Equipment Policies

One of our core services is to provide members of the Brandeis community with audio and video equipment for film shoots and classroom projects. Our equipment is free to borrow, however, patrons must have a valid Brandeis ID card to borrow it. In addition, some of our items require certification to use (see below).

Equipment Levels

We offer a wide range of audio and video equipment, spread across three levels. The general access policy is below.

Level I: general access, training available on a walk-in basis

Level II: limited access, training required by appointment, must be reserved 24 hours in advance

Level III: for special projects that must be approved in advance by the Lab Manager

Equipment Training

Training for access to Level II and Level III equipment is available via scheduled workshops or appointments for one-on-one training sessions. Please see Help and Training for more information.

Loans and Returns

All Level I equipment can be borrowed on a first-come, first-served basis whenever SIMS is open. For all levels, you must have your Brandeis ID to check out equipment. Unless otherwise specified by our staff, equipment circulates for a period of 3 days, after which it must be returned.

Loaned equipment cannot be taken out-of-state without prior authorization from the lab supervisor, who may advise you to purchase short-term insurance, especially if you plan to borrow Level II or Level III equipment. Just one of these cameras or lens packages might cost you up to $5,000 if it is lost or damaged. Production insurance, which covers you for up to $15,000, is typically a good deal, especially if you have been approved to use our equipment for an extended period of time. You can get insurance from College Student Insurance or National Student Services, Inc.

Current Brandeis students, faculty, and staff always receive priority in the use of our equipment. Supporting members of the Brandeis Alumni Association may also request equipment, once their card has been activated in the library circulation system. Access to equipment for alumni will normally be limited to Level I, with exceptions allowed for those alumni who went through our training program as Brandeis students.

Pickup and Return Times

Level I equipment can be picked up and returned at any time when the lab is open.

Level II and Level III equipment is generally more available for pickup on weekdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pickups during evening and weekend hours are only possible if you have reserved the equipment in advance and received approval. Requests are reviewed and approvals are issued during the weekdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., so please plan ahead.

Equipment must only be left with SIMS employees. If the lab is closed when you arrive, or no one is at the staff desk, please do not leave your items at our staff desk, or elsewhere with the library staff. Doing so will result in a strike for neglect of equipment, in addition to another strike if the item is late.

Equipment Inspections

All equipment, ingoing and outgoing, must undergo a formal inspection by our staff. If you are borrowing equipment, a staff member will make note of the item's condition. If you are returning equipment, a staff member will determine if any parts are missing or any damage has been done. Please allow 5 minutes upon borrowing equipment and 5-10 minutes upon returning equipment to complete this process.

When borrowing equipment, it is the responsibility of the patron to ensure that the equipment inspection has been performed. If an inspection is not completed, the patron will be liable for any and all mechanical problems and/or missing parts.

Partial Returns, Damage and Lateness

Most of our items have a unique barcode and can be returned independently of other loaned items. However, any partial returns (e.g. a camera without a charger, a Zoom recorder without headphones) will not be accepted. In the case of a partial return, you can choose to leave the item(s) with us until the missing parts are found, but you will continue to accrue fines for that item until all parts are returned.

If an item is returned damaged, and the equipment inspection deems you liable, you are expected to either purchase a new item or pay for the repairs for that item. These fines are not charged through your library account; you are expected to pay them out-of-pocket. If you fail to pay for the damage, Student Affairs will be notified. All equipment damage results in one strike; failure or delinquency to pay for that damage may result in additional strikes. We expect repairs/replacements to be made as soon as is reasonable.

Failure to return an item on time will result in one strike. You will receive additional strikes for each reminder-email until the item is returned. If you believe your fine is undeserved, you may contact us at; however, you will still continue to accrue fines during this time if the item has not been returned.

If you fail to return an item for more than a week past its due date, it will be assumed lost and you will be assessed a replacement fee and a lost item processing fee. In cases like this, you are encouraged to contact the Lab Manager, who may at his discretion waive the processing fee and allow you to purchase a replacement item.


It is expected that all items are returned in the same state as they were checked out. Please coil all cables neatly and make sure all batteries are inside their respective devices. All accessories should be in their original bags, and items should never be half-assembled. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in a strike.


Sometimes it is impossible or impractical for a patron to return or borrow an item in person. In these situations, a proxy may be appointed. Proxies have the following limitations:

  • They must have been previously appointed on the reservation form (if picking up equipment) or must be phoned in (if returning equipment)

  • They must be approved by a staff member

If your proxy does not satisfy all of the above conditions, we will not loan out or accept a returned item from them. When checking out equipment, it is your responsibility to entrust the proxy with your ID card, as we will not check out equipment to the proxy.


No reservation is required for Level I equipment, though reservations are always available.

Reservations are always required for all Level II and Level III equipment, and must be made at least 24 hours in advance on weekdays to guarantee its availability. As with Level I equipment, failure to pick up equipment on the specified day will result in a strike. Due to limited inventory, not all reservations will be approved.

Equipment requested after 4 p.m. on Friday may not be ready for pickup before 4 p.m. on Monday, so please plan ahead for weekend shoots.


Level II and Level III equipment can often be borrowed for longer than the 3-day default, but generally cannot be renewed. Level I equipment, on the other hand, can be renewed by submitting a request via our website. Unless a renewal request is approved, the item must be returned on the original date, or you will be fined. If we have not responded to your request for a renewal, you should assume the answer is "no."

If you require an item for longer, and have previously been granted a renewal, you must contact the lab supervisor personally to discuss your case. Please prepare a list of the dates you plan on shooting and a written project proposal before contacting the lab supervisor.

We do not loan out equipment for extended periods of time. If you would like equipment for the semester, please purchase your own (we typically order from B&H Photo/Video).

Strike System

SIMS has a three-strike system for policy infractions. All patrons start with 0 strikes. Each infraction results in the addition of some number of strikes. Strikes are reset each academic year, provided that the patron has acquired no more than 3 over that time.

1 Strike

You will receive a verbal warning from our staff.

2 Strikes

You will receive a verbal warning from our staff, and you will lose 2 weeks of lab privileges. This includes the borrowing of equipment and may also include the ability to use our computers/recording studio, depending on the type of infraction.

3 Strikes

You will lose all lab privileges for the rest of the academic year, including the borrowing of equipment and the ability to use our computers/recording studio. Media duplication services and workshop/certification reservations will also be denied, and the Dean of Students Office will be notified of the infraction. If you have failed to return equipment, the Campus Police will be notified.

More Than 3 Strikes

You will permanently lose all lab privileges, cross-semester. The Dean of Students Office will be notified of the infraction. If you have failed to return equipment, the Campus Police will be notified. If you have violated the ITS computer usage policy, the Information Security Office will be notified.