Northwestern Library expands equipment borrowing to undergraduates


Josh Kaplan/The Daily Northwestern

Video production equipment can now be borrowed by undergraduate students from the circulation desk in University Library. Library administrators decided to expand their borrowing services after the service desk in Digital Collections was closed.

Allyson Chiu, Reporter

Undergraduate students can now borrow electronics, including video production equipment, from the Northwestern University Library.

After internal reorganization of library departments a few months ago, all electronics can now be borrowed by undergraduate students, in addition to graduate students and faculty members, through the circulation desk in Main Library, said Kurt Munson, acting head of access services in an email interview with The Daily.

“The service desk in digital collections was closed so the equipment had to be moved to a new location,” Munson said. “As part of normal ongoing review of services whenever a change is made, the decision was made to expand access to undergraduates.”

Although this service has been in use for several years, it originally targeted faculty members and was not promoted widely due to the limited amount of technology, said Clare Roccaforte, the director of library public relations. The equipment available for borrowing includes Canon hand-held video cameras, Sennheiser microphones, tripods and two Canon DSLR cameras.

“The equipment was probably purchased originally with the view for faculty support and things that faculty might be trying to produce for classrooms and the teaching environment,” Roccaforte said. “I don’t think I would say we purchased it with the Medill program or arts students in mind.”

Although the library has not made any additions to their collection, the equipment has been moved to a “much more visible place,” Roccaforte said.

According to NU Information Technology’s rental terms, students can borrow any equipment using their Wildcard for free and are allowed to have it for three days. The equipment is rented on a “first-come, first-serve” basis and can be renewed as long as there is no one on the waiting list. In the case of cameras, only one can be borrowed per person.  

By allowing access to this technology, students in media related classes have the opportunity to use high-quality equipment and produce better work, said Medill lecturer Katie Prentiss.

“It’s a great program,” said Prentiss, who teaches multimedia journalism. “It definitely makes more of an equal opportunity for all students on campus. Speaking from a Medill perspective, we’re all about students producing quality media. This helps students in class and outside class when they want to do their own projects.”

Communication junior Alye Miller, a Radio, Television and Film major, said having this service will give film students access to equipment outside the classroom for independent projects.

There is an equipment cage in John J. Louis Hall, which students who are involved in an RTVF class or a university-accredited production can access, but the equipment is not open to all NU students.

“It’s a great opportunity for students who are in RTVF and don’t have cage access or people who aren’t in RTVF and are interested in learning about film,” said Miller. “It gives them the opportunity to experiment and try their hand at something they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.”

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