Alternative Lending In College Libraries

College libraries are starting to circulate interesting technology as an alternative lending scheme. Alternative lending is not a new phenomena as libraries continue to transition from print to digital and have more space at their disposal. With alternative lending, libraries are also trying to reach a wider patron base.

I have blogged about alternative lending here, here, and here. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently posted about college libraries and alternative lending. Georgia Institute of Technology has a "program at the library that lets students and professors check out a growing catalog of computers, cameras, and other electronics—a selection more akin to a Best Buy store than a lending library."

CHE goes on to offer a few of the more unique tech items that "[c]olleges and universities across the country now lend ... in addition to books":

• Drones. Colgate University’s library is among several around the country that offer what are known as 'drone loan' programs. Students and professors can check out a remote-controlled 'quadcopter' equipped with a camera that can beam back video to a computer.

• Google Glass. A few college libraries have managed to get their hands on the gadgets and make them available for checkout. North Carolina State University is among them, though an announcement on its website notes that, at first, only 'selected faculty and graduate students with an urgent research need for the technology' may borrow the device.

• iPhone power cords (and other chargers). Drones and wearables are trendy, but a popular item for checkout at some college libraries is the mundane power cord. Georgia Tech offers a range of chargers for students who need to power up their smartphones.

These are just a few more items in a growing list of alternative lending trends. We have seen things such as therapy dogs, umbrellas, frisbees, and many more handy items available for check out. Libraries are in the business of meeting patron demand, and these alternative lending items are just another way for a library to offer impressive service to its patron base.


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