or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Library Events Calendar Roundup

   October 13th, 2009 Brian Herzog


library calendarAn important function of the library is communicating our upcoming events to the community. There are lots of ways to do this, one of which is by having an online calendar.

Of course, there are also lots of software for online calendars and for patrons to reserve meeting rooms. My library just switched calendars, and so did the Blue Hill (ME) Public Library. Since we each evaluated a number of different calendar options, Rich Boulet and I combined our notes, in the hopes of saving other libraries a bit of legwork when looking at calendars.

There are more calendars than what is listed here (in no particular order), and our pro/con notes reflect the needs, requirements and situations of our individual libraries. If you have questions about how we made our decisions, you can contact me through my contact form, and Rich through Blue Hill Library's staff page.

Library Insight     (Rich, Brian)

  • See Groton (MA) Public Library for example
  • Patrons can submit room requests online
  • Comes with 1200 images
  • Marquee of upcoming available for index page
  • SIP2 compliant
  • Will not disclose how many clients use product, but says they are "in 20 states"
  • $695/year plus $600 setup fee
  • Contact: Steve Bolduc / 978-808-1089
  • More info: http://libraryinsight.com/products/rmInsight.htm

Google Calendar     (Rich)

Evanced     (Rich, Brian)

  • See Chelmsford (MA) Public Library and Blue Hill (ME) Public Library (calendar, room reservation) for examples
  • Looks like most comprehensive product available
  • Used by Maine State Library, Web Junction and many public libraries
  • Allows user-initiated requests for room reservation
  • Allows attendee registration and cancellation
  • Somewhat pricey relative to others in market, but unlimited in number of listed events, and no module pricing (except credit card processing is extra)
  • Allows some design customization, to make it look like your website
  • Most powerful calendar search options
  • Locally-hosted installation requires Microsoft IIS 4.0 or higher and has more up-front costs, plus 18%/year maintenance fees
  • Remotely hosted solution carries ongoing subscription costs
  • Seamless integration between web calendar and room reservation software allows users to click off on room policy
  • Calendar allows events to be downloaded to Outlook
  • Offers customizable rss feeds based n search criteria
  • Can be used to track program stats
  • Contact: Claudia Hackworth / 317-352-2188 x109
  • More info & demos: http://evancedsolutions.com/demo.asp

Calandarix     (Rich)

  • See Rockport (ME) Public Library for example
  • Very attractive and very affordable web calendar
  • Does not apparently allow patron-initiated requesting of rooms
  • Compatible with Apache or IIS
  • No remote hosting option, requires local install
  • Cost: Advanced edition is $50 for non-profits; also comes in a
    free basic version
  • More info: http://www.calendarix.com

Eventkeeper     (Rich, Brian)

  • See Hingham (MA) Public Library for example
  • Seems to do everything that Evanced does, but in a very different style
  • Pricing is generally less than Evanced, but is somewhat variable based on modules and number of events
  • Can customize and brand calendar for additional one-time fee, integrate it more with the look and feel of the rest of your web site
  • Also "EK Feed" can can be rss feed marquee of upcoming events for library's homepage
  • Only available as remotely hosted product, no local installation
  • Currently have 1200 customers
  • Exceptional customer support
  • Can be used to track program statistics
  • No maintenance fees (other than annual hosting)
  • Eventkeeper: $275/year; EK Rooms: $250/year; EK Feed (marquee)
  • Contact: Jim Stewart / 508-942-4209
  • More info: http://www.eventkeeper.com

Meeting Room Manager     (Rich)

ConnectDaily     (Brian)

  • See San Bruno (CA) Library for example
  • Reasonably priced
  • Remotely hosted with varying contract lengths
  • Allows a great deal of design customization, to integrate with the look of your website
  • Serves as both a calendar and meeting room reservation system
  • A limitation is that it is designed as an "in-house" product (example, a school would use it for the teachers to reserve meeting rooms). It does have a public room reservation form, but take a little work to customize to be easy enough for the public to use
  • Allows for multiple calendars (Childrens, Adult, Teen, etc) all to be fed up into one master calendar
  • Events available in rss and iCal formats
  • More info: http://www.mhsoftware.com/connectdaily.htm

Calcium     (Brian)



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Museum Pass Software

   March 20th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Plymouth Rocket logoMy library is in the process of changing over to a new software package to manage our museum passes. I don't know about other libraries, but the museum passes we provide to patrons (which actually are all paid for by our Friends group) are many, and are very popular.

For about the two years, we've been using Library Insight's product, which for the most part worked very well. Their interface was clean and simple, and, as far as I know, the software overall was pretty stable.

But, it is also fairly expensive and not very flexible. Museum passes vary greatly in requirements, and the limitations of the software prohibited us from doing some of what we wanted to do. We approached the vendor on a few different occasions, but they never seemed all that open to modifications.

So, we're switching to Plymouth Rocket's TixKeeper software. We visited their booth at the last NELA show, and have been in touch with them over the last few months, waiting to launch until our Library Insight contract expired.

And as far as being in contact with them, they have been great. Their interface (demo mode) is very different than what we (and our patrons) were used to, but they've been very accommodating in listening to us and suggesting areas that could be modified. I just had a phone training session with their Customer Service manager, and even though we go live on April 1st (just two weeks), she is still willing to tweak things based on our questions.

As I said, their interface is a little different. After their first demo sales call, I created a very basic side-by-side comparison [pdf] of the two systems, showing the different screens a patron would see in each to accomplish the same thing. TixKeeper took almost twice as many screens to reserve a pass, which I did not like. In response, Ric Bailey (Plymouth Rocket's president and lead developer) streamlined the reservation process and cut out some of the unnecessary steps - now that is fantastic customer service.

And TixKeeper is just one product Plymouth Rocket offers. Their two other products, EventKeeper and EKRooms, are also packages we're considering adopting. EventKeeper is an online events calendar, and EKRooms is an online meeting room reservation system.

The beauty of their software is that if you have all three, they work together in an integrated way. Plus, they allow more functionality than our current systems. We have an events calendar, which is functional, but basic. Something I liked about EventKeeper is that it allows RSS streaming of events. And EKRooms would be a huge upgrade for us, considering we still book all our meetings rooms using a paper-based system. EKRooms allows patrons to initiate the process themselves, via our website, which will cut down dramatically on staff time spent managing the room reservations.

But the best part, as far as the budget is concerned, is that we can get all three of these packages for just about the same cost as Library Insight. We decided to go ahead with TixKeeper and hold off on the other two for now, just so we can get them working one by one, rather than trying to get everything set up all at once.

I think Plymouth Rocket has been around for awhile, and is currently working with over 700 organizations (libraries, towns, churches, etc.) in 38 states. I cannot emphasize enough how pleasant and accommodating their staff has been so far in the process, so if anyone is looking for web-enabled museum pass, event calendar or meeting room software, I would recommended checking them out.

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