How to manage a University library
Campuses are a beautiful thing... until you have to manage one. Then they become a beautiful nightmare. Luckily, there are tools that simplify your job. Like YArooms.
This guide assumes you have access to an existing YArooms account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for a free 14-day trial. Before we begin, let’s take a look at the things that make up the working environment - those that define the space we’re about to manage.
In the case of an University library, we have 2 big entities:
- The available rooms and their schedule
- The people using those rooms
The rooms are passive elements - they are acted upon. Users, on the other hand, are active elements that have to work together. So we’re going to tackle the rooms first, as they are the easiest to set up and introduce you to YArooms’ interface.
To learn the exact steps that need to be followed for the tutorial below, click on the links scattered around the text. Or check the bottom of this article for an overview.
Locations. Rooms. YArooms.
Just like in the real world, rooms in YArooms don’t exist in a vacuum. A room doesn’t just pop-up in the middle of the street, so it cannot simply appear in your account. It needs to be created within a larger structure - a building. Or, in our case, a location. A location is a collection of rooms - if you want to group multiple rooms in a certain way, you can define different locations for them. Even if they are in the same building. For instance, if your library is a 5-floor building, each floor can have its own location.
What is a location, then? A label with a timezone setting. So if you have a set of rooms dedicated to web conferences with people from the UK, you can designate a specific timezone for them (say, GMT) that doesn’t match your current city’s timezone. That way, your meetings will always take into account that timezone - 12:00 in that room will always be 12:00 in London. To see how to set up a location in YArooms, refer to the Locations entry in our help section.
Now that we’ve covered locations, let’s say we have 5 of them, named after cities:
- Los Angeles
- New York
Time to set up the rooms (or study areas). A room is an element that can only be used once at any given time. No two people can claim a room as their own at once - limited availability is the term that best describes rooms.
Because they’re elements your users will interact with quite a bit, they need to be:
- Trackable (from a usage point of view)
- Searchable/ identifiable
For a room to be bookable, it needs to be assigned to a User Group. We’ll go over that soon enough. But first, let’s talk about the other 2 requirements a room has to fulfill: trackability and searchability.
To track a room’s usage stats, you only need create it. However, if you associate an hourly cost/ income with the room, YArooms will give you a quick overview of what’s been happening revenue-wise.
To help a user find a room more easily you should:
- Name it appropriately; use your current naming scheme or, if you don’t have one, put one in place and mark your physical rooms as well (with sticky labels or plaques)
- Give it a colour code (this will reflect on the Monthly view as the meeting title’s colour)
- Give it a capacity
- Attach a suggestive image to the image - this will turn into a thumbnail on the Weekly and Daily views, enlarged on click
Your users will now be able to quickly identify a room in any of the Calendar views or use the “Search Room” feature in YArooms, where they can filter by availability, available resources and capacity.
You’re almost done here. Head over to Account > Global Settings > Schedule and set your operating hours. You can restrict bookings to those hours or not, that is up to you.
Not all users are created equal
That sounds harsher than it should. Thing is, you may want to enforce some rules for your bookings. Professors might have access to a couple of rooms not available to your students. Some seniors (or PhDs) might be able to book rooms without requiring supervision, while normal students should have their booking requests approved by a faculty member. Maybe you wish to give the Student Council a room of their own to manage. A room in which they decide whether to approve a booking or not.
To this end, you’ll want to set up User Groups. By default, YArooms has at least 2 groups (that cannot be removed): Admins and Supervisors. Think of Supervisors as gatekeepers - they’ll be the ones doing most of the approving/ declining of booking requests. Both Admins and Supers can see all rooms, and can book all rooms unrestrictedly. For all others, here’s what you need to do:
- Make a list of what each group can and cannot do:
- Can they see all rooms or just some of them?
- Can they book all rooms or just some of them?
- Do their bookings need to be approved in all rooms or just some?
- Can they cancel their bookings at any time?
- Give your groups names
- Use this guide to set up Group permissions
- Start adding your users to your groups (the guide above can walk you through that as well)
Now that you have your groups and users, let’s talk about that Student Council. Go to the Council’s president’s profile and enter the name of the room they’re supposed to manage under “Room Ownership”. They’ll now be able to approve/decline booking requests in that room.
Using YArooms without logging in. The Guest Account.
We’ll cover how the approval process works shortly. Before that, though, there’s a quick setting you should know of: Public Access.
If you don’t want to have separate user accounts for all students, you can enable Public Acces (under Account > Global Settings > Public Access). You’ll need a user group with the right permissions set up and at least 1 user in that group. Let’s call this user PA. After activating Public Access, guest users will be able to log into your YArooms domain just by clicking “Log In As Guest” on your login page. They’ll inherit the permissions set up for PA (and will all masquerade as that user).
Managing Booking Requests. The Approval Queue.
YArooms users can make quick bookings or advanced ones, depending on what they need to do - quickly reserve a room or set up a detailed meeting. If a user needs to have their bookings approved, they’ll show up as Pending on their account before they are handled by someone. Once a booking has been requested, YArooms sends out notifications to the Room Owner, Supervisor or Admin (the Gatekeepers) in charge of that room. If they’re already logged into YArooms, a short visit to the Approval Queue section (under Schedule) will convey a list of Pending Bookings. Gatekeepers can approve/ decline meetings as they are, or they can edit them before deciding.
Once a Room Booking has been approved, YArooms will inform the original booker that their request has been validated (or not) and update all associated calendar(s) - the main Calendar Views, the iCal Feeds, the Outlook Add-in and the Tablet App (iOS and Android).
Data makes the world go round.
If you need to access your usage stats, you can do so under the Reports section - see how many times a user booked a room (or multiple rooms), how much revenue some rooms generated and much, much, more. You can export all your data as a CSV file, open that up in a spreadsheet editor and generate graphs and charts based on it.
Don’t feel like reading the whole article above? Here’s a quick sum-up of what you need to set up (and how to do it):
- Rooms/ study areas
- With names, colour codes and pictures
- Meeting types (to specify the purpose of the booking)
- Operating Schedule
- Setting up user groups
- Room Owners
- Students (registered) - require approval
- Students (public user) - require approval
- Professors (registered) - book unrestrictedly
- 3rd parties (registered) - require approval
- The booking process
- Quick book
- Advanced booking
- Inviting people
- The approval process
- Quick Approve/ Decline
- Edit, then approve booking
- Extracting usage reports
- Generating graphs (sample spreadsheet coming soon)