The Tragedy of the Commons: Loaner Chromebooks in Crisis


Rory Hermosillo

Only 11 chromebooks left in the library to be loaned to students when there would be at least 50 or more chromebooks prepared

Rory Hermosillo, Staff Writer

The transition to becoming a one-to-one technology school where each student is assigned a Chromebook has created some unforeseen challenges for students and staff alike. While Buena is the last school in Ventura Unified to provide loaner Chromebooks to students during the school day, it is likely that privilege is ending this year. One major factor being about this end is Chromebooks and chargers not being returned until weeks or even months later, sometimes only to be returned in poor condition. 

Teacher Librarian Joel Levin accredited this conundrum to a phenomenon described as “the tragedy of the commons” in which communal property is treated poorly because no one has personal ownership over the item. Levin cited classroom pencils as an example; they are there in case a student forgets a writing utensil but, more often than not, those pencils are not returned or are returned in poor condition. In the library’s case, 260 dollars Chromebooks replaced the pencils, but are treated just as carelessly.

Chromebook cord snapped in half and returned to the library. This being one of a few of the damages caused upon the loaners (Rory Hermosillo)

“Our inventory is massively depleted, [there are] dozens and dozens and dozens of one day loaners that are months overdue,” Levin said. 

Levin also went on to explain that over 50 Chromebooks are checked out daily, but only a dozen or less are returned at the end of each day. 

Another conflict surrounding loaner Chromebooks is they are borrowed at such a frequent rate, it has become difficult for the librarians to complete their usual library duties. In fact, according to Levin, this is the exact reason other schools in the district no longer check-out loaner Chromebooks to students.

“It has become burdensome and time consuming, taking away from responsibilities that were the normal duties of the library,” librarian Kathleen Olivier said.

Librarians are not the only ones who have become frustrated by wanting Chromebooks and charger rentals to be taken away, teachers want to limit the amount of students who miss class with the excuse of needing a Chromebooks or charger. 

“When this type of lending happens it tends to just enable students to keep borrowing without any real consequences. In some cases students might feel entitled to keep borrowing without even bothering to look for their lost one.” said English teacher, Adam Nunez. “If I as a professional adult forget my Chromebook, that’s going to make teaching much more inconvenient for me. If a student forgets theirs they should also feel inconvenienced so they’ll be more likely to bring it the next day.”

With this courtesy likely being taken away, students may take more care of their own and have a higher respect for those they borrow in class.

“It is unfortunate that this is being stripped away from students, but being in the teachers shoes, I would feel exhausted too. As long as Chromebooks can be provided to classrooms in replace of the library, I think it’ll be just fine” sophomore Adesta Hanratty said. “It is going to suck for those days we really need them, [but] it will probably motivate students to bring their Chromebooks ”