- A popular notebook computer checkout program at The University
of Southern Mississippi's Cook Library has begun garnering national
attention as part of a new marketing effort by Dell Computers.
features Cook's head of electronic services Barton Spencer, who
devised the "Cook 'book" notebook checkout program. Spencer's
likeness - along with praise for the library's efforts - has been
included in mailouts Dell is sending libraries across the country.
the Cook 'book program are also featured on a company Web site created
to promote the use of computer technology in libraries.
'book" program has allowed students to check out Dell notebook
computers for use anywhere in the library since 2001. Recently,
the library made overnight checkouts available as well through the
"Night Owl" program. The computers are equipped with wireless
access to the campus network, as well as several popular software
packages, making them ideal tools for both research and the completion
Late last year
Spencer gave a presentation on the program at the LITA (Library
and Information Technology) conference in Houston. And that's where
he and the Cook 'book program were discovered. Dell representatives
in the audience heard Spencer's presentation, and soon after plans
were in the works to include him and the Cook 'book program in their
new marketing efforts.
funny, because apparently they were batting my name around at Dell
for months," Spencer said. "I gave this presentation back
in October, and I didn't hear about it until April."
Just last week,
the new campaign went nationwide. The mailouts, which are in the
form of a booklet, say of Spencer and the Cook 'book program: "Barton
Spencer wrote the book on notebook checkout programs - figuratively
speaking. He helped give students the freedom of mobility and redefined
the library's niche."
along with a detailed description of the Cook 'book program, can
be found at www.dell.com/hied/library/.
Now the Cook
'book program serves as an example for other campus libraries interested
in offering similar services to their students.
a real good feeling," Spencer said. "Basically what the
library did was they saw something that the students would want
as a beneficial service, and they met that need. And that's what
the library is all about."
during the genesis of the program was the Southern Miss Office of
Technology Resources, now known as iTech, which provided financial
assistance when the original set of 10 laptops was purchased. Since
that time, the library has bought an additional six to help meet
course of the program, there have been times when the library saw
as many as 1,000 laptop checkouts per month. And overseeing the
checkouts has been Kaylene Brehm, head of access services at the
library. Brehm was also instrumental in researching the program
along with Spencer before the first set of laptops was purchased.
At that time,
Spencer said, the idea of providing notebooks for check out at campus
libraries was just emerging.
did take off (at Southern Miss) once people started realizing it
was there," Spencer said.
used in the Cook 'book program are Dell Latitude models. When students
check them out, they can request various types of accessories for
use with them, such as zip drives and headphones.
The 16 notebooks
are kept in a large cabinet-style case, which protects them and
recharges their batteries.
as the notebooks themselves has been the service plan Dell offers,
Spencer said. The Complete Care Plan the library uses covers breakdowns
of the laptops' components, but also practically any other type
of problem, even going so far as to insure against them being dropped.