Intercept: a History
After almost nine years of thought, planning and implementation, it seems a good time to look back at the history of Intercept. What started as an idea to thank and reward customers evolved into the open source calendar, event management, and room reservation software we call Intercept today. Here’s a quick look back at how it all began.
Planning & Pilot
In 2013, the idea to scan customers at programs began in earnest as part of our 2013-2016 Strategic Plan goals. The team selected was charged with the following:
develop a formal way to learn preferences of individual customers, design communications and programs that resonate with our community, and say thank you.
The goal was to scan customers in at programs like we scan their cards to check out materials, thereby using their activity at the library to inform programming decisions and reward customers. The team of librarians, developers and program staff envisioned the process, researched the technology, and made it happen. The team piloted scanning customers at programs using bar code scanners and a third-party software customized to read and export library card barcodes. The pilot showed that customers were amenable, if inquisitive and a little hesitant, to scanning in at programs, but that the processes, hardware and software would be the main challenges.
Intercept Launches with Knight Funding
With an initial grant from the Knight Foundation, we began working with Aten Design Group of Denver, CO to ideate and develop the software, in conjunction with a new website for the library. Initially just the scanning portion, we quickly realized we were connecting outdated calendaring software and decided that including event, calendar and room management were integral to the project’s success.
Intercept launched, along with Richland Library’s new website, in the fall of 2018. Due to the large number of changes – new calendar, new room reserve, ILC integration, sunset of the OPAC – we did not begin scanning customers until 2019. In 2020, with a plan to begin scanning in earnest, Covid shut down our in-person operations. However, as soon as library staff began planning online programs, the benefits of Intercept became apparent, with registration, waitlist and export capabilities. Other backlog issues moved to the front, such as the ability to contact all customers with room reservations in case of an unexpected library closing, and the ability to block all rooms from future reservations for holidays and other closings.
Room Reservation, Event Registration and Program Evaluation
So what does Intercept do, exactly? Well, for staff, it’s the place they schedule events and programs, book rooms simultaneously, manage customer room reservations, log program attendance, and export data about their programs.
Customers, through their existing library card accounts, can book meeting or study rooms, register for or express interest in classes or programs, provide real-time feedback and report outcomes of the programs they attend. Based on their activities, customers receive customized recommendations. Think of it as a loyalty card that you swipe with each library interaction, and the perks received are better and customized referrals and recommendations. More of what you love.
Building the Community
Since launching the software in 2018, Richland Library and Aten Design Group have continued to iterate on the software, fixing bugs and adding enhancements as suggested by staff, customers, and other libraries. Some of the enhancements include the following:
- guest registration
- click-and-drag room reservations via a calendar
- reporting enhancements
- texting and/or emailing customers to rate events
- registration reminders via email
- bulk room reservations
- studio certification documentation for customers
We have demonstrated the software to other libraries through presentations at ALA, PLA, Computers in Libraries, Internet Librarian, OpenSource 101, NTen, and DrupalCon, and many one-on-one and small-group presentations, in pursuit of building the community of users so that Intercept becomes the Koha or Evergreen of library event management software.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, we have decoupled the software from our ILS, Polaris, so that it’s ready for other libraries to adopt. In fact, several other libraries have adopted Intercept: RAILS uses the base code of Intercept for their consortium library training website, and Camden County (NJ) and Huntsville-Madison (AL) have both adopted Intercept to their own needs.
And we, at Richland Library, are benefitting from our burgeoning community as well. After reviewing changes made by other users, we adopted a printable registration sheet from RAILS, and from Camden, we adopted a toggle to show filters on the Events page. Other libraries are actively making it their own, making it better and contributing back for the betterment of all users.
Building the community is our core goal as the product owners. Although we don’t know who they are, as of June 2022, Drupal.org shows 7 sites using the Intercept modules (https://www.drupal.org/project/intercept) and 12 sites using the Intercept Base theme (https://www.drupal.org/project/intercept_base).
Internal team determines needs and develops low-fi prototype
Richland Library applies for and receives Knight grant worth $247,500
Richland Library conducts extensive Request for Purchase process to find vendor to develop Intercept; benchmarked with Mid-Continent on developing their own event software
Richland hires Aten to develop Intercept, customer and staff interviews begin the discovery process
Design and development begin in earnest, with in-depth feedback from library team
Continued development towards both Intercept and new website in conjunction
Intercept launches in conjunction with new library website, continuous improvement, bug fixes and feature enhancements in monthly sprints
|Jan 2019||Rooms needed for programs are overbooked||Develop simultaneous room res with event creation|
|Customers signed up for wait list but had no idea if or when they moved up – staff would have to call individually||Automated wait list to move customers up when space becomes available|
|Customers arrived at the desk with no knowledge of who made their group reservation; staff had no way to look up; created backlog at desk||Created ‘meetings’ calendar for large group room reservations of non-library events|
|Library closings – whether scheduled or emergency – were painful – each location’s rooms had to be manually blocked off||Developed Bulk closure feature and customer contact export|
|Need a way to export attendance data||Developed and continue to improve exports and reports|
|Other libraries requested information about Intercept||Developed libraryintercept.com microsite with link to code and information about Intercept; added a blog later for updates|
|2020||Intercept tied to Polaris ILS – other libraries will need connection to different ILS||Decoupled from Polaris so the connection is ready to be made to a different ILS|
|Libraries with limited budgets, different ILS or non-Drupal site cannot integrate into website||Created and maintain Upstream hosting agreement with Pantheon so that libraries with these limitations can take advantage of Intercept|
|Libraries constantly asked for individual demos||Filmed and published demo video to show Intercept capabilities and highlights|
|2021||Attendees were not finding the ratings feature||Develop functionality to automatically prompt ratings via email and/or text|
|Register non-cardholders with identifying information||Guest Registration|
|Customers were not finding recommendations on My Account page||Integrated “Recommended for you” in All Events page|
|Staff couldn’t communicate with customers who attended after an event||Developed export feature so that staff can email customers who registered, saved or scanned at event|
|RAILS launched forked version of Intercept|
|Camden County (NJ) developed, customized and launched Intercept|
|For large events, staff had to make many reservations||Developed bulk reservation feature so staff can create batches of room reservations at a single time for multiple rooms, dates and times|
|Staff views were unwieldy||Improved views on Staff side for Events|
|Huntsville-Madison County (AL) launched Intercept|
|Maker space staff needed a way to designate a customer’s certification to use a space||Added certification approval for different types of rooms and reports to export customers allowed to use each room|
|Staff needed more information about customers in making room reservations||Updated the calendar to show customer name to staff.|
|Upgraded to Drupal 9|
|2022||Only Polaris ILS worked with Intercept||Developed SIP2 connection so other ILS can integrate through this module|