Drive Awareness and Increase Funding with Room Reservation Software

Jan 29, 2019 | Articles

Your library serves as a community hub, a place where community members can not only check out print materials and e-resources, but where they can gather and attend valuable programs. There’s another resource your library offers that may be underutilized — meeting rooms. These private spaces are the perfect place for community groups to meet, as well as for individuals to read, write, or study.

If you’re like many other libraries, your room reservation process is still quite manual, relying on spreadsheets or even paper schedules. You may feel hesitant to move to a software designed specifically to manage room reservations since it requires an investment and you’re not sure that the extra expense will be worth it.

Well, have we got good news for you: Using library room reservation software can actually make your library money while helping you expand your reach in the community. Read on to learn how.

Increased Awareness Creates More Library Users — and Advocates

The benefits of using library room reservation software go way beyond simply reducing your paper consumption and streamlining the process. Software can:

  • Provide a way to promote your meeting spaces. Paper schedules and spreadsheets both work when it comes to managing room reservations, but these methods rely on community members knowing that your library has spaces to offer them. What about those who haven’t been to a branch in a while and are therefore unaware of your library’s available meeting areas? Software not only handles the logistics of reservations, but many of these tools have built-in ways to further promote your rooms to your community as well.
  • Maximize your investment in physical spaces: Schreiner Memorial Library in Wisconsin recognized that they weren’t getting the most out of their meeting rooms when they completed a 10-year renovation that included the addition of a large community meeting space. The library saw this new room not just as extra usable square footage, but as “an opportunity to rebrand ourselves as a community center,” said Library Director Jennifer Bernetzke. By implementing online room reservation software, the library was able to promote its rooms online as well as in-branch, which led not only to an increase in meeting room bookings, but increased awareness of all of the library’s services.

  • Attract new library users. At Schreiner Memorial, library staff noticed that when more and more community members began using their meeting space, many of these people became regular visitors to the library. “We absolutely have more patronage now from people who weren’t originally library users,” Bernetzke shared. “Community members would come in for a meeting and realize we have DVDs they can check out, or they would see in-branch promotional materials about other programs that fit their interests. Patrons who never used the library in the past now identify themselves as library users because of our community space.”
  • Increase your funding. If you’re not leveraging your rooms to reach new community groups, you’re missing out on a chance to not only expand your library’s user base but your support base as well. When community members are unaware that your library is more than just a place to borrow books, they don’t have all of the information that they need to advocate for you where it matters: at the voting box. In this way, an investment in room reservation software is an investment in the voters who ensure your library gets the funding it needs.
  • Save time and money. Schreiner Memorial not only increased community engagement by implementing an online room reservation tool, but the library was able to see a significant financial return on their investment in this software as well. Not only did the library save thousands of dollars annually as staff were able to focus on more value-added tasks (and less on manual room management tasks), but the library saw donations from room bookings exceed the annual cost of the software. From business meetings to 4-H gatherings, baby showers to birthday parties, the demand for the community space was high. Community members could see a clear value in supporting their library with a donation to reserve the space, and the library in turn had more funds — and more time! — to put into its other programming, resources, and services.

Ready to Make the Most of Your Meeting Spaces?

Perhaps the best news about library room reservation software is that you don’t have to make a long-term commitment to it. Schreiner Memorial convinced its decision-makers to make the jump from paper and pen to dedicated reservation software by planning to try Demco Software’s Spaces for just one year — and they ended up never looking back. Read more about what convinced the library to commit to Spaces in this case study.

Kayla Fargo

As Demco Software's Marketing Director, Kayla champions our efforts to educate public libraries on the need for a robust community engagement strategy. She works alongside our other teams to ensure that Demco Software's solutions effectively complement and amplify libraries' community engagement efforts.