Since the early ages, libraries have been the place where people come together to read, learn and grow. Libraries are an essential component of social cohesion. It’s where you build communities. 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 quiet comfort. Librarians did not allow discussions in the library and even used to frown upon whispers. Let’s discuss in detail on how room booking system for libraries is beneficial.
With the advent of the internet, the accessibility to the same literature has become far easier. 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 information pertaining to 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. Libraries have to adapt to the changing behaviour of the patrons. At the same time, they have to maintain the original spirit.
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 their 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 library management that takes time away from more productive activities. Juggling and coordinating the 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 organizing this process and making it more efficient by automating several of the common tasks. Below, we have discussed how a room and resource booking system can benefit the different types of rooms and resources available in libraries.
Reservation of Pods
Pods are small spaces comprising 3 to 5 seats around a table for private discussions or group study and are seen sprouting in most school, college, and university libraries. Those students and freelancers use pods who want to collaborate or work on their group projects. As examination times approach, these pods become highly sought after. Problems such as hogging and one person occupying a pod can result in a waste 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 before physically coming to the library can improve the usage of these pods and provide everyone an equal opportunity to use them.
In libraries, meeting rooms have become a common fixture. They 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. A suitable booking system can allow 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 organizer’s 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 you book an event, you also need to manage resources such as projectors, AV, lighting, catering, seating arrangements, etc. When you properly coordinate event-related activities, the management of attendees becomes much simpler.
Computers have become a defacto necessity in the library. People use them to consume digital text or simply surf the net for research. Since computers are a common resource, you must manage them so that everyone gets an equal opportunity to use them. You can impose business rules such as fixed timings and limited extension times. You can even have quotas to help distribute online time equally among patrons.
Wrapping It Up
The libraries of the future will look nothing like those that were present twenty years ago. The library has transformed from a place of intellectual pursuit. It is now a place where community activities are held. As a result, digital technologies have become a necessity there.
A room and resource booking system can vastly help manage these resources. It can do that through equal opportunity usage, better management, and higher patron satisfaction. Most libraries nowadays have some form of room booking system in place. However, you can do more to improve productivity and operational efficiency. It is time that libraries moved away from downloadable PDFs and email submissions for room and resource reservations.