(The GT Library Gadgets team from top to bottom: Justin Ellis, Andy Blakely, and Shandra Jones.)
By Justin Ellis
The Oxford Dictionary defines a Gadget as “a small mechanical or electronic device or tool, especially an ingenious or novel one.” The definition is similarly well suited for the Georgia Institute of Technology Library’s equipment lending service, Gadgets. Our team has explored novel and ingenious solutions for over fifteen years to meet the evolving needs of a growing community of campus creators, innovators, and builders.
The mission of the Gadgets service is to provide equitable access to multimedia equipment and pertinent subject expertise—through content and consultation—to serve the evolving needs of the Georgia Tech community. The service is a resource for the entire Georgia Tech community, offering equipment loans to all departments and disciplines. The service began as a partnership between the circulation department, supported by library leadership, and our in-house IT department, which supplied supplemental, technical, and financial support. Our program grew slowly and steadily for several years, initially with an ad-hoc style of resource acquisition and service modeled after our course reserves unit.
Over the years, our team has collaborated extensively with faculty members, subject librarians, and campus film groups. The Gadgets team members have years of experience in various A/V fields, and we work hard, through ongoing training and proactive planning, to stay current on the types of technologies students might need in the future.
We partner with our subject librarians, faculty members, and our Library Information Technology unit to leverage their respective areas of expertise. Our partnerships have fostered the integration of video capture devices, an expansive list of microphones and audio gear, editing tools, and virtual reality headsets into the circulating collection.
Today, we loan everything from lighting and green screen kits to specialized DSLR camera lenses and projector screens, but there is a method to our madness. We share and review our data with library leadership, the head of public services librarian, and the IT desktop support manager to assess funding options and sources. We work through library and campus channels for review, approval, and ongoing accountability.
In 2021, the Library opened professional-level audio and video recording studios for student and staff/faculty use. Service Manager Shandra Jones, a technologist with twenty years of professional film and audio production experience, is leading the team into what will prove to be our most ambitious service offering yet, Gadgets Pro. Starting in Spring 2023, “power users” can request and use professional-grade tools. Whether the deliverable is a 4K resolution video, a multi-track audio recording, or a live stream broadcast, the sky is the limit.
Our service has grown and succeeded thanks to the willingness of our mentors, leaders, and subject matter experts to offer ongoing expertise, feedback, and support. Our mission, like yours, is to serve our users and provide tangible returns on our investments, fostering fair access to the tools our users need to imagine, innovate, and create. Does your library lend equipment? We would love to hear about your experiences. Please reach out if you would like to learn more about our journey!
Photo of Justin Ellis by Shandra Jones
Photo of Andy Blakely by Michelle Blakely
Photo of Shandra Jones by Oscar Daniel II