Curbside Pickup/Contactless Checkout Options (Blog Series: Part Two)

LibCal and LibAnswers Scheduling and Communication Module for Holds Pickup

Last week’s post on LibCal Seats module generated a great response – thank you all. Our libraries are looking for solutions to help them reopen safely, and we’re excited to be helping with this process. Several current LibCal customers are helping us with the Seats module, so we are confident many of you will find the upcoming module very helpful as you navigate the use of library facilities in a post-COVID-19 world.

We hope you’ll like our curbside pickup/contactless checkout solution just as much. Depending on the particular needs for your library, you can already start utilizing what we have or wait for the upgrade release in the coming 4-5 weeks.


Three Options for Curbside/Contactless Holds Pickups

There will be three options available in LibApps regarding the curbside pickup – which one you will utilize depends on your library’s workflows. You can also start using the first option that’s already available and then expand/move to the other two options as they become available over the summer.

Option 1 – Scheduling of Pickups Only

Libraries using LibCal Spaces module can allocate dedicated spaces for curbside/contactless pickup and customize the setup to serve the need for scheduling of pickups. This functionality is already available in LibCal and you can/should start using it immediately.

We published a blog post on using LibCal Spaces for scheduling contactless/curbside pickup of library holds, and our training sessions on this have been among the most attended this year.

The setup works great and it’s free with your LibCal subscription! If you need to add a few additional Spaces to your LibCal subscription, contact us at sales@springshare.com and we’ll make it happen. If you don’t have LibCal but need a scheduling tool for curbside pickup/contactless checkout, contact us and we’ll work with you on a flexible pricing structure.

For those libraries that also want to add the communication component to holds pickups, we’ve got you covered! We’re building a new module in the coming weeks to help you meet this need.

Option 2 – Scheduling and Communication (or Communication Only) Regarding Pickups

Some of you have asked us come up with the communication process for holds pickups, too! While many libraries are happy with a tool for scheduling of holds pickups, some want to add the communication piece to the worfklows – or only focus on communication piece for holds pickups.

Great idea, we thought, so we’re busy working on an end-to-end solution for holds pickups/contactless checkouts. We are leveraging our expertise with SMS communication, email, and chat functionality from LibAnswers, to come up with a brand-new LibApps module to help libraries schedule and communicate with patrons about curbside pickups/contactless checkouts. This helps avoid miscommunication or missed pickups while also minimizing unnecessary contact with staff. Safety first!

Holds pickup workflow in the new module

  1. The library customizes the ILS holds arrival email template to include the link to LibCal’s curbside pickup scheduler.
  2. The patron receives the “your materials have arrived” email and schedules their pickup time using LibCal’s mobile-first web scheduler. The library controls how many pickup timeslots are available each day and when, to control the flow of users arriving to the library.
  3. LibCal sends a pickup confirmation email with instructions to patron how to communicate with the library when they’ve arrived for their holds.
  4. Upon arrival, the patron sends an SMS text or initiates chat to let the library know they’re here.
  5. The module automatically matches the message with the LibCal scheduled pickup so the librarian knows exactly who is picking up which materials.
  6. The librarian on duty receives the SMS or chat with the LibCal booking information and the patron info, and they drop off the materials at a pre-determined spot (parking space, outside table, front door, etc), as described in their pickup confirmation email.
  7. The system automatically records when the patron has arrived and gathers valuable statistics on patron interactions for follow ups, to help identify any pain points, and ideas for further workflow improvements.

Once you and the patrons try out this new workflow for holds pickups everyone will ask themselves why were holds pickups done any other way in the past? 🙂 We’re really excited about this new module because it will marry the best of Springshare’s technology for the purpose of truly improving the library’s workflows – not just during COVID-19 pandemic but in general, too. This new system will significantly enhance the value proposition and make it more convenient for your users to schedule and communicate with you about their holds.

