Public access computers (PACs) are an essential feature of the public library landscape, providing some patrons with their only access to computers and the Internet, and offering other patrons an attractive alternative to their home or office computing environment. Ensuring that everyone has equitable access to library computers is very important, but making it happen can be time consuming and labor intensive for library staff. Moreover, the need to continually remind patrons that their time is up and to encourage reluctant users to move on can be stressful for patrons and staff alike.
For higher education, many libraries face the same challenges with students and community visitors. College librarians and computer lab managers want to ensure everyone has fair access to computers when they need them. Also, classrooms and computers need to be reserved in blocks to accommodate schedules.
In the library, staff can use a computer reservation system to enforce time limits, randomly assign computers, create specific groups of computers for "high turnover" express sessions, adult or child use, and restrict access to patrons with excessive fines. Send messages to patrons who don't follow library policies and/or disturb others. Smoothly terminate sessions and disable computers to avoid awkward confrontations.
Around campus, or longer lasting sessions. Create block reservations for special events or classes. Talk about real-life examples and uses for both sectors. Help library staff "take care" of the patrons who stay on computers all day. Reserve computer labs for classes and projects.
Reservation types (how users log into a computer):
"Walk up" or immediate
Queued - put name on list for next available computer
Scheduled - make a reservation for a specific date/time in future
Block - make scheduled reservation for multiple computers
Other: Stand-by, express, self-extend sessions
What to look for in a computer reservation system?
Easy self-serve use by patrons and students
Easy to use for Library and IT Staff
Simple to set up, yet highly configurable
Integrates with your print management system for seamless patron experience
Allow patrons to make reservations on your website
Allow the library staff to enforce policies fairly and without confrontations
"Plays nicely" with 3rd party security, restoration, and filtering software