This fall, the University Libraries implemented a seat reservation system to give students an opportunity to reserve their study spot before coming to the library. Students can book their study time and seat online for Newman Library, the Art and Architecture Library, Veterinary Medicine Library, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Library, and the Northern Virginia Center Library.

“The University Libraries is committed to the safety and welfare of our patrons and employees,” said Bob Pillow, University Libraries’ assistant director of user services. “Newman Library is a very popular study spot for undergraduate and graduate students in Blacksburg, so we wanted to provide students the space to work while also ensuring physical distancing.”

Close to 600 seats are reservable in Newman Library and are sectioned by floors in zones - Alumni Mall, Drillfield, and Plaza. Students can choose the type of seat, power availability, and seats with or without monitors. 

For Newman Library, a student or community member can reserve a seat for up to four hours a day. They can split their time throughout the day and even choose different seats. Booking lengths differ at the branches and are listed on their reservation sites.

Once students reserve their seats online and come to the library during their time slot, they will check in using the automated email they received when they booked their seat or the QR code attached to their seat. Kiosk stations on the second and fourth floors of Newman Library are available for check in if students or patrons don’t have a smartphone or laptop. 

Students are able to walk in and see if there’s a seat open, then reserve on the spot by using the kiosk or on their mobile device. However, if students sit down at an open seat and don’t reserve it, they could be bumped.

The University Libraries provides cleaning supplies at stations around the seating zones so students can wipe down their study area. There will be a 15-minute cushion between bookings for students to clean their seat before sitting down to study and prior to leaving when their time is up.

“This cleaning practice is similar to when you go to the gym and wipe down the treadmill before you get on it and then wipe it off when you finish your workout,” said Pillow.

The technology behind this reservation system, LibCal seats module by Springshare, was launched in June and the University Libraries was one of the first to adopt it. 

“Because library seating is significantly reduced due to physical distancing requirements, we wanted to offer patrons an opportunity to view seat availability and reserve their seat  online before they walked in our doors,”  said Jonathan Bradley, University Libraries head of studios and innovative technologies. “COVID-19 may have instigated the use of this system, but depending on how it works and is received by our library users, we may continue to use it into the future.” 

For more information about University Libraries fall updates and the reservation system, visit the library’s Ready site.