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:
- Building/Location Capacity ->
- Zones within the Building/Location (new with July release!) ->
- Spaces Capacity ->
- Individual Seats (new with July release!)
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.
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.)
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).
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.