University vending machines usually dispense soda and junk food, not $1,000 MacBooks. At Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a kiosk in the library spits out MacBooks free of charge for students to borrow and return five hours later. The kiosk is part of an experiment to gauge interest and see if more MacBook and iPad dispensers should be installed around campus.
Students who don’t want to carry a laptop out of their dorm room can use the self-service kiosk 24 hours a day in the school’s Hagerty Library. A dozen 15-inch MacBooks are available and can be checked out by anyone with a Drexel ID for up to five hours. There’s a $5 late fee for every hour a MacBook is kept out longer than the allotted rental time.
“This was a great opportunity to match a specific student need with library staff’s ongoing exploration of cutting edge technologies,” said Dean of Drexel University Libraries Dr. Danuta A. Nitecki. “We expect the resulting initiative to improve the Drexel student’s academic experience.”
When a MacBook is returned, the hard drive is wiped clean and the battery is charged. Students can’t take the machines out of the library without getting in trouble; each MacBook is equipped with a security sensor.
Drexel is considering iPads for future kiosks, which seems to make more sense. Most university libraries have desktop computers available, and iPads are more suited for portable, rental-based use.