It's no secret that university libraries are a hub for student learning and collaboration. As libraries shift their objectives from just collecting books to supporting student success, one service that has become increasingly popular is group study rooms. And with the rise in demand for these rooms, there's a growing interest among university library staff for a more efficient system to manage bookings.
Luckily, there's a solution that can save staff time and hassle: a digital platform for easy group study room reservations. In this blog, we’ll explore:
- The challenges of room booking in college libraries
- Why a better system can benefit both staff and students,
- How to roll-out a new process
Challenges of Room Booking without Scheduling Software
As more students head to the library to connect and collaborate, college library staff are tasked with manually logging room reservations and overseeing usage. Without software in place, library teams and college students face a range of challenges. Here are a few examples.
Time-Consuming and Inefficient Processes
Managing room bookings manually requires significant time and effort. Library staff members need to handle all the requests, maintain records, and communicate with users, leading to increased workload and potential errors. It can be inefficient compared to automated systems that streamline the process.
Limited Accessibility and Availability to Resources
With a manual system, students may face limitations in accessing information about room availability and booking options. They may need to visit the library or contact staff during specific hours to make bookings or inquire about room availability. This lack of 24/7 accessibility can be inconvenient for students, especially those who prefer to plan their study sessions in advance.
Potential for Double Bookings and Conflicts
Manual systems rely on individuals keeping track of bookings and reservations. There is a higher risk of errors such as double bookings or conflicts, where two different users are assigned the same room at the same time. Resolving such conflicts manually can lead to frustration and inconvenience for users.
Unused Spaces and Communication Issues
Manual systems often rely on direct communication between library staff and users for booking confirmations, cancellations, or changes. This can result in miscommunications, delays, or difficulties in coordinating with multiple users simultaneously.
It is inevitable that a student makes a booking of a study room but fails to show up during the booked period. When this happens, the library can't release the unused time slot or update the room status in real-time. This leads to a waste of valuable resources and limited availability for other students.
The Benefit of a Room Booking System for College Libraries
The reservation systems in college libraries can be time-consuming, inefficient and manual. But room scheduling software can streamline the entire process. Here are a handful of benefits to using a room booking system in your university library.
Better Student Experiences
Room scheduling software provides 24/7 online access to room availability and booking options. Students can conveniently view and book rooms from anywhere, using their computers or mobile devices. This accessibility enhances convenience and allows students to plan their study sessions according to their preferences and schedules.
Students will also receive instant confirmations, reminders, and notifications regarding their bookings, cancellations, or changes. This improves communication efficiency, reduces miscommunication, and keeps all parties informed about the status of their bookings.
Increase Productivity for Staff
Room scheduling software automates the entire booking process, eliminating the need for manual paperwork and reducing administrative workload. This frees up time for library staff and gives them the ability to focus on other critical work.
For example, room scheduling software captures detailed data on room utilization, occupancy rates, user patterns, and other relevant metrics. Library administrators can use this data for analysis, planning, and resource optimization. The best software often includes reporting features that generate comprehensive reports, allowing administrators to make informed decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information.
Efficient Use of Spaces
Automated room scheduling systems have built-in checks and controls to prevent double bookings and conflicts. The software can instantly identify and flag conflicting bookings, ensuring that each room is assigned to a single user or group at any given time. This reduces frustration and inconvenience for users and eliminates the need for manual conflict resolution.
Room scheduling software can also be easily configured and customized to accommodate specific booking policies, rules, and user requirements. Changes can be implemented swiftly and efficiently, ensuring that the system remains up to date and aligned with evolving needs.
How to Roll Out a Better System
The benefits of implementing a room scheduling software in college libraries are considerable. Not only can you maximize the use of your spaces but you can also give both staff and students access to a more streamlined room booking process. So, how can you get started with a new library room scheduling system?
1. Select the Right Technology
When looking for a room scheduling software for your college library, it is important to prioritize features that cater to your specific needs and enhance the efficiency of your room booking process. Here are some key features to consider:
- User-friendly interface: Look for a software with an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Students and staff should be able to navigate the system effortlessly, search for available rooms, and make bookings without confusion.
- Room availability and visibility: The software should provide real-time visibility of room availability, allowing users to see which rooms are free and at what times. This feature ensures accurate and up-to-date information when making bookings.
- Flexible booking options: Choose a software that offers flexible booking options to accommodate various types of reservations. This may include single bookings, recurring bookings, group bookings, and different time durations (e.g., hourly, daily, weekly).
- Customizable booking policies: Consider a software that allows you to set and customize booking policies according to your college library's needs. This includes defining rules for advance bookings, maximum booking durations, or restrictions on certain rooms.
- Integration capabilities: If you have other systems or platforms used in your library, such as a library management system or campus-wide platform, ensure that the room scheduling software can integrate with them. This integration enables seamless data flow and avoids duplication of efforts.
2. Determine Booking Guidelines
Once you’ve found a room booking system that suits your needs, you’ll need to determine what guidelines or policies you want to place on each room.
Set permissions or policies for rooms as needed. For example, you may want to make some rooms only bookable for the medical school or, maybe, you want to set reservations to be capped after a certain time period.
3. Implement Room Scheduling Software and Hardware
Dedicate time to the actual software implementation, as well as the rollout of your policy. Consider things like college branding, hardware locations and room resources. Making it clear the capacity and equipment in each room will help ensure students and staff find a space that is right for them. Avoid booking a room for 10 for a 2 person study group.
As part of implementation, it is also critical to determine what your booking policy will look like and document it before roll-out. Give staff and students ample time to review the parameters around booking so they know what’s expected of them.
4. Train and Educate Staff and Students
Now that you have your software in place and your policy defined, it’s time to train staff and students on how to use the system. Develop comprehensive training materials such as user guides, manuals, or video tutorials that explain the features and functionality of the room booking system. These resources should be easily accessible and provide step-by-step instructions for different user scenarios.
After the initial training, maintain regular communication with staff and students to reinforce their knowledge and address any questions or concerns. Send reminders about important system updates, booking policies, or any changes that may affect the users' experience.
5. Roll Out the System and Refine as Needed
Launch your room booking system and continue to monitor how it’s working. Get feedback from both staff and students. Adjust as needed.
Remember: most room booking software will also provide you with analytics and insights into room utilization trends, peak usage periods, or user preferences. This information can help optimize room allocation, improve resource planning, and identify opportunities for enhancing the overall user experience.
Manage Your Library Room Bookings with Robin
Centralizing the management of your library room scheduling helps create better experiences for everyone on your campus.
- Eliminate double bookings in study rooms on campus
- Earn back hours of unused meeting room time each week
- Streamline the room booking process for staff and students