ECC Library Halts Laptop Loans Temporarily

The El Camino College library temporarily stopped its distribution of laptop and Wi-Fi devices because not many requests are being submitted to the program.

Although this won’t last for the whole semester, the staff is taking a break from coming into the library to also minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

“But of course, if we get more requests, people are going to get their devices,” Camila Jenkin, outreach librarian, said.

The Laptop Loan & Internet Hotspot Program is where students can sign up to request a laptop and internet hotspot so long as they have completed either their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act.

Students must go to the campus library to pick up their devices.

Crystle Martin, dean of library and learning resources, said the program is on a “first come, first served” basis.

“We’re really excited to provide this service to students,” Martin said.

The program had already been established before the pandemic and over time it would grow because of it.

“As a library, where our emphasis is on letting students borrow things without cost, without paying, without cutting those barriers in place, everything we lend out is not for a fee,” Jenkin said. “We don’t rent anything, we only let students borrow it.”

In Aug. 2020, the library used funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to purchase 1,500 Dell laptops of which 941 were distributed and 550 remain. They also purchased 2,000 Sprint Wi-Fi hotspots of which 659 were distributed and 1,350 remain.

If a student plans to return to ECC for the next semester, the library will automatically renew their device loan.

“The laptops come factory standard so students can install any software they need on them which is a huge benefit,” Martin said.

The library used to distribute Chromebooks but they’ve stopped that as soon as the Dell laptops came in because Chromebooks could only operate the browser version of programs that can’t be downloaded.

“If you need the Adobe Suite or if you needed a statistical software, things like that, it puts limitations on what the students could use them for,” Martin said.

There are other laptops that the library has purchased like Surface Go, a Windows laptop with a detachable keyboard and tablet.

This laptop is distributed specifically to students under the South Bay Promise (SBP) program, where students are immediately enrolled to ECC coming out of high school and are full-time at the campus.

According to Andrea Sala, executive director of the ECC Foundation, the foundation has purchased about $200,000 worth of laptops.

“We have 300 [Surface Go’s] and for the SBP program that seems to be sufficient right now, so we’ll see what happens,” Sala said. “As the program grows and expands, we might have to buy more.”