Change to (some) Equipment check-ins

Hey everyone. This is moderately big news. Effectively immediately, Circ supervisors will be taking over the role of checking in all equipment which contains more than one piece. As you all know, there’s one barcode per item of equipment, but an item may have multiple pieces (e.g. power adapters and firewire cables with the firewire drives). What does this mean for you? Read on.

for students: when equipment gets returned to the Circ Desk and has more than one piece to it (e.g. a camcorder but not a digital voice recorder), bring the equipment over to the media drawers, to the right of Steve’s desk. Leave the equipment piled on top of the drawers. That’s it. For things with one piece, like the digital voice recorders, check them in and put them away as usual.

for supervisors: periodically, at least twice during your shift at Main, go to the media drawers and use the PC there to check-in the equipment. If it’s something that runs on rechargeable batteries, plug in the recharger. Pack it away at the end of your shift – don’t leave charging batteries for the next supervisor. A handy collection of laminated green cards will show you how many pieces belong to each item of equipment. If an item doesn’t include all the pieces that should be there, don’t check it in, but email the patron who didn’t return all the pieces (copy Lib Circ) and leave the equipment on Steve’s desk with a note of what’s missing. For camcorders, digital cameras, firewire drives, and Mac faculty/staff laptops, remember to access and delete all data before reshelving.

Why are we doing this? 1, there are concerns about our error rate at checking in equipment. 2, it’s unlikely that in this economic climate we’ll be able to increase our equipment or replace everything that goes missing, so we need to take better care of the equipment we have. 3, our committment to patrons’ privacy means that we need to make sure personal files are getting deleted from our equipment. Our track record so far is spotty at best.

Any questions, post a comment or talk with me directly. Thanks for your help with this.

4 Responses

  1. Thanks for the update, Steve.

    A couple of questions:

    1. What happens if someone returns an overdue equipment and wants to check a different item out? Is the supervisor supposed to stop what they are doing and check the equipment in?

    2. For high-traffic items, won’t it be a detriment to our users if things equipment is sitting unused waiting to be checked-in?

    And lastly, a comment/question: Why is it our responsibility to remove patron data from equipment? We don’t leaf through every book looking for personal correspondence or photographs that might have been left in there.

  2. Does this policy include the branches? If so, that would mean no one can return multiple-item equipment to branch libraries in the evenings (5pm-close) and on weekends.

  3. Thanks for the questions, you two!

    In answer to you first question, Dan, well… yes. As supervisors we’re used to dropping what we’re working on to pitch in on the front end; this is another example of that. During most days of the week, we’ve got more than one supervisor at Main Circ to share the load of this. On some days and most evenings, there’s only one supervisor on duty and this will impact them a little more.

    For high-traffic items, I would say a balance needs to be found between our checking in equipment in a timely way and our borrowers remembering that we, like most other departments in LIS and on campus, are working with reduced staff. Sometimes service will be a little slower as a result. We’ll do the best we can.

    And Jess, you’re exactly right that this policy is for Main only, not the branches. Sorry I wasn’t clearer on that in the original post. It wouldn’t make sense to implement this policy at the branches since there’s not a supervisor present at all times the branches are open.

  4. These are good questions and concerns.
    Why would this procedure be for Main only? The consistency of borrowing procedures and policies across the branches is an important consideration. The issue at stake is reducing the rate of pieces of equipment kits that go missing. How can we work together to reduce error rates for missing (and expensive) equipment parts? If there is a part missing, then that piece of equipment has to be pulled out of circulation, reducing our loaner pool even more. A ‘kit’ checked in without all parts is no longer available for borrowing. Borrowers with an overdue item on their account should be referred to the next available Circ supervisor. Obviously we would want to check the item in as soon as possible after return. Branch student staff have a Main supervisor as back-up at all times, should the equipment be needed by another borrower. I agree that it could be problematic to have equipment sitting overnight without getting checked in. Can student employees at the branches have a little extra training? There is personal responsibility for deleting/removing sensitive and confidential information from laptops and firewire drives, but at the same time Circ has a responsibility to ensure the best possible condition for the next borrower whether the material is a books, video, DVD or a piece of equipment. And yes – you are supposed to check the condition of returned books as well. 🙂

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