Room Reservations In An Academic Library
December 6, 2011 6:24 AM   Subscribe

Help us deal with the barbarians students at the gates study rooms! Looking for a decent room reservation software for my medium-sized, yet busy library.

We have 13 (hopefully soon to be more) group study rooms that are in high demand by our students. Currently, we use GoBookings to allow students to reserve rooms a day in advance for blocks of time up to two hours. We cannot do same day reservation bookings without going insane.

However, demand for rooms and the number of reservations has risen dramatically this semester and GoBookings just doesn't seem to be keeping up. With high use comes students making "mistakes" such as attempting to reserve rooms beyond the two hour limit, making multiple reservations, or reserving just a half hour when they really want the full two. As these are group study rooms, we require two sets of name/student ID numbers to make a reservation.

What we at minimum need:
- A system capable of dealing with multiple room reservations across multiple patrons and locales.
- The ability for administrators to move, extend, and cancel reservations.
- Email confirmation/notice ability.
- Clear reporting functionality.

But also ideally:
- Room reservations may start at the 00/15/30/45 marks, but default to 2 hours.
- Easy user registration so administrators can easily track bad actors ("Gee, you seem to make a 'mistake' in your favor pretty frequently...").
- A simple to use interface for users. Inattentive students often make reservations for the wrong day without realizing it.

Our goal is to spread access to the rooms as fairly and evenly as possible. We often end up in situations (like today) when all our rooms are in theory booked until 5pm. If we weed out the "mistakes," many rooms get freed up, which is good as groups that don't make reservations still need access to rooms.

Looking about at other room reservation products always sets off my sketchy-meter. I'm not sure what it is about these room reservation software companies, maybe it's because they're small businesses or whatever, but something tends to make me not want to give these people money based on a few random screenshots, so recommendations are welcome. Plus, if you've had to deal with a similar situation, how you or your organization handled the problem would be helpful to know.
posted by robocop is bleeding to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
At my academic library, these types of issues are exactly why we used an electronic system that was only admin-facing. So students had to call or come to the desk in person to make an appointment. We had a website that was coded by our IT department to manage reservations, it was a google calendar kind of thing. It worked well about 95% of the time, because the margin of user error was lower on the student-worker side than it would have been on the regular student side, and all the rules for time limits, etc. were easy to enforce that way.
posted by araisingirl at 6:44 AM on December 6, 2011

You're at a university, right? Do you have any sort of campus-wide calendaring software?

We use some sort of homegrown something (as far as I can tell), but it syncs nicely with Oracle Calendar. That does exactly what you're looking for. You can schedule things as people, groups or resources; resources can be rooms or things (such as laptops or projectors). They do have admin functions. On the one hand, tracking all of your users might be difficult, but if you're able to link it to patrons' existing NetIDs/emails/whatever, it might be less complex.

I'm absolutely not an IT person, though, so ymmv.
posted by Madamina at 6:48 AM on December 6, 2011

I know you're in the Boston area. Drop a line to the librarians over at Bentley University in Waltham. They've got a fantastic system that was installed a few years ago, and I think it hits all your needs. You can see a bit of the customer-facing system here.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:00 AM on December 6, 2011

I work at Bentley. There's some pictures here. Try number 5. There's a massive LCD in the lobby which displays the existing reservations since they can be made on the fly. We use a combo of Steelcase RoomWizards and PeopleCube's Resource Scheduler. We worked with PeopleCube to get the software written to do the 2 hour limitation. Options are for 30 minutes, 1 hour, 1:30, and two hours, but they could probably roll out more options. Students have to login via LDAP to make a reservation. Library staff check the reservations each morning to ensure students don't book more than one, but the software handles that too (one two hour/day). They also will physically ensure single students aren't using them since they could use a carrel, and book the hours when we are closed.
posted by jwells at 7:11 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Condeco might work.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:27 AM on December 6, 2011

posted by wdenton at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2011

Drexel is working on a Drupal room booking software, don't know anything about it in particular, though, and that's probably only applicable if you're already running Drupal.
posted by lillygog at 7:46 PM on December 6, 2011

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