We have been running a digital lending library at Govan Housing Association for almost three years and have found that it is a brilliant way to reduce barriers to digital participation. To date our library consists of 22 iPad, 15 laptops, 3 Digital SLR Cameras, Audio Recording Equipment and a Community Cinema Kit. It has been a very popular service and we would like to share some of our learning from it with these 6 top tips!
- Start small! You do not need to buy lots of devices (at least not right away!), start by offering a few devices out and build your confidence with them. It also provides a great proof of concep should you want to start investing in tech.
- Do not get the top of the range tech! Consider getting devices at a reasonable price point that are attainable to your lending library customers. Many of our users just want to try a device before they consider buying one. You wouldn’t want people to fall in love with a device that they can never afford to buy for themselves!
- Offer one-to-one training and regular contact. This works differently for every user, but we have found that offering an introductory session showing people round the device and then offering follow up sessions every 2 weeks has really helped. People can follow up with questions and issues they have had over the time using the device and you get to check on its condition etc.
- Mobile Device Management (MDM) Tools can save time! Managing lots of devices can be time consuming if you are trying to coordinate, update or set up more than one at a time. There are loads of great programmes for this; we really like Apple Configurator and JAMF.
- Support other organisations! Once you are established and confident, consider opening your library to community groups. Other organisations in your area might like to offer digital workshops or provision but potentially cannot afford the tech. A lending library is a great way to support partner organisations and widen digital access.
- Digital Lending Library and classes work brilliant together! If you are offering regular digital skills classes, giving learners the option to take a device home can be a brilliant way to encourage meaningful learning. They can practice what they’ve learnt at home, they can explore on their own and they can come in on following sessions with questions from their weeks use.
I hope these top tips have been useful! If you would like to know more or have any more questions, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow our work on Twitter @movinggovanfwd and @justroryb.