Library struggling to keep up with demand for laptop use

By Jessica Vitullo and Calvin Dao

Loaned-out laptops are in high demand among Ryerson students who take advantage of the school’s mobile learning tools, results from a recent online survey suggest.

More than 87 per cent of the survey’s respondents said laptops are the tool they most need for their academic endeavours. According to Weina Wang, Ryerson’s borrowing and lending services system librarian, the library is struggling to keep up with the demand.

“Every day, one laptop is checked out twice every day for 365 days, including on the weekends and holidays,” Wang said.

Library-loaned iPads were listed as the second most requested gadget. More than 1,500 students responded to the survey, which ran from Sept. 27 to Oct. 18.

Students can borrow the laptops, which are part of Ryerson’s Mobile Learning Initiatives program, for four hours at a time — but the  laptops’ popularity means they run out quickly.

“(A loan) allows students to take the laptop to go study anywhere they want and they can choose a quieter space, they can go somewhere with a comfortable chair,” Wang said.

“It (offers) flexibility and also privacy.”

According to a report released in April, Ryerson’s 2013-14 budget will face a one per cent reduction in base operating grants. This could leave the library with little opportunity to prioritize student access to laptops and iPads.

In 2012-13, the library allocated 85 per cent of its budget, or more than $3 million, to electronic resources, such as subscriptions to academic journal databases and websites. Electronic resources swallowed 71 per cent of its budget in 2011-12.

Wang hopes the survey’s results will help raise awareness about the need to expand the library’s pool of technological equipment.

“Basically, the demand is really high and to be honest, even with the 120 (laptops) with high frequency of circulation, it really requires a lot of work for the staff here to maintain this program,” she said

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