Library School + Life Tip #2: Get a laptop

Taking classes has prompted me to buy the two laptops I’ve had. The first one I got as an inexpensive Acer laptop a few years ago, when I took a computer class online through a local community college. I enjoyed the new-found freedom of being able to take the course’s tests online in the coffee shop near home.

I bought a new Acer laptop at the beginning of this semester, one with more power, more storage, and a bigger screen, and it’s really come in handy both in and outside of  class! This replacement came sooner than I’d expected, because a big rain revealed a leak in our apartment’s roof, and water drenched my computer twice. Second time was the charm, so I started my new laptop search online. With this unexpected expense, I looked for a more inexpensive computer, and took advantage of an gift card. turned out to be one of several good websites to do computer buying research, thanks to the reviews that customers leave.

Some library schools, like UNC-Chapel Hill, require their students to have laptops. Their laptop requirements are here. While NCCU, my library school, doesn’t have any laptop requirements listed, it really is helpful to have one. Many colleges and universities offer computers for sale at an educational discount, in addition to software. Some companies offer technology/software discounts as well. Thanks to my employer, I recently purchased a copy of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 for $9.95 through Microsoft’s Home Use Program.

Should you buy a Windows or an Apple machine? That’s a personal preference, for sure! I asked some library colleagues that question back in the late summer, and the consensus was to stick with Windows. Why? It’s important to consider what technology is used in one’s chosen field.  I’ve been working in academic libraries for 14+ years, and every work computer I’ve had has had a Windows operating system. Also, Windows laptops are usually less expensive than Apple laptops. I didn’t need much arm-twisting, since I’ve always had Windows computers at home too.

That being said, I know several current classmates who have Apple laptops and love them! I also know a recent library school graduate who had a Mac desktop at home, and used a little netbook that he bought cheaply at Wal-Mart to take to class. He made it work for him.

Any way you slice it, a laptop computer is a must-have tool for library school! Whichever operating system you decide on, get one with wi-fi capabilities, and you’ll be off and running around school, the library, at home, or wherever you study.

 Clipart from




About Lesley Looper

I'm a full-time library employee. I enjoy reading, photography, travel, blogging, and geocaching.
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3 Responses to Library School + Life Tip #2: Get a laptop

  1. Pingback: Library School + Life Tip #2: Get a laptop | Lesley's Journey through … - Best Electronic N Computer Review | Best Electronic N Computer Review

  2. I have an Acer (netbook) now, but when I’m accepted into a library school my gift to myself will be a regular sized laptop. I considered getting a Mac because I have an iPhone, but your rationale about PC makes me pause.

    • Lesley says:

      The decision is yours, for sure! But give it a lot of thought.

      I’m planning to get an iPhone when my current phone bites the dust, and I currently have an iTouch, which I love! Whenever I go into an Apple Store, I definitely yearn for a Mac!

      Here are some numbers that helped with my decision:

      I got the Acer AS7741G-6426 Laptop for roughly $600 (plus next-day shipping on Amazon after my gift card). It has a 17.3″ screen. To get a Mac laptop with the same screen size, you’d have to go with the largest MacBook Pro, currently $2,299 (after a $200 student discount). That’s a pretty big price difference!

      Some of the innards give an advantage to the Mac, though. My Acer has an Intel Core i5 processor while the big MacPro has the i7, my Acer has 640GB vs. the MacPro’s 750GB. You get the picture! Are these differences and others worth the cost to you?

      Something else you might want to consider is the type of librarianship you want to go into. It sounds like you’re leaning toward public librarianship, where you may be asked to help patrons with the library’s computers as part of your job. What do you want to be most familiar with when you land your first job?

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