Benefits Of Using A Room Booking System For Libraries

Since the early ages, libraries have been the place where people come together to read, learn and grow. Libraries were considered the institutions for building communities and an essential component for social cohesion. If you walked into any library twenty years ago, all you would see is aisle after aisle of books and long wooden benches where people pull up a chair to sit and read in quite comfort. Discussions were not allowed and even a whisper was frowned upon by the librarians. 

With the advent of the internet, the accessibility to the same literature has become far more easy. Smart Phones and Tablets combined with e-book hardware and software readers have reduced the need for people to go to the library. Today, a tablet can hold almost all the information that is contained in the library of congress. All the information is currently available at the tap of a button. Today, libraries cannot afford to be just a place to borrow books or to read in silence. They need to adapt to the changing behaviour of the patrons while still maintaining the communal spirit based on which they originally were built.

The Libraries Of The Future

Now, Libraries around the world are transforming themselves to be more than just a place to go for reading. Libraries are investing in digital technologies such as computers, tablets and interactive kiosks to keep up with the demands of its patrons. In addition to that, many libraries are transforming into activity focused spaces. Event & Seminar rooms, Meeting rooms with all the amenities of a corporate boardroom, Pods, Cubicles and even Workshops for the modern maker space and gig economy.

With the drawing of the crowds comes the need to properly manage the usage of these spaces and resources. Sadly, if you visit many of the library facilities reservation websites, they provide a highly manual means of making reservations. Links to download a PDF document for users to fill in, scan and email to the staff or just provide a simple email address to contact for reservations are not uncommon. This is a very manual process for the library management that takes time away from more productive activities. Juggling and coordinating reservation of library rooms and resources can become a nightmare as the volume of traffic increases along with the improvement in the library facilities.

Thankfully a room and resource booking system can vastly help in organising this process and making it more efficient by automating several of the common tasks. Below, we find out how a room and resource booking system can benefit the different types of rooms and resources that are commonly found in most modern libraries.

Reservation of Pods


Pods are small spaces comprising of 3 to 5 seats around a table for the purpose of private discussions or group study and are seen sprouting in most school, college and university libraries. Pods are mostly used by students who do their group projects and freelancers who want to collaborate. As examination times approach, these pods become highly sought after. Problems such as hogging and one person occupying a pod can result in a wastage of space. Business rules such as a minimum number of participants to reserve a pod, scanning of a QR-code on the pod to see its vacancy, having a quota system in place or the ability to view the availability prior to physically coming to the library can improve usage of these pods and provide everyone an equal opportunity to use them.

Meeting Rooms


Meeting Rooms have become more and more common in libraries. Meeting rooms usually come with projectors, large screen TVs, video conferencing equipment, digital write-boards and other amenities that can compare to any corporate board room. Meeting Rooms provide a source of alternative revenue for the libraries when they rent it out on an hourly charge basis for the public. With a proper booking system, meeting rooms and their rates could be published on the internet for people to search, reserve and make payments directly online. 

Event & Seminar Rooms


Event & Seminar rooms are large spaces for community related activities. Frequently used by speakers, group reading sessions and even meditation and yoga instructors. These are very popular amongst professionals who would like to hold events for a group of people. Event booking can be a combination of managing the reservation of the event from the organiser side as well as the publication of the event to the general public for them to register and attend. Events require a lot of planning and coordination that becomes complicated when done through phone, fax and email. When an event is booked, there is a need to manage the resources such as projectors, lighting, AV, seating arrangements, catering and the manpower resources. With a proper system coordination of event related activities as well as the management of the attendees can be made much simpler.

Computers


Computers have become a defacto necessity in the library. They are used by people to consume digital text or audio or simply surf the internet to do research. Being a common resource for all patrons, they need to be managed so that everyone gets an equal opportunity to use it. Business rules such as fixed timings as well as limited extensions can be used to control the usage of the systems. Quota systems can be put in place to help distribute the online time equally amongst the patrons.

Wrapping It Up


The libraries of the future will look nothing like those that were present twenty years ago. With the transformation of the library from a place for intellectual pursuit to a place where community activities are held, digital technologies become a necessity. A room and resource booking system can vastly help manage these resources through equal opportunity usage, better management and higher patron satisfaction. Most libraries today have some form of room and resource booking system in place but more can be done to achieve improved productivity and increased operational and management efficiency of the library. It is time that libraries moved away from downloadable PDFs and email submissions for room and resource reservations.

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