Software for creating an equipment library
January 17, 2013 12:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to start running a community college multimedia lab, aimed at providing kids with the resources to make videos. I'm looking for software that'll make it (relatively) easy to administer. Specific hopes and dreams inside…

I'm about to start running a community college multimedia lab, aimed at providing kids with the resources to make videos. I'm looking for software that'll make it (relatively) easy to administer. Special needs inside…

Looking for advice on software to help run a college multimedia lab. The lab functions as an equipment lending center and computer lab for kids taking the video production courses (or kids in other courses who need to make videos for class).

Right now, the lab has a reasonable amount of equipment, but no way to keep track of it. That means stuff gets lost, it's hard to know what's available, and often kids can't get equipment because no one can find it. I want to change that with a complete inventory and check-out system.

The catch is that because this is an urban community college, we've got pretty much no money. That might improve in the future, but for now, I'm looking for software that'll make this all possible… and will come free-to-cheap.

The easy part of what I'd like to do is:

  • Create a document listing all equipment owned by the lab
• Have fields in the document listing whether equipment is checked out or on site
 • If on site, it should list where in the lab the equipment is stored
• If checked out, list who checked it out, including their contact info and promised return date
• Said document should live online, accessible to authorized people's smartphones

All that could be done with a Google doc. But here's the fancier things I'd love to do:

• Include high-resolution pictures of all equipment
• Sort and display equipment by type, so students could see what lights we have, what tripods, etc.
• Automatically text or e-mail people who've checked out equipment when their due date is approaching

Finally, I'd love to have an online database of how-to articles, perhaps even a Wiki that students could update as class projects, documenting footage ingestion, equipment procedures, etc. I was thinking I'd do that with this page's advice, but further thoughts are welcome.

So! Does anyone have any thoughts on the best way to do all this? Any advice appreciated, as I'm an experienced video producer, but a total n00b when it comes to library administration.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Does your CC have a library with congenial and generous librarians? It might be worth asking whether you could use the library's system to check materials in and out (this wouldn't have to mean barcodes etc., but you would probably need to install the library's software on a computer in your lab).
posted by mskyle at 1:02 PM on January 17, 2013

This might be overkill for your needs, but it seems fairly tailor-made: MERCI. If you are already using Drupal, this will be easy, otherwise, perhaps a little bit of a hassle.
posted by ssg at 1:44 PM on January 17, 2013

I would definitely talk with your campus librarians-- our media equipment is partially inventoried through the library system, as students check out pieces through our circulation desk. It also means that the (heavy) late and lost fines are automated and easy to explain to patrons, because they look just like the overdue notices for books. There are some open source management systems but they might be a little overkill, depending on what you're doing...and they probably aren't smartphone optimized. Your library staff might be able to brainstorm another solution, too, or help you with working through the set up of the administrative parts.
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:26 PM on January 17, 2013

OpenBiblio will do everything you list except the high-resolution pictures and the text/e-mail notification.

It is web-based software, so you would need access to a LAMP server.

(If you can utilize your library's existing software, that should be your first choice)
posted by 1367 at 7:48 PM on January 17, 2013

I'm the op (less concerned with anonymity here in the comments).

Thanks for your advice! OpenBiblio and Merci are intriguing, but are clearly going to take some figuring– I don't even know what Drupal is! Talking to librarians is a good idea, too, though given how everything has gone at this school, I suspect that'll be the start of a very long process. I'll probably just set up a Google doc for this semester, and start researching the rest for long-term solutions.

Still, good to know there isn't an easy-bake solution I just didn't know about . Thanks again!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:00 PM on January 17, 2013

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