Technology on demand
Implementing loanable technology
services at the University of Illinois at
Jim Hahn, Lori Mestre, David Ward and Susan Avery
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the implementation process one
academic library used to create a loanable technology program to address student needs for multiple
technologies that support and facilitate assignments and other projects, including an increasing
number that are multimodal.
Design/methodology/approach – This is a case study utilizing focus groups and management
data to detail best practices for implementing and maintaining a loanable technology program.
Findings – Preliminary results indicate that this program provides value to students and
coursework, as well as justifying creating a budget line to support further program development.
Implementing a loanable technology program requires additional strategies for policies and
procedures related to acquisition, budget allocation, processing, cataloging, check-out, replacement,
and security of the equipment, as well as marketing the service. Findability and equitable student
access to loanable technology are also discussed.
Research limitations/implications – An extensive programmatic evaluation method has yet to be
put into place to assess the impact of this program. Suggestions for improvements in the program are
Practical implications – The process and strategies described in this paper can be replicated by
other institutions that are interested in creating a loanable technology program.
Originality/value – Although many institutions provide some loanable technology, there is little
written that documents decisions made that lead to a successful, robust, and sustainable program.
Keywords Academic libraries, Lending services, Information services, Multimedia
Paper type Case study
In their 2004 article, “Born with the chip”, Abram and Luther wrote that incoming
college students “will profoundly impact both library service and culture”. They
remarked that the new generation of college students entering academia have
experiences and expectations that differ signiﬁcantly from prior populations. These
students require a range of digital tools that are conﬁgurable to immediate needs and
hold the most relevance to the digital world they inhabit. They are often required to
present projects that include material in a format other than a word document.
Likewise, faculty increasingly expect multimodal projects that incorporate students’
Yet it is rarely feasible for each campus department to acquire all of the technology
needed to support those efforts or to require that each student purchase the equipment.
Libraries are uniquely situated to meet this expanded need for tools to aid content
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received 4 November 2010
Revised 10 November 2010
Accepted 24 November 2010
Library Hi Tech
Vol. 29 No. 1, 2011
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited