A Guide to Managing Your School’s Equipment Room

Students with equipment

If you are like most schools and universities, you are probably using sign-out spreadsheets or pen and paper to manage all of the gear in your equipment room.

A student needs to borrow a camera. You log it on the sign-out sheet. The student initials it. Then, you log it back in on the sheet once the student returns it. This system works fine if you are only lending a couple of items per day.  

As the amount of gear in your equipment room grows, more students are checking things out each week, and you have more staff helping with this process. 

Suddenly, your sign-off spreadsheets are messy and out-of-date. Worse yet, there are no built-in accountability or loan verification systems in place. Students are returning gear late, damaged, or not at all. 

You need a reliable system to know who has what, when it was given to them, and what location it needs to be returned to. 

In this guide, we’re sharing tips to help you streamline and simplify your school or university’s equipment room management. 

Use asset management software to manage your equipment room 

If you have hundreds of thousands of dollars – or even millions – of equipment, such as laptops, cameras, lens, cables, microphones, AV equipment, microscopes, etc, you shouldn’t be managing it via a sign-out sheet in a binder, a simple spreadsheet, or a complex workflow involving a Google form and multiple spreadsheets. 

A much better solution is to use asset management software, such as Reftab, to manage this process. This allows you to have a request portal and a simplified way to organize, maintain, and keep track of all equipment in one place. 

6 tips for managing your equipment room  

While using asset management software is a great first step, here are some more equipment room tips designed to help equipment managers and equipment assistants streamline this process. 

1. Establish an efficient check-in and check-out system 

Do you have a way to quickly find and reserve equipment online?

What processes do you have in place to prevent double-booking? 

How do you ensure students are getting the right equipment based on their experience level? 

Do you have a detailed check-out procedure in place to ensure the equipment is brought back on time and in good condition? 

These are some questions you should answer when designing your check-in and check-out system. 

2. Track inventory regularly 

When you are using software instead of spreadsheets, it makes it easier to log and see all of your equipment in one place. Not only does this mean you can loan equipment to students faster, but it is also easier to check warranties and perform routine updates and maintenance. This is especially important for film cameras, computers, and expensive journalism gear. 

For example, if one of your cameras is out of commission and being repaired, you can log that in your asset management software. 

You can also assign statuses to each piece of equipment based on the condition they are in. 

In addition, you are able to run detailed equipment reports and get insights into gear usage 

3. Log assets for educational grants and insurance purposes 

Mapping out and getting a clearer understanding of all of your equipment and gear isn’t just important for lending it to students. It is also vital if your organization applies (or was awarded) to any educational grants as well as for standard insurance purposes. 

These asset logs should include all of the following information:

  • Each piece of equipment and any accessories tied to it 
  • When you purchased it 
  • How much it costs
  • Condition of the item 
  • Any warranties

For example, if a hurricane severely damages your school, having a detailed asset log of your equipment can expedite filing your insurance claim. 

4. Set up barcode scanning 

If you’ve ever been to a factory, you’ll notice that all of the warehouse workers walking the aisles have barcode scanners. These scanners make it easy to find the items they need faster. 

While an equipment room manager isn’t going to be finding 40 items to ship to customers each hour, setting up barcode scanning is easier and more efficient for sorting and organizing all of your equipment and inventory than any homegrown system. 

Not to mention, having a barcode on each piece of equipment is useful in the event anything is lost or goes missing. 

5. Create a booking portal 

Many schools and universities also have recording and/or studio rooms that students can book and use for projects. If you are using asset management software to loan cameras and AV equipment to students, you can set up a booking portal inside the same software to rent out these rooms. 

This is more efficient for everyone since students can reserve recording rooms at the same time they check out gear. And, it makes it easier for the equipment manager to keep track of everything and reduces the chance of double-booking. 

6. Establish role-based access controls 

When you are lending gear to students, you might want to have each student sign for the equipment to prove that they borrowed the item. That’s what’s referred to as role-based access control. 

So, different departments and students should only be able to see different assets from a particular location or from departments. For example, film students should only see film. Or, journalism students should only see the media lab, etc. 


In sum, these are a handful of ways you can simplify your school or university’s equipment room management. 

Want to make this process even simpler with asset management software designed for educational institutions? Try Reftab for free.