Imagine if picking up a laptop on the go were as easy as grabbing a snack. Thanks to an investment from Vanguard, it is – and it’s free! With a swipe of a library card, customers can borrow a chromebook or laptop for up to four hours at the West Boulevard Library.
The new unit is the system’s second laptop vending machine. The first was installed at Morrison Regional last year, and those devices are used regularly. Librarian Ed McDonald observes, “some of our customers rely on them. High school students use them for homework and group study, and they’re very useful when we have a class in the computer lab. Many people tell us they appreciate that they can bring the devices anywhere in the building – even the patio. It’s all part of creating the environment you need at your Library.”
A group of Vanguard employees dropped by West Boulevard to see the new machine and Seth Ervin, the Library’s Chief Innovation Officer, explained its highlights. “We selected this particular machine for its flexibility. For now we have chromebooks similar to the ones students use in school, and Windows laptops with software we teach in DigiLit and other courses. We can experiment with different types of devices, to see what customers in each location request and prefer. It’s also easily expandable, and simple to use.” So far, staff and customers seem happy. “It’s particularly helpful in a smaller, neighborhood location like this one,” Ervin continues. “The computer lab here is used heavily for classes and programs, and these devices provide an alternative when the lab is in use.”
Funding for the new vending machine is from the Vanguard Hometown Grants program, which provides community grants to nonprofit agencies in the communities near and around where Vanguard operates. Funded by the Vanguard Group Foundation, the program is run by local Investment Committees made up of crew (employee) volunteers, who select and vet the giving strategies. Vanguard Hometown Grants Program currently operates out of Vanguard’s Greater Philadelphia, Greater Charlotte, and Greater Phoenix offices.