OSU Borrowables is a program of University Events that provides an inventory of event-related items that OSU faculty, staff, and students can borrow for use at their own events! The initiative is both environmentally and economically sustainable, as it has kept usable items in circulation and saved the university around $100,000 per year over the last several years. See a brief interview with the creator of the OSU Borrowables program, Shelly Signs:
SO: What gave you the initial inspiration to start the program?
Shelly: I worked for an event rental company before I started in higher education, so I was familiar with managing this kind of process. I knew that this concept could help our community while further leveraging inventory that was being acquired anyway.
SO: What did it actually take to get the program up and running?
Shelly: It didn’t take much to get the program started. We evaluated our inventory, and offered out the products that made sense. We started small.
SO: Were there any major obstacles?
Shelly: None in the beginning. As we went along, we became a collection point for others to hand over their items as they ran out of storage, then WE ran out of storage! Our current home is working well. Now our biggest problem is managing a large inventory. We are thankful to our partners for allowing us to utilize EMS (not sure how much we want to get into talking about process of managing inventory, though. It’s not terribly exciting).
SO: How did your rental industry experience help with administration of the program?
Shelly: I knew about product tracking (inventory management), what items are appropriate for checkout, and holding people to check out and check in times.
SO: How has the program changed over time?
Shelly: More product, greater variety of product. My team is starting to utilize EMS to manage the inventory (it’s having some bumps and a steep learning curve, but I’m optimistic that they will figure it out.) We are more liberal with out and in times. We also seem to have accumulated a lot of single items, which makes the inventory feel really big and requires clients to think more creatively about designing their environment. I would like to have more branded products and items that directly reflect the ‘Out There’ campaign.
SO: In your view, what is the greatest benefit of the program?
Shelly: All the money we save the university! We help out so many event planners, and events! By offering this service, we help to elevate lots of projects, and I hope that the planners get to know University Events a bit better through the process. We have a lot to offer the campus in regard to event planning and execution support.
SO: Have there ever been any particularly odd or interesting items listed?
Shelly: For a time we had a bunch of Hawaiian themed props. I find the most successful props to be those used in a photo booth, though.
CATEGORIES: Campus Sustainability