Opinion: The Main Library should extend laptop-charger loans

The principle of capitalizing off of students undermines University of Iowa’s library resources.


Maria Zimmerman

The University of Iowa Library is seen on Monday, June 17, 2019.

Becca Bright, Columnist

Forgetting or losing a laptop charger is more than groan-worthy. You finally sit down in your spot in the Main Library. Coffee? Check. Notebook? Got it. You open your laptop, but the screen remains dark. Having a charged personal laptop is almost unquestionably essential to accessing education and work.

Luckily, the library has laptops as well as chargers available for students to loan. According to the University of Iowa’s LibAnswers, the library has 50 laptops for check-out, including Mac and PC chargers, adapters, and HDMI cords. While that objectively is a great resource to have for students, it’s not entirely convenient.

For instance, to have a charger for my laptop, a MacBook Air, loaned from the library service desk, the loan time is only four hours. I can fully charge my laptop easily within that time frame, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am able to return or renew the charger by the time the loan is due. If a charger or laptop is returned late, no matter the reason, students will receive late fees. This is why loan times should be extended.

Every student’s schedule is different from day to day. Many have back-to-back classes or work shifts between lectures. Especially with the winter season approaching, students are more likely to fall sick during any given school day, and need to go home to rest. These things would make it difficult to hurry back to the library service desk to return a loaned tech item within a morning or afternoon. To place a late fee on a student is simply capitalizing off of that.

The UI can afford to provide more of these tech resources if need be, so that all students can afford to use them properly.

The capitalism of this concerns me, as it pushes me to question UI’s design in these resource plans for students. Students absolutely need a laptop or computer in order to be successful at the UI, including access to ICON, MyUI, their school email, and other essential functions. But with a busy schedule, students can’t exactly stay in the Main Library for long lengths of time to use the desktop computers available on the first and second floors. One should also keep in mind that some students’ chargers break or are stolen, and they are not able to afford to buy another right away.

Instead of charging students for late returns on short-term loans for tech items, the UI library services should extend loan times for all chargers and tech devices. This would give students more time and agency to make use of these resources and return them within a more realistic timeframe, thus avoiding overdue fees.

The UI can afford to provide more of these tech resources if need be, so that all students can afford to use them properly. Students are already having to pay immense tuition costs to pursue their education through classes.

It is without question that the UI should be able to freely provide the tools, especially needed items for personal tech devices, to the student body without any further financial expense. Extending loan times is a doable change that will not only better the benefits of UI library service resources for students, but the resources will then be recognized more as dependable and fully convenient.