Library App Providers Launch Curbside Pickup Schedulers

As states and cities suspend coronavirus-related shutdown orders, two library apps—ConverSight LIBRO and CapiraMobile—are introducing curbside pickup features that will enable library staff to fulfill requests for books and other physical materials while maintaining social distancing recommendations and minimizing personal contact with patrons.

car with a checkmark logoAs states and cities suspend coronavirus-related shutdown orders, two library apps—ConverSight LIBRO and CapiraMobile—are introducing curbside pickup features that will enable library staff to fulfill requests for books and other physical materials while maintaining social distancing recommendations and minimizing personal contact with patrons.

ConverSight LIBRO is a voice-activated app that enables patrons to use natural language to search library catalogs; manage holds, renewals, and fees; learn about upcoming library events; reserve meeting rooms; read audiobooks; and more using the smartphone app or a smart speaker device (currently available on Amazon Alexa, with support also planned for Apple Siri and Google Home devices).

The new curbside pickup function, launched this month, will allow patrons to search the catalog, confirm item availability, and then schedule a time for pickup. On the back end, libraries receive notifications through a dashboard system that helps staff manage orders from receipt through fulfillment. Prior to pickup, the app asks patrons to confirm their time, and offers instructions specific to a library or branch’s current protocols—such as driving to a designated area, opening their trunk, and notifying branch staff that they have arrived. Patrons can also offer feedback on the experience if they choose, with patron satisfaction tracked in the dashboard system.

CapiraMobile is a non–voice activated app that also enables catalog search, holds management, account management, event search and calendar integration, as well as subscription database integration, push notifications, iBeacon integration, and more. In addition to the new curbside pickup functionality, which the company will launch on June 1, Capira has been emphasizing other app features that facilitate social distancing, including self-checkout capabilities using the integrated camera in a patron’s device, and mobile library card signup, which enables patrons to register for or renew their library card by taking a photo of their ID and any supporting documents and transmitting the image to the library.

With Capira’s new curbside feature, patrons can schedule pickup times, as well as include details about the make, model, and license plate number of their car to help library staff identify it. The back-end console also allows library staff to limit the number of patrons for each time slot and set alerts for staff when patrons arrive.

“Think ‘Instacart’ but instead of groceries…for holds delivery in the library’s parking lot,” Capira’s website currently explains.

Contactless curbside delivery will have an obvious utility in the weeks and months to come, as libraries work through the challenges inherent to providing access to service and resources while observing social distancing protocols for staff and patron safety. However, representatives from both companies said that the feature could catch on as a new service option.

Mike Rossetti, director of sales for Conversight.ai, said that customers who had expressed interest in the new feature “don’t view it as a short-term thing. They’re already thinking that they may keep it as a long-term convenience.”

In recent weeks, Capira Technologies has been receiving “numerous inbound requests” for information about any features that might help facilitate social distancing, including curbside delivery and self-checkout, said Steve Hanulec, senior accounts executive. As difficult as it will be in a public service environment, as libraries reopen, many library leaders “want to minimize contact between patrons and staff.”

Capira and Conversight will both host webcast demos of their new curbside pickup scheduling features on May 21.

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Matt Enis

menis@mediasourceinc.com

@MatthewEnis

Matt Enis (matthewenis.com) is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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