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Ohio Library System Introduces Ruggedized Laptop Checkout

The Guernsey County Public Library system will begin checking out six Chromebooks for patrons in good standing as a way to help families navigating coronavirus-related homeschooling efforts.

by Kristi R. Garabrandt, The Daily Jeffersonian / October 12, 2020

(TNS) — The Guernsey County Public Library system continues its effort to bring more technology to library patrons with the addition of Chromebooks.

On Oct. 1, the library started circulating six Chromebooks, two at each of the three branches.

The laptops can be checked out by an adult with a library card in good standing for a two-week period.

"At this time, when so many people are socially distancing, the library wanted to help however it could, so we made the decision to lend out these Chromebooks for people to use in their own homes," Luke Bentley, the library's assistant director, said.

The process for checking out of the Chromebooks will be similar to that of the hotspots. Each borrower will have to fill out and sign a lending agreement stating that the devices will be returned in good condition within the check-out period. If the equipment is not returned or is returned damaged, the borrower will be responsible for paying the replacement cost. The Chromebooks cannot leave the building with a borrower until the agreement has been signed, Bentley said.

According to Bentley, the Chromebooks purchased by the library are a little more costly than most of the Chromebooks people may see, but that is due to the library Chromebooks being ruggedized so they are ready for wear and tear. Bentley noted the library wanted to make sure that they got good solid devices for people to take out and take home and go back and forth.

"These are pretty darn sturdy for laptops," Bentley said, "They are a good model.

The purchase of the Chromebooks was funded by the library.

According to Bentley, the Chromebooks are something that the library felt they needed to do because of so many parents trying to educate their children at home, people working from home, and general connectivity issues.

"Right now, with the limits we have inside the library with people only being able to use the computers for 30 minutes at a time, it just seemed like a pretty reasonable investment for us to try to mitigate what is happening right now," Bentley said. "But also it's just another step toward not just creating connectivity for people but the ability to access the Internet in their homes."

The Chromebooks function as a laptop or as a tablet and each circulates with a hotspot because Chromebooks are cloud-based, so they require the Internet to function properly. The hotspots will have unlimited data use.

For patron privacy, nothing is saved on the Chromebooks. As long as the borrower signs out of the computer when they are finished using it, the computer will wipe itself clean of the user's viewing history.

"This is something we felt very passionate about trying to get going," Bentley said. "We are just looking forward to the future of the libraries. It's possible if COVID hadn't happened we might not have been so gung ho into it but right now it made perfect sense to us."

Bentley noted that the Chromebooks also made sense to the library because they are something that the library can control. If the borrower is late returning it to the library, staff members can deactivate it making is useless. The Chromebook will flash a message that it is overdue and turn off until returned.

"As we've done recently with our drones, Wonderbooks, Launchpads, and other items, we are always doing our best to look to the future as to what the needs of our community will be," Bentley said. "These Chromebooks definitely fit into our view of how libraries need to be moving forward: quickly adapting to community needs."

Chromebooks are available at all three library locations and can be placed on reserve either online or by calling any branch.

©2020 The Daily Jeffersonian, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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