October 30, 2014

Libraries Begin Umbrella Rentals

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Students can forget their fears of being trapped inside the library on a rainy day — Cornell University Library launched a new service Monday allowing students to check out umbrellas for up to three days at a time.

The umbrellas can be checked out from any Cornell library, according to Access Services Librarian Wendy Wilcox. Students will be billed $35 if an umbrella is not returned after six days, Wilcox said.

The idea for the umbrella share program came from Emma Court ’15, who approached Mann and Olin Libraries in March after hearing frequent complaints from her peers about Ithaca’s haphazard weather.

“I came up with the idea because there have been so many times I had to travel from one part of campus to another, in the torrential rain, and I was caught without an umbrella,” Court said. “It seemed like the libraries could very easily lend out umbrellas and help make students’ lives a lot easier — and drier.”

Wilcox and Debra Lamb-Deans, both co-chairs of Cornell University’s Library Access Service Committee, met with Court last March to discuss her proposal.

“We thought this was a great suggestion and told Emma that we would work to include umbrellas as an item that could circulate from the libraries,” Wilcox said.

The library was able to fund the initial purchase of 70 umbrellas, according to Wilcox, and with the support of the Student Assembly, was able to promote the new service to Cornell students through Facebook. Since Monday, 60 umbrellas have been rented through the service.

“After learning about the new program from our Freshman at Large Representative Erinn Liu [’18], I personally reached out to Wendy Wilcox to see how the Student Assembly could provide support for this great initiative,” said Lindsay Wershaw ’16, vice president for public relations for the S.A.

Finding a way for students to check out and return umbrellas to any library was one of the biggest challenges, Wilcox said.

“We didn’t want to waste time shipping umbrellas back and forth to libraries,” Wilcox said. “We had to figure out how to trick the circulation system so that umbrellas could be checked out from where they where they were returned.”

Court said she was “excited” to see the program being implemented, adding that it was not something she expected to see prior to graduating.

“This was 100 percent something that the library did based on student suggestions, and I think they definitely deserve a lot of credit for being so responsive to student input,” Court said.