Practising what you teach at the University of Sheffield

Sponsored: D-Tech International’s James Breakell on Sheffield Uni’s success in the QS rankings and how laptop loans enhance the student experience

Ranking first in the world for library and information management, the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018 highlights the leading research and teaching of the University of Sheffield’s Information School. Sheffield University leads by example with outstanding and innovative library facilities and we would like to share our case study with you to give an insight into D-Tech’s installation at the university. 

The library

As a world-class research-led institution, it is no surprise that the University of Sheffield is home to an award-winning library service that is at the centre of the student learning experience with a core commitment to supporting globally recognised research.

The challenge

The library, and Corporate Information and Computing Services (CiCS) jointly support two world-class learning spaces: the award-winning Information Commons and the £81m Diamond building, opened in 2015, delivering high-quality IT-enabled study spaces and 24-hour access to student resources. In these environments, the manual loaning of laptops was limited to staffed hours, and the library and CiCS sought further automation of this function to enhance the service.

The solution 

The first D-Tech installation was in 2014 when a ComputeIT unit was installed in the Information Commons (IC). Later, the opening of the new £81m Diamond building, which provides nearly 1,000 state-of-the-art study places, led to the decision to install an additional ComputeIT unit, with each site having 4×12 bays and up to 48 loanable laptops charged and ready for student use via an automated self-serve process (24/7).

The results

Expanded services – faster access to laptops which can be used anywhere within the building 

Improved services – improved use of staff resources

Improved customer experience – easy to use, rapid laptop deployment (24/7)

Customer comments

Sue Dennison, Library Services Manager, said: “The students have found the cabinets easy to use. The portability of the laptops enables students to use them anywhere within the building, which is great for independent and group study. Although the majority of students have their own laptops, they do not always want to carry expensive and heavy devices around with them, so it is ideal that they can access their university files from the loanable laptops service. 

“We have been very happy with the service we have received from D-Tech; they are very helpful and quick to respond. The cabinets have been a success, for students and staff alike, enabling us to use our resources better out in the library, rather than being behind a desk issuing laptops.”

 Chris Jones, Library Systems Manager, said: “From the experience of trialling the service in the IC, and based on student feedback, we removed the ‘second scan’ requirement and adjusted the laptop availability charge-level to allow us to make more laptops available, more often, without waiting for them to be fully recharged. The Diamond installation saw a significant increase in usage, and both cabinets have been very well used over the past academic year. D-Tech supplied us with high-quality equipment, providing ongoing support, and have carried out additional development work based on our requirements.”

For find out how D-Tech International can help you to improve your library facilities and enhance the student experience at every level of the education sector, please call 01394 420077.

James Breakell is UK Managing Director at D-Tech International