High tech gear available at Bass

Budget cuts have taken their toll on yet another Yale program.

The Bass Media Equipment Checkout program, a website that allows Yale students to borrow digital equipment such as camcorders, tripods, and Mac adapters, was meant to officially launch this month, the program’s co-assistant director Erin Scott said, but has been delayed indefinitely due to funding difficulties. In addition, the advertising campaign for the website planned for this month has been pushed to November, she said.

“There is no current plan for a yale.edu/bmec site or anything at this time due to budget and time constraints,” Scott said in an e-mail Monday.

The program, which has been tested on a pilot website since Nov. 2009, joins the School of Art’s Digital Media Center for the Arts on York Street as the only resources on campus for students to borrow high-quality digital equipment. Only arts students can borrow from the Digital Media Center of the Arts, but anyone with a Yale affiliation can borrow equipment from the Bass Media Equipment Checkout, Scott said.

“[The program] has been fairly successful, but this is just by word-of-mouth,” said Matthew Regan, a instructional technologist in Yale’s Information Technology Services.

The Digital Media Center for the Arts at the School of Art allows students to check out digital equipment, but the program’s technical director Ken Lovell ART ’92 said it primarily lends material out to students in art classes. Since digital equipment is becoming more important in all areas of the university, Lovell said he is glad that the Bass program is opening digital equipment access to the broader Yale community.

While the Bass program is similar to the Digital Media Center for the ARts, the type of equipment carried by each is different, Lovell said.

“[Digital Media Center for the Arts] has a greater variety of stuff for more specialized purposes,” Lovell said, adding that Art students require higher quality equipment to achieve the professional quality they want in their work.

Since the pilot website launched last year,administrators of the program have been checking for problems with the website and discussing student-use policies, such as the rules on fines, long-term checkout, and item replacement, since last fall, Scott said.

While the program is intended for academic use, Regan said any student can check out the digital equipment from Bass for up to three days without being asked the purpose of their project.

“The majority of students probably have portable point-and-shoot cameras,” Regan said. “But we’re providing options if a student wants to check stuff out to get higher-quality photos.”

Students who want to check equipment out for longer than three days must seek Scott’s approval. For long-term projects, Scott said preference is given to projects either with an academic purpose, like a senior project, or to projects conducted by Yale groups.

But rules change when students plan to take equipment abroad.

For a spring break trip last year, a student asked Scott for permission to take video equipment to Ecuador to film birds as part of a Yale course. Due to the cost of the equipment, Scott said that in these instances, she also wants to know whether the student’s project has the support of an academic department, or a master or a dean, to replace the item if damaged or lost.

“If a group wants to check out a camcorder to film their a cappella concert, we won’t have a problem with that,” Scott said. “But if that a cappella group wants to check it out for three weeks for their tour in Europe, they’ll need insurance.”

Although many groups have been using the program, it seems the student body are largely unaware they can borrow media equipment from Bass.

Only seven of the 42 students surveyed in Bass Library Monday night said they knew about the Bass Media Equipment Checkout program.

Tatum Bell ‘12 said she borrowed a Mac adapter to connect her computer to a projector last spring. While she said the ability to check equipment out online was convenient, she added that the website had room for improvement.

“The [media equipment] website was a little buried in the Bass [Library] website,” Bell said.

As of Sept. 16, the Bass Media Equipment Checkout website had received 1,171 equipment requests since its launch in 2009.

Correction: October 20, 1010

An earlier version of this article mistakenly used “of” instead of “for” in the name of the Digital Media Center For The Arts. It also mistakenly said the Center is a part of the School of Art. While the Center primarily caters to art students, it actually falls under the Office Of The Provost.

Comments

  • KenLovell

    By way of clarification; The Digital Media Center for the Arts is not, strictly speaking, a part of the School of Art. We provide facilities for **ALL** of the Arts area programs at the University. The School of Art students share DMCA resources with students, staff and faculty from Drama, Film Studies, Theatre Studies, Music, Architecture, and Art History.

    The Equipment Checkout Program at Bass has grown to be a valuable resource for students who are **NOT** participating in an Arts area discipline at Yale. Many of the students the Bass program serves have no other access to either basic media gathering equipment or technical instruction. It appears that the Bass checkout program has been implemented with a great deal of consideration to meet the needs of an increasing demand for this type of equipment by non-Arts related users. I hope that the University takes steps to ensure that promising programs like this survive to meet those needs.

    Ken Lovell – Technical Director, Yale Digital Media Center for the Arts