We’re planning to release this new module in the first week of August, but in the meantime you can/should start using Option 1 (outlined above) because it will be an integral part of this new module, too. In other words, you will not waste any effort or lose work/customizations by starting on Option 1 now while we spend the next 4-5 weeks finalizing this exciting new module. Just like with the LibCal Seats module we’re working with several existing customers on this and if you have ideas and suggestions – please let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

Option 3 – ILS Integration (aka the Holy Grail)

This will not be ready for the early August release but rest assured that we’re not stopping our development on this module by then. We are planning the ultimate enhancement to the Curbside pickup/contactless checkout module – full ILS integration so the module will read the information about the holds directly from your ILS and write to the patron’s ILS record when the patron picks up the hold.

This upcoming ILS integration will make this new module an indispensable tool for libraries looking for a true end-to-end solution for curbside pickups/contactless checkouts. Your holds workflows will never be the same, and we’re not kidding about it, either. 🙂 We’re planning to release the ILS integration in September and if you’d like to work with us on it please contact us and let us know which ILS you use and we’ll put it on the todo list. One of the things we enjoy the most about our development process is working closely with our libraries so we cherish every opportunity we get to do this!

Learn More – Contact Us

Stay tuned to this blog, and subscribe to receive email alerts (enter your email address in the right column —>) to stay updated on when this functionality will be arriving in the coming weeks. Interested in being added to our contacts list? Email us at sales@springshare.com and we’ll be in touch as soon as this LibCal/LibAnswers module is released with pricing.

4 comments

  1. Anthony says:

    I’m blown away by how much y’all are doing right now–you’re leading the field in innovation for the current situation! Looking forward to to connecting as a Sierra Library for the ILS portion.

    • Slaven says:

      Thank you, Anthony. We look forward to working with you and your team on the Sierra integration – we’ll definitely be in touch about this very soon. Any more ideas and feedback – please do not hesitate to reach out and share it with us. Thanks again.

  2. Laurie Willis says:

    We have started using SMS messaging as an option (in addition to phone) for patrons to contact the library when they arrive for pickup. When all goes well, it works smoothly and patrons get their materials quickly. However, sometimes it doesn’t work so well.

    We currently have 10 branches open as Express Pickup locations, with more to be added soon. Each branch does not have its own SMS number so we are asking patrons to text a central number that goes to our Call Center queue. The patron submits name, card number and branch, then the SMS is transferred to a different queue (which also has an SMS number.) Each pickup location has its own login(s) for this queue so Call Center transfers to that specific login. We set up the two separate queues because it was too chaotic to have branches sorting through a bunch of incoming messages looking for theirs. We could not figure out a different way to ping them or send a chat only to them.

    The downside – sometimes the transfer doesn’t go through or takes a long time. Sometimes a connection gets dropped. We’re still trying to determine if this is a LibChat issue or a general internet connection issue. Either way, any chats that are transferred as the connection goes down are immediately converted to Tickets and staff have to search for them, retrieve them, and respond to the Ticket. Sometimes staff aren’t even aware that this happens so patrons end up calling on the phone or flagging down a staff member.

    So, as this new system is being created, please consider a way to keep SMS conversations within the chat interface until the chat is closed by a staff member. I understand that determining the end of a chat conversation isn’t as clear-cut as normal chats, but it would help if the staff person could indicate when they have conveyed the necessary information, at which point the chat could become a Ticket.

    It would also be helpful if the system could sort out the incoming texts and funnel them to the correct branch login. Or at least if both Call Center and branch staff could be logged into the same queue and still be able to separate and ping the branch only when incoming texts are for them.

    Thanks for listening. We think this process has potential but it still needs improvement.

    • Slaven says:

      Hi Laurie, this is amazing feedback, thank you so much – and it’s precisely one of the reasons we are working on this new-and-improved curbside pickup/holds workflows. Several of our existing customers have made similar remarks and gave us great feedback & ideas – so we got to work to improve the current setup. I am confident you are going to find our improved curbside pickup a great fit for your workflows (we’ll definitely make things work better for a multi-branch setup like yours).

      We would love to include you in the feedback loop/ideas as we work on polishing the new functionality, so hopefully you will be okay when I and one of our PMs email you to ask a few followup questions. This will greatly help us in figuring out the details of this new module and the new functionality. Thank you in advance for helping us with this. 🙂 Be well and stay healthy!

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