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Students without laptops turn to library resources

By Elise Vasko, For The Miami Student

It's 1 a.m. on a Wednesday and Mary Yu is just leaving King Library. She spent the last six hours writing an English paper, and will be back again tomorrow to complete her online math homework.

This week, Yu is spending all her study time at the library because she is having her laptop replaced.

She is like other students without laptops who face challenges with homework and studying.

Today, laptops are ubiquitous on college campuses.

However, without one, Yu has found day-to-day classwork more challenging.

"I do think it's necessary to have your own laptop because Miami is a university that requires students to do a lot of work," Yu said. "And to work efficiently you need your own computer instead of running around every day trying to get stuff done."

While many students study in their residence halls, Yu does not have the same luxury.

"I just happen to have three papers that are coming up, and I like working in my dorm but I just can't because I don't have my computer," Yu said. "Also, it's not very convenient for me to go onto the Miami website to check my mail."

First-year Grace Tomlinson, who does not have a personal laptop, agreed the main issue for her is convenience.

"I have chemistry homework due every Monday, Wednesday and Friday," Tomlinson said. "It's all online, so I have to spend a lot of time at King Library doing my chemistry homework since I can't do it from my room."

However, students like Yu and Tomlinson are able to access the Internet using desktop computers at libraries around campus and by borrowing laptops from any of Miami's libraries.

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Rob Withers, head of circulation at King Library, said borrowing laptops from the campus libraries is popular among students. Withers said laptops were checked out 20,000 times from Miami's libraries, last year.

However, Withers said the majority of students who borrow laptops from the library actually own a personal laptop.

"Sometimes students just choose not to bring their laptops to campus," Withers said. "If you're going to be on campus for six hours, for some people, borrowing is a convenience. So they use it when they need it and then bring it back and they don't have to worry about keeping track of it."

Although borrowing a laptop is an available option, owning a personal laptop is sometimes required for classes.

Sociology professor Steven Nelson requires students to bring a Wi-Fi-capable device with them to class. However, Nelson said the device does not necessarily need to be a laptop, and the student does not necessarily have to own it outright.

"Some of what we're doing requires people to communicate, so the technology allows communication between students," said Nelson. "For example, students use Google Docs, and they are able to type and it happens on both of their computers at the same time."

Nelson has not found requiring Wi-Fi-capable devices to be an issue, as almost every student in his classes has a laptop or phone to access the Internet.

Nelson said if fewer students had laptops, he would need to restructure the class, but in general, he strongly recommends that Miami students own their own laptops.