LibCal Seats Module – Safely Reopen Your Building (Blog Series: Part One)

Introducing LibCal Seats

We’re very excited to announce a new LibCal module designed to help our customers reopen buildings safely all while adhering to social distancing guidelines and prioritizing the health and safety of patrons and staff. This new tool can extend beyond the library, too! Academic campuses can use it for computer labs, media centers, student housing (e.g. washers/dryers), etc. Public libraries can collaborate with other public service departments needing an effective and affordable seat reservation system.

This is part one, of a two-part blog series, outlining new functionality we’re adding to our tools to help you reopen safely while prioritizing health and safety of everyone. There’s lots of good stuff to share so let’s get right to it…


Coming Early July – LibCal Seats

The LibCal Seats functionality is an optional module complementing the current LibCal Spaces reservations. It introduces bookable Seats inside Spaces that patrons can reserve and check-in/out of – all by using their smartphones thus reducing unnecessary contact with staff.  The new functionality also lays the groundwork for our forthcoming interactive mapping functionality for Spaces & Seats inside the library – wohoo! Here’s how the new Seats booking will work.

Seating and Spaces Setup

We’re introducing two new hierarchical layers that will help determine capacity and occupancy – Zones and Seats. With this, there will be a total of 4 layers for managing Seating and Spaces capacity in LibCal:

  1. Building/Location Capacity ->
  2. Zones within the Building/Location (new with July release!) ->
  3. Spaces Capacity ->
  4. Individual Seats (new with July release!
Quickly view Zones, Spaces, Seats – and Equipment – at each Location

Based on social distancing guidelines and the occupancy target (30%, 50%, etc.) admins can make certain Spaces and Seats active (bookable) or  inactive (non-bookable).  Each bookable Space and Seat has relevant information to help the patron reserving it (e.g. is it accessible, the description, a photo, etc.). Optionally, each Seat/Space comes with a unique QR code which can be printed and taped next to it, creating a contactless check-in/out process.

Define bookable seats within each Space. Allow users to book all seats in a Space or only one Seat at a time.

Realtime Occupancy Dashboard

The new Bookings dashboard gives admins an overview of Spaces & Seats occupancy and pending reservations. At any point in time the admin can see how many seats and spaces are occupied/booked and where these seats are – by Space, by Zone, or by Location.

Padding Between Bookings for Cleaning

Admins can setup booking rules for any group of Seats & Spaces, and adding padding around each reservation to allow staff time to clean & disinfect the Seats/Spaces (e.g. computer workstations, tables, chairs, etc.) 

Each Space is assigned to a category that details the type of Space it is (Study Room, Computer Lab, Carrels, etc.). At the Category-level, define the booking rules that apply to all Spaces/Seats assigned to the Category.

How It Works for Patrons

Patrons will browse and reserve the desired Seats/Spaces via a mobile-first interface on their smartphones. Once they’ve selected the Seat/Space and date/time, the patron fills out a booking form that the library can fully customize for its needs. LibCal admins can create as many booking forms as needed and even route bookings through a local authentication layer (CAS, Shibboleth, LDAP, Azure AD, etc.) .

Upon reserving a Seat or a Space the patron will get an email confirmation with a unique 3 character code in the email that they will use to check-in (and later, check-out), to identify their reservation. Once they reach their booked seat in the library, the patron checks-in by either scanning the QR code (if the library enables this option) or by loading a special URL on their smartphone. Libraries should encourage patrons to check-out as well, but if they do not, the user will be automatically checked-out at the end of the reservation.

This check-in/out process helps with contact tracing if needed. It’s also totally optional, and libraries can choose to disable it for privacy reasons. We’ve taken great care during development to enable libraries to abide by the privacy policies specific to their institution(s).

Each Space/Seat comes with a printable QR code for contactless check-in/out.

Excited? We Are Too!

Reopening your building in this “new normal” is a stressful and anxiety-inducing task, no doubt. With LibCal Seats, our goal is to take even just a little bit off your overburdened shoulders and help out with what we can. Contact us and we’ll work with you to make reopening a success and help ensure a safe and healthy experience for everyone!

Safe Reopening Part Two – Coming Later This Week!

Part two of our blog series, coming later this week, will knock your socks off with an awesome integration of LibCal and LibAnswers for curbside/holds pickup scheduling and communication.

If you’re looking for an end-to-end solution for hold pickups/contactless checkouts, you are going to love what we’re cooking up in our development labs – a true powerhouse combo for both the scheduling of curbside holds pickup and the communicating with patrons about it. Stay tuned for a big announcement later this week, right here on the Springy blog.

Shout Out to Our Community

These enhancements would not have happened without feedback/guidance/advice from our awesome current LibCal and LibAnswers customers who have helped us during development. We’re thankful to have such a great community of users, and we’re very excited to share the fruits of the collective efforts and collaborations with you all, to help our entire community reopen safely.

Onwards and upwards, to safe reopenings we go! Contact us anytime, for any reason – we’re here for you.

17 comments

  1. Holli Kubly says:

    Is there a cost for this?
    Thanks!
    Holli

  2. Amanda says:

    Very cool. Will this work with the free version of LibCal?

