Flexibility and ease of use: these are the terms that appear most frequently in descriptions of room and event scheduling software. As such, this product spotlight feature highlights software that exemplifies these qualities, from both companies that specialize in providing solutions for libraries and those with a broader client base.
The web-based calendars listed below don’t just facilitate room reservations and event and resource management; most also include public view calendars, regular updates, support and training sessions, and the ability to generate reports and send emails. The most flexible systems allow for considerable customization: several programs, for instance, can be configured to require patrons to enter their library card numbers in order to register for events online; some permit administrators to add data fields as needed.
Because the programs are capable of such a wide range of services, from patron-initiated room requests to sophisticated security and approval features, an exhaustive list of each program’s features simply isn’t possible. What follows instead is a brief overview of some of the most popular room and event scheduling software.
Products: Events, Room Reserve, SignUp, Spaces, D!BS
Company: Evanced Solutions, Indianapolis (DEMCO)
Evanced’s software is built to each library customer’s specifications and allows for an unlimited number of users and events. In addition to Events and its companion Room Reserve, first introduced in 2002, Evanced recently introduced SignUp and Spaces. These are “modern-looking, intuitive, and easier to use,” according to Evanced president and cofounder Rob Cullin (a 2007 LJ Mover & Shaker). Meanwhile, “The original platform offers more control and flexibility.” (Current users can switch to the newer programs at no cost.) Evanced also recently launched D!BS, an unmediated room-booking module for academic libraries; students are the main users of this mobile-integrated program.
Cullin notes that programs are automatically updated on a weekly basis, and “recent updates include supplementary authentication options and social media integration.” Prices start at $450 a year per subscription.
Products: EventKeeper, EKRooms, EKRegistration
Company: Plymouth Rocket, MA
This provider of library solutions allows users to list programs on their library’s homepage, send mail, and schedule repeating events. Room reservation requests can be made online; approval from staff converts these requests into reservations. EventKeeper also incorporates social media into the mix, enabling libraries to display upcoming activities on Facebook and Twitter pages. And for handheld device users, there’s an EventKeeper Mobile app.
EventKeeper add-ons include EKRegistration, which enables libraries to include a registration form with events, and EKRooms, a room and equipment management program. A one-year subscription (starting at $250) allows users to manage up to 300 events, 30 notes, and three editors at any one time; according to Plymouth Rocket’s Jim Stewart, free enhancements to the core application are rolled in automatically.
Company: Library Insight, Groton, MA
rm.Insight combines room, equipment, event, and program management in one program—there’s no need for add-ons. Users can configure the software to allow online registration for events and programs by patrons, along with registration limits as well as wait list management.
Other features include the ability to send automatic reminder emails to patrons, online patron-initiated meeting space requests, and the Marquee option, which lets libraries present event and program information on the website’s homepage.
Product: Meeting Room Manager
Company: Asure Software, Austin, TX
Cloud-based Meeting Room Manager bills itself as an Outlook “add-in” solution: it synchronizes with the popular Microsoft program and enables simultaneous scheduling with Microsoft LiveMeeting and Cisco Meetingplace. There are also Meeting Room Manager apps for iPad and iPhone users.
Additionally, Meeting Room Manager provides a shared online SocialView Public Calendar, while the browser-based Report Designer allows users to create or modify reports based on data collected in the program.
“Our customers don’t have to worry about buying any additional hardware or maintaining servers—in fact, they have no ongoing maintenance whatsoever on their end because we take care of all of that for them,” notes regional sales manager Anne Reed. “All you need is an Internet connection, and your users can access the application on the go, anytime, from anywhere.”
Product: Connect Daily
Company: MH Software, Inc., Broomfield, CO
In addition to event management and resource scheduling on an unlimited number of calendars and the importation of data from remote calendars, Connect Daily provides a strong social media component: events can be posted to Facebook and Twitter, and there’s a WordPress Calendar Plugin. The patron experience is also stressed; for smartphone and tablet users, Connect Daily offers optimized views with simple interfaces. Additionally, end users can subscribe to the calendar, which can be configured to allow members of the public to add events.
Connect Daily can be installed on the library’s server or hosted by MH Software. For installation on 25 computers, nonprofit pricing starts at $575; support and training are included.
Company: Brown Bear Software, Anchorage, AK
Integration with other software and social media is emphasized with Calcium, which provides dynamic calendar merging with programs from Apple, Microsoft, and Google, plus email, including automatic reminders. Calcium can also incorporate an RSS feed, so libraries can inform subscribers about upcoming events. Following installation, all administration, including editing and adding of events and custom event fields, is done on the user’s web browser; one installation supports unlimited calendars.
A new version of Calcium will be out this year. “This will be somewhat modernized to better support large installations (thousands of calendars) and easier integration without systems,” says Brown Bear’s Fred Steinberg.
Company: Calendarix Enterprise, Singapore
Calendarix’s scope is large: it can provide an unlimited number of calendars and events, which in turn can be accessed by an unlimited number of users. This calendar can be viewed by members of the public; unusually, Calendarix is available in multiple languages, including Basque, Chinese, and Slovenian.
The basic version of Calendarix is free. An advanced edition, which offers features like RSS feeds (and integration of external RSS channels), additional customized data fields, and emailed event notification and scheduled reminders, is available for a small fee. Nonprofit licensing starts at $50.