Lauinger Library launched a new online group study room booking system to replace its former Google Documents booking system March 26.

Under the new system, students can use a mobile app to book study rooms by scanning a barcode on the door of any library study room or reserve rooms through the library’s website.

Previously, students could reserve rooms for a minimum of one hour and a maximum of three hours. Rooms could be booked up to a week in advance, but same-day reservations were not allowed. Under the new system, rooms can now be booked in 30-minute segments, though the three-hour maximum remains the same. Students still must reserve rooms at least 12 hours in advance.

As with the former Google Docs system, a reservation schedule will be posted on each study room every day.

“If nobody’s signed up for the rooms, they’re first come, first served,” Department of Access Services Circulation/Reserves Coordinator Jeffrey Popovich said. “If it’s empty, it’s yours until somebody who has booked it shows up.”

The new system uses a program called LibCal by Springshare, a calendaring app for libraries that has been used by the library at the School of Foreign Service campus in Doha, Qatar.

“We were initially going to reserve rooms through [Gelardin New Media Center’s] checkout system, but it didn’t really have the parameters that we needed,” Department of Access Services Head Deborah Cook said. “We were lucky enough to be able to do some testing. Qatar Library already had the system up and running for about a couple of months, and it looked like it was working well for them, so we decided to give it a try.”

According to Popovich, library administrators began discussing a revamp of the reservation system months ago.

“It was finding the right product in terms of ease of use for our patrons. The idea for using this particular product has been going on for about two months,” Popovich said. “It was across the entire library, so it was a very collaborative process.”

The Department of Access Services, Gelardin New Media Center, the Library Information Technology Department and Library Administration were involved in the transition.

“It would have been difficult for Access [Services] just to do it on our own because we needed technology support to get it running smoothly and up on the web,” Cook said.

Popovich said the new system has proven easy to use.

“It’s a very intuitive system, so setting up the parameters we wanted was easy,” Popovich said. “Then, it was just a matter of testing it and making sure all of the things that needed to be done from the technology side of the website got done.”

Despite the extensive testing the library staff performed before the new system’s launch, however, the program went live with a minor glitch: a nonfunctional button labeled “Add to Calendar” pops up when the user receives a second confirmation notice.

“It’s certainly not a show-stopper. It’s better getting it up and running than to wait for [Google Calendars] to fix it,” Popovich said.

According to Cook, the new system will reduce errors and improve booking efficiency.

“Previously … we would get a lot of emails and calls about booking rooms, and sometimes there would be an error where we would put them in the wrong room, so this is hopefully error-free, and everybody gets what they want,” Cook said. “It’s so much better than what we had before.”

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