With the popularity of renting MacBook Pros from Macalester’s lending pool, the library purchased 15 Chromebooks to make more computers available to students at an affordable price for the library.
The Chromebooks are browser-based, meaning that they run exclusively online and on Google apps. “[They’re] perfect for emailing, writing papers, video-calling, chatting, sending emails and watching movies,” said Angi Faiks, the Associate Director of Access, Instruction, and Research Services for the library. “For the majority of students, this suits their needs perfectly.”
Additionally, the Chromebooks are cheaper for the library. The price of a typical MacBook Pro is $1,300. The price of a single Chromebook the library purchased over the summer was only $250.
“The whole point [of the Chromebook] was to create a device that would be really, really easy to use and something that is sold at a price point so that anybody can use them,” said Brooke Boatman ‘16, a Computer Science major and library student worker.
“We replace the laptops every four years, so for the same price [as a MacBook Pro] we could replace a Chromebook every year,” said Rachel Weaver, the Assistant Help Desk Manager for the Information Services (ITS).
Weaver explained that the Chromebooks also have safer security features compared to the other laptops. Every time someone logs out or closes the laptop lid, the data and local storage is wiped. This clears each user’s cache and cookies, so that nobody has access to someone’s email or bank account if they forget to log out.
So far, there have been over a hundred Chromebook checkouts this month alone. Chromebooks are currently running as a pilot program. The library is seeking user feedback which is necessary to keep this service available. So far, they are not intended to replace other types of laptops. “I don’t think that Macs will ever go away, because students like them,” said Boatman. “I think it’s the number one most requested laptop type, because it’s familiar, so I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of Macs, but I think that having an extension of that and more options never hurts.”