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Gear Closet Checkout System

Usage instructions on the online system for checking out CCRMA equipment, e.g., from the Gear Closet.


Google Access

There are two parts:

  1. The Borrow / Return form for self-service check-out and check-in. You can go to the raw form, but usually you’re better off following a “pre-filled link” such as one of these: GRIN=1, GRIN=42, GRIN=57
  1. The Online Logbook, containing the form’s resulting, accompanying, and derived spreadsheets, all in a single Google Sheet as separate tabs, as described below.

The permissions are “Anyone in this group with this link can view” for Stanford University; authenticate to Google with your credentials. Only CCRMA Staff can edit.

GeaR closet Identification Number

Each item in the inventory of the CCRMA Gear Closet has (will have) a “GeaR closet Identification Number” or “GRIN” for short. :-)

It’s just a positive integer (1, 2, 3…) uniquely identifying each item.


Here is the inventory web page enumerating all the items:

(It’s one of the tabs (“sheets”) of the same Google Spreadsheet as the lending process.)

Columns A-L are information CCRMA staff entered about the items, including:

The rightmost columns are all computed via Google Sheets formulas and mainly have to do with repackaging this sheet’s data into LaTeX for automatically formatting the label; only one is of general interest:

Inventory by Category

Exactly the same data as Inventory, just sorted (alphabetically) by Category (e.g., to make it easy to see all the MIDI controllers grouped together).

Inventory by Location

Just another re-sort of the Inventory, this time by location (e.g., which shelf).

Lending Process

CCRMA’s Gear Closet contains equipment for CCRMA researchers to borrow for short-term projects (typically less than two weeks except by special arrangement with staff).

  1. Be a CCRMA researcher.

  2. Have keycard access to the Gear Closet (to be able to unlock it physically), or get help from CCRMA staff or perhaps a grad student.

  3. Each lendable item should have a label with a QR code linking to the borrow/return form (as a pre-filled link encoding the appropriate GRIN). Fill it out:

  4. As soon as you submit the form our benevolent Google overlords add a row to the log and update the item’s status so other people know it’s missing, as well as emailing you confirmation of what you submitted.

  5. You can resubmit the form with corrected or new information, e.g., by selecting “report an issue about the item without checking in or out” (e.g., if you already checked out the item on your previous form submission).

  6. If you used the wrong GRIN, then resubmit the form to check the wrong GRIN in (thereby canceling the erroneous check-out and correcting the inventory quantities), then submit the form a third time with the correct GRIN.

  7. Submit the form for each item you borrow. (Consult with CCRMA staff if you want to check out a large number of items.)

  8. Enjoy using each item; keep all the accessories together with it and note any difficulties.

  9. Physically return each item (in its case, with all accessories) back where it belongs inside the Gear Closet.

  10. Go back to each item’s borrow/return form (e.g., by again scanning the label’s QR code) and fill it out again:


We don’t want trolls or worse to ruin this system. We can’t control Google access via CCRMA logins. This system requires that each borrower have a unique ID so we know when you return the item you borrowed (e.g., as opposed to that other Shure SM58 that somebody else is borrowing).

So we made both form submission and viewing the log require that you authenticate (i.e., give your identity/email when logging in) to Google via your single sign-on, including all their business with Two-Step Authentication and Cardinal Key as well as connecting your use of this system with Stanford’s Fundamental Standard.

So this could be a good occasion to install a Cardinal Key on your convenient QR-code-camera+typing device, perhaps iOS, which also needs “Intelligent Hub” by the “AirWatch” developers before downloading the actual certificate in your web browser(s). “The MyDevices service lets Stanford affiliates who are subject to Stanford’s information security mandates view the compliance status of their devices.”

Lending Special Cases

Again this is not a full-featured library loan software “solution”; it’s just a google form and some sheets hacks that add up a bunch of ones and negative ones to see how many are currently on loan. Here’s how to handle some special cases.


If you already checked out the item then the system already knows you have it. If you decide to return it later than originally planned, please do let us know, but not by checking it out a second time (which the system would interpret as your checking out a second instance of the same item, with two now missing from the inventory).

So fill out the form twice more:

  1. Check the item back in, as if you were returning it. (This will clear the overdue status.)

  2. Check the same item out again, now for the later date. You can add any explanation either to the “Staff approval” field, or after selecting “No” for “Does the item look OK…?”

Transfer of Borrowed Item

This is the situation where you’ve borrowed an item that another CCRMAlite needs. You want us to know that you’re no longer responsible for the item, so you should check it back in, and then the next person should check it out, even if you gave it to them directly.

When you check in the item, under “Is the item working fine and includes all accessories?” you can select “Other” and leave a note saying that you gave it to a certain person instead of returning it to the usual location.

Online Logbook

The Gear Closet’s online logbook exists as a Google Sheet with several tabs, including:

Log for One Item

The good news is that the Google Sheets FILTER function can select just the rows of the Check in/out log for one particular item you’re interested in (just like a single page of the old check-out logbook). The bad news is that in order to enter a specific GRIN you need write access to the sheet, so you will need help from staff.

In the “Log for one item” tab, cell B2 is for entering the desired item’s GRIN; columns C through L are the log for that specific item.

Item Status

This is a pivot table that simply adds up the “Check out (-1) or in (1)” column separately for each GRIN. We chose encoding with -1 and +1 so that the SUM of the numbers will tell us the number currently checked out.

It’s currently the number out on loan (as a negative number), or zero if it (or all of them) are believed to be in the closet.

The inventory sheet uses this number to compute the “# in closet” for each GRIN (as simply the total owned minus the number currently missing).



Doesn’t work yet. It’s easy to see the loans that should have been returned by now but harder to filter for only the ones that still haven’t been returned.

Most recent

Also most confusing.

Uses another pivot table to show the time of each item’s most recent transaction (in or out) per person. So yeah, three variables here.

The rows are the items (by GRIN).

The columns come in pairs for each borrower, with the people in alphabetical order from left to right. For each person:

It’s a good idea to cross-check any discoveries from this tab against the full log.


The longer this system runs the more past transactions clutter up the views. Staff can periodically clean up the log (and hence all the pivot tables derived from the log) simply by copying old transactions from the log to the “Archived” tab. Just be careful on two points:

  1. Select matching pairs of transactions, i.e., each loan’s check out and associated check in. If you archive the checkout but not the checkin then we end up miscounting.

  2. Since the log is the destination for a Google form you’re not allowed to cut and paste rows; you have to first copy and paste and then (being really really sure) delete the rows.

Historical: Black Binder

Ha ha, an historical note. The old system was literally a three ring binder outside the door containing one page per lendable item, like so:

For each item you want to borrow, fill out the information on the corresponding page, including your name and when you plan to return the item.

When you return each item, go to the corresponding page and mark the date that you actually returned it.

This page of CCRMA documentation last committed on Mon Aug 21 10:08:04 2023 -0700 by Matthew James Wright. This page was built with uncommitted changes on Mon Mar 18 14:44:52 PDT 2024 by matt. Stanford has a page for Digital Accessibility.