San Jose State University (SJSU) chose connect2 equipment checkout software for their Academic Technology loan service. The intuitive software, easy implementation, and a responsive and friendly support service have all contributed to a great experience for the University. This case study reports on how they’ve used connect2 and how it has supported and enhanced their services.
Darlene Bargas, Manager for Instructional and Meeting Spaces at SJSU, spoke with Lorensbergs about their operation both before and after the introduction of connect2.
The equipment lending operation in the Academic Technology department at SJSU covers a wide range of items for staff and students’ use. It can be used for all academic purposes including presentations and student assignments. Items include cameras, laptops, speakers, lights and stands, adapters, projectors and screens, pointers, microphones, voice recorders, DVD and blu-ray players, and video cameras. VR kits are also available for staff to checkout for their classes and some rooms are also bookable.
Previously, a library system was used for managing loans of equipment but it didn’t have sufficient capability or reporting to meet the busy demands of the department.
“We wanted something that was more user-friendly and that could help us manage and maintain the inventory that we house here. Online booking functionality was also very important to have in a new system,” explains Darlene.
Introducing online bookings would align with the University’s aims to realise opportunities for automation for a better supported campus community. It would be a vast improvement on the old system of students making special trips in to reserve items, or staff taking phone enquiries and recording reservations on a paper based system.
Automation around communications also required improvement, with students needing more detailed equipment loan notifications so they knew what items to return and when.
Pictured: Instructional Resources Center at SJSU
Getting started with connect2
“We learned of another University that was already utilizing connect2 software for equipment checkout, so we reached out to them for a demo and recommendation”, explains Darlene. “The demo was great and we were extremely pleased to see how easy the software is to use and how the interface looked. We felt that students would easily be able to make their own bookings. It’s very visual which really helps users’ confidence in finding and booking the right items.”
Connect2 roll out proceeded smoothly at SJSU with Lorensbergs providing support on setting up the system and giving training.
“The system set up and training was very easy and any questions we had were answered quickly,” comments Darlene, “Anytime we’ve needed to contact anyone for support, they’ve been very responsive and easy to work with. We’ve found that connect2 software is very intuitive.”
“Connect2 is integrated with our Active Directory, so when students began booking items, they just login with their University credentials. This makes access easy – it’s been so wonderful.”
The simple access that comes with the Active Directory connection means there is no password administration for staff to manage. It also helps ensure rapid adoption of the software by users, as there’s no registration process or additional passwords to remember.
Supporting students with easy equipment access
“Students much prefer using connect2 as they can reserve items at their convenience and not just during store hours. It’s available 24/7 to make or cancel bookings using their mobile phone, tablet or laptop – it’s very easy for them to do this.
“Connect2 is great because you can just go online and book what you need. Then when you come in to pick it up, the equipment is all reserved and ready to go. There’s no more filling out paper forms or signatures needed.
Pictured: Connect2 equipment reservation portal homepage at SJSU
“Now any SJSU member can book what they need, whether they’re on campus, at home or in a remote location. They need to come in with their ID to pick up the equipment, but that’s all. It saves everyone a lot of time.”
The team are also benefiting from using connect2 for improved communications with students:
“The automated communications are great. Typically our customers will receive an email when they book or return something. Connect2 notifies them an hour before items are due back. If someone is late and is restricted from further borrowing, they also receive a notification. We can adjust notifications as we see fit which is very helpful and accommodating.”
Helping resources to stretch further
In addition to the notifications, the information provided by connect2 and the way it applies borrowing rules has greatly improved resource circulation and availability.
“Since introducing connect2, we have seen a significant reduction of overdue item returns. And if someone fails to return an item, or breaks or loses it, we can automatically restrict that person from further borrowing, which is a great feature.
“This is really important as some items, such as our DSLR cameras, are limited in quantity and high in demand, so students really must return them on time. They’re expensive items that not many students can afford, so it’s important that everyone has an opportunity to borrow them for their projects. With connect2 borrowing rules and restrictions in place, it means that these resources now stretch further.
“We really like the fact that we can provide useful information and links on the homepage of the equipment loaning site. It has allowed us to include information regarding our loan policy, so that our customers know what to expect from the start when they borrow items. As everyone is aware of the policy and most students are very cooperative, our lost and late item returns have really decreased.
“We’re also looking at using the penalty/fines capability in connect2 for late fees, and may introduce this as part of our policy to cover lost and broken items. This will really help us replenish lost items and maintain our stock levels.”
Connect2 advantages for staff
“We have a number of student workers assisting with equipment checkout. Connect2 makes it easier for them to learn how to book and checkout equipment and complete our other loaning processes. With customers making their own bookings online, this also saves them a lot of time.
“The dashboard is easily accessible for staff to track equipment, what’s in and what’s out. Connect2 gives them a list of equipment checked out per each customer, so upon return, they can verify all items are there. Sometimes multiple items are checked out at a time, so it’s very helpful to see a clear list of items and the process is faster by allowing for barcodes to be quickly scanned in the system.
“If customers are late making returns, it’s our routine every morning to look through the list in connect2 and contact each one. It makes it both easier for staff to see what’s late, simply by looking at the connect2 dashboard, and then to see the contact information for following up with the customer
"Our faculty have also given us some good feedback on connect2 and tell us it’s easy to use. They’re able to go online and search our inventory for themselves to find what they need, or browse to see what type of equipment is available. Inventory is listed and searchable in clearly defined categories.”
Reporting and inventory management
Connect2 makes it very easy to find the resources required and review useful data on them. It supports maintaining sufficient stock for a better loan service.
“With the data in connect2 you can review your inventory and see what extra items need to be added – in this way connect2 justifies increasing our resources. For high ticket items, like cameras, it can show how many times students weren’t able to check them out due to other students failing to return them on time.
“We use reports for booking details and summaries, inventory reports, resource usage by category, which items are late returned and by who, and user suspensions. With this data we ensure our store is well maintained. It also supports new equipment purchases, as we can show by how much we need to increase our inventory. This has already enabled us to purchase additional cameras.
“In the resources area of connect2, it’s easy to group or ungroup items together. So for example with our laptops grouped together, I can see right away how many we have and whether they are MAC or PC. We can see the quantity available and their status – how many are operational, broken, lost or stolen etc – it shows you right there. It is easy to determine our inventory levels such as, how many are in repair, and how many might need replacing.”
“We’ve come a long way from a time when the students would have to physically be present just to reserve items. It wasn’t possible to do so from a remote location. At times it would cause quite a long line to form. But now our customers are just able to go online and book everything themselves. We’re better resourced, save a lot of paper, and everyone likes using the software. We’re very happy with connect2.”
With thanks to Darlene Bargas at San Jose State University.