The Torreyson Library at the University of Central Arkansas has added a bonus feature to its first floor to serve the needs of the students on campus.
The item, a full-sized vending machine, is now stocked with supplies including Advil, earbuds, pens, pencils and highlighters, phone chargers, a flashlight, UNO cards, batteries, eye drops, scantrons and the blue book exam and other varying items.
Tamela Smith, access services librarian, said this is something others at UCA have been wanting to bring to campus for a while, but it was too cost prohibited.
Recently, she said, the Student Government Association pushed for the addition and project funds were set aside.
“The [SGA] made it clear that they wanted it, basically that’s how it happened,” Library Director Dean Covington said. “The library seems to be the most appropriate place. We’re open more hours than any other place … the students need these things when they’re in the library. It seemed like the obvious place to put it.”
Smith said they reached out to faculty, staff and student workers for a list of items that they deemed needed for such a thing.
“It looks like the stuff we had on our list is in there,” she said.
Smith said she’s already seen students using the machine in the week it has sat in the new spot.
Covington said students would often come up to the circulation desk asking for a pen, whiteout or whatever they might need.
“We were getting those kinds of questions so, it’s great,” he said. “We don’t necessarily have to stock all those things anymore.”
Torreyson Library is open 24-hours, five days a week.
Smith during the late-night timeframes, students often frequent the library, studying into week hours of the morning. She said if they forget some of those needed items, the new vending machine can serve as a Plan B.
In addition, Smith said with those items like the blue book and scantrons easily accessible, students won’t have to drive around at 2 a.m. to pick up the supplies for an 8 a.m. class.
“Whatever keeps them happy, keeps them in the building studying,” Covington said. “It’s important for us to provide that for them.”
Smith walked the Log Cabin Democrat through how to use the machine: first, the item needs to be selected, then the price will be displayed.
She said operators can use cash, card and hopefully a bit down the road, will be able to pay with their Bearcard.
The machine also gives the available option to pay with one’s phone by downloading the PayRange Application, adding funds and scanning the QR code on the front.
Smith said she’s glad the campus now has the new feature and is glad the university listened to the wants and desires of the students.
“Everybody’s beyond the moon excited to get it,” she said. “We were all just giddy watching it come in.”
As for who stocks the machine, that responsibility lies with the ones who bought it … the UCA Bookstore.
Brad Smith, store manager, said the university approached them about the purchase and they went through the process of ordering, which cost $7,000, with the bookstore and the university sharing the cost of both the machine itself and the maintenance.
Smith said when they get alerts about items — which are priced the same as they would be in stores — being low, which hasn’t happened yet since it’s only been there a short time, they will handle that.
“The vending machine will be a convenient means for students to get supplies when the bookstore is closed,” he said. “It has only been in the library for a few days, so we haven’t needed to restock it.”
The machine is located on the first floor of Torreyson Library at UCA and sits between food and drink vending machines.