needed to know and how the service could work for us. There are always going to be issues introducing this type of facility but LapSafe® have been very quick to help us, sorting out any problems very efficiently”.