Bell Library Debuts New Laptop Checkout Program Following 25K Grant

By Olivia Santos | Published: March 23, 2021

Bell Library Debuts New Laptop Checkout Program Following 25K Grant

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Mary and Jeff Bell Library has launched a new digital resource – a laptop checkout program – for Islander students following $25,000 from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission CARES Grant. The grant’s focus is to decrease gaps in digital equity.

“The library is excited to offer this additional resource for students, especially during a time where there are a variety of instructional methods,” Risha Dulip, Bell Library business manager and primary investigator on the grant, said.

The laptop program includes a checkout kiosk on each floor of the library, housing 12 laptops per kiosk. The service, free to students, allows Islanders with a valid Islander ID to checkout laptops for three hours at a time.

“Every student needs access to technology in order to access classes, schoolwork, and meet up with students or professors through video chat – but not everyone has a laptop,” said Cassandra Martinez-Lopez, accounting major. “I’ve sometimes forgotten my laptop at home, but I didn’t have time to go back home to pick it up. Having access to this digital resource will be convenient for instances like that.”

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the library implemented many new protocols and programs to remain safe and operative including curbside checkout, online instruction sessions, and virtual research assistance. The new laptop kiosks will add an additional resource while encouraging social distancing between students and library staff.

“A fundamental goal for Bell Library is to decrease equity gaps for our students and to democratize access to technology, an essential tool for knowledge discovery and creation,” Dr. Cate Rudowsky, dean of libraries, said. “The TSLAC CARES Act grant and the support we received from CASA’s Title V Project GRAD grant support these efforts and increase access to technology for our students. The TAMU-CC community will benefit through expanded access to laptops in a self-service capacity that we hope to grow and expand in the future.”

Along with A&M-Corpus Christi, 37 other libraries across the state also received grants through the TSLAC program. Funding will also be used to provide technical support, specifically for workforce development and broadband availability.

“Having a device with internet is one of the most important things you need as a student to have academic success,” Martinez-Lopez said. “By investing in student needs, the library is showing they care and have our success in mind.”

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission received the funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support libraries in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.  In March, Congress provided the federal agency a total of $50 million in the CARES Act to distribute to states and territories.