Before anything else we drafted a quick and simple lending agreement that laid out how Explora and our lab administrator would work together to carry out the functions of the lab. I will share a template of that agreement here: Lending Agreement Template.  Be sure to give it a look! I’ll make a few notes about how we arranged the document before I move on.

In the section where I outline Explora’s agreements I specifically mention that Explora will:

  • Provide all necessary paperwork to support the Discovery Lab and inform the patrons.
  • Provide a record keeping tool and training on patron use of the Discovery Lab.
  • Provide training for The Location to facilitate and troubleshoot the Discovery Lab

Each of these bullet points is highly necessary, but I would especially recommend the last two: “provide a record keeping tool” and “provide training for the location to facilitate and troubleshoot”. These are vital for you to collect information on how the lab is being used, and to make sure that the institution has the knowledge needed to implement the labs components as tools for Digital Inclusion.

In the section where I outlined The Location’s agreements I made sure to include:

  • Receive and inventory devices.
  • Make devices available to patrons during events and for home rental.
  • Participate in Discovery Lab training workshop.
  • Keep record of pack use using record keeping tools provided by ExploraConnect.

These bullet points ensure that the location will essentially “buy in” to a Discovery Lab training, and help us to keep records by actually using our record keeping tool. I will go over this tool in detail in my next blog, but I do want to mention that flexibility is key when working with rural, tribal organizations. I’ll be hitting this point again and again in the build up to the end of the pilot.

Again the most important part of this whole process is that you train the lab administrators. If you are not training the lab administrators the tools will simply sit, unused in a spare room, along with all of the other donated or lent devices and project material that your stakeholder institution has received over the years and has no idea how to implement. Train them to use the devices and if they are useful (and we’re taking the pretty good bet that they are) then your local stakeholder will know without you having to tell them where and how to get the best use out of their Discovery Lab.

The last line in the Lending Agreement is as follows:

“Neither party shall be liable to the other for any costs, liability, damages, loss, claims or proceedings of whatever nature arising out of this Lending Agreement  and neither party shall be liable to the other for any loss of profit, loss of business or consequential loss of that party, howsoever caused.”

Explora felt that, because this is a pilot, we would be willing to stomach the loss of one or two devices to experimentation. This is why we felt it necessary to add this clause. Without this clause some of our Lab Administrators would be more reluctant to jump into this project. I will leave it to you weather you add this clause in or not, but I definitely suggest it. The end goal is for your partners to take interest and ownership of the Lab, in doing so they will expend their own energy to protect the Lab on their own behalf. If you have heavy handed language right off the bat, you might not attract a partner that would be willing to step up and help out like we have.

In my next blog post I’d like to talk more about our record keeping strategy for these discovery labs. If you have any questions regarding this or any other blog post regarding our discovery labs, please feel free to email! I’d love to hear about your location and any challenges you may encounter rolling out this kind of digital inclusion strategy.