    • Talia says:

      Hi Amanda,
      We can add Seats to your free version of LibCal but there would be a cost because we have to cover additional infrastructure costs for this functionality. But please send us a note (sales@springshare.com) and I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how affordable the module is.
      Best,
      Talia

  3. Donna says:

    I attended the Holds Pick-up training session today and was wondering if the holds pick-up mentioned under the part two above is substantially different. Should I wait for this before beginning my holds pick-up set-up? Thanks! Excited for LibCal Seats!

    • Slaven says:

      Hi Donna, we’re confident you’ll like the improved holds pickup system too, just as much as you like the new Seats functionality! You should be fine with setting up your LibCal holds piece now (i.e. the scheduling of holds) because that will be an integral part of the new setup. Namely, we will be adding tight LibAnswers integration (for holds communication) to the current LibCal holds scheduling piece, in order to provide an end-to-end solution for holds management i.e. everything from scheduling a hold pickup, to communication about it, to actually picking it up 🙂 – with great statistics to boot. Bottom line – what you setup in LibCal now will not be “lost” but will definitely be used/useful in this improved system we’ll be announcing soon. Hope this helps, thanks so much!

  4. Willem says:

    Maybe I missed it, but do you support integration with login systems like Google or other ISP’s?

    Thanks a lot.

    • Slaven says:

      Hi Willem, yes LibCal already supports LibAuth authentication for Spaces and the same authentication setup will work with Seats, too. Since there are so many identity service provider protocols out there we recommend that customers first setup a trial system to ensure that the LibAuth would work with their ISP. You can do that right now using the existing Spaces functionality i.e. you do not have to wait until July when the Seats functionality is released. Please contact us at sales@ or support@ and we’ll setup a trial system for you to test your ISP Authentication. Thanks so much!

  5. An Hollowell says:

    Is this totally separate, like Equipment in spaces is separate, or will 10 be included in my 10-10-10 package?

  6. Misti says:

    I have to admit, I was expecting this add on to be free of charge, as a good faith effort to assist during a pandemic. It is somewhat disappointing that LibCal customers wouldn’t get this functionality for free.

    • Slaven says:

      Hi Misti, sorry to disappoint you 🙁 However, rest assured that we have never turned anyone away due to pricing! We do need revenue coming in to pay our increased bills, too, but we’ve always been very flexible and worked with every library to ensure they have the tools they need for the price they can afford. If you remember, we worked with you and your team on this as well, and we have provided LibCal free of charge to you so that you can use the API functionality that you need.
      At the end of the day, given that our prices are low to begin with (pre & post covid) we have to make sure we can pay for our costs in order to keep innovating and bringing value to our libraries. This additional module does comes at a slight added cost because our costs increased with it. In addition, the module provides significant benefit to LibCal overall (QR codes, improved workflows, admin utilization dashboard, improved booking experience) and these benefits go beyond the covid-19 situation (which we all hope, for the benefit of humanity as a whole – is just temporary). Bottom line – sorry that you feel disappointed but please give us a chance and consider the fact that for the past 13+ years we have provided great solutions at great/low prices all along and have a strong record to prove this. We do what it takes to make sure every library has the tool they need to succeed. Thanks for considering, be well and stay healthy! 🙂

  7. Sunny says:

    I’m just wondering based on a pricing estimate we’ve received why continue using ‘Spaces’ if it’s significantly cheaper for a higher volume of ‘Seats’ within ‘Zones’? We’re just trying to get our heads around what the differences are between the two options and if it’d be viable to do away with ‘Spaces’ and just use the ‘Seats’ module? Many thanks, Sunny.

    • Slaven says:

      Hi Sunny, sorry for the confusion – the pricing you have received assumes (or, should assume 🙂 that you are keeping the current Spaces level i.e. that you are not going to cancel all Spaces and just use the Seats module. You can certainly do this if your situation/setup calls for it but then the pricing would be different, too. At the end of the day we’re trying to price things based on the number of Spaces plus the number of Seats that the customers need/have inside their buildings. The amount of server resources and email management needed to book a Space is the same as booking a Seat i.e. each Seat has its own booking calendar, its own booking parameters, it generates the same number of emails as a Space does… Given this, we’re trying to walk the fine line in providing as attractive pricing as possible for Seats but not having to charge 10x what you’re paying for Spaces just because you will have 10x more Seats than you currently have Spaces. So it’s a balance and we’re trying to balance these two aspects of the system. We’re able to provide good pricing for Seats upgrade with the understanding that you would be using your existing Spaces allocation. We’ll definitely work with you to figure out the best solution for your specific situation i.e. depending on how many Spaces you have in the library and how many Seats are within these Spaces. Please send over an email and it will reach me, and I’ll make sure we clarify any differences or issues with your quote/your LibCal system. Thanks so much for being on board, we appreciate it.

  8. Andrea says:

    Do t’all have an ETA on availability?

    • Slaven says:

      Hi Andrea, yup we are releasing this to production servers between July 10 and July 12. We’re super excited about this new module and we’d love to work with you and your team on implementing Seats booking at Duke libraries too. Let us know how we could help, and thanks again for your interest! Be well and stay healthy.

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