The Metra Smart lockers, through an integration with the University’s RFID campus ID cards, created a way for students, faculty, and staff to retrieve their ordered materials on their own time — and created a touchless way to do it. The result? A solution that’s still big on service — and bigger in efficiency.
The Z. Smith Reynolds Library (or ZSR for short), provides services to over 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students at Wake Forest University, a private research university in North Carolina, USA.
Prior to the library’s smart lockers, the library had a system for fulfilling reference material requests — but it was one predicated on human contact and movement. When COVID-19 started to become a reality in the United States, and campus buildings across the country were shutting down, the library’s Associate Dean, Mary Beth Lock, and her staff members realized that while it was born out of necessity, the situation gave them an opportunity to understand if they could still provide the same level of service with a contactless solution.
For the first few months, the library utilized a bank of day-use lockers with pin padlocks — and library staff quickly realized that the solution wouldn’t work in the long run. Books, reference materials, and even computers that faculty would send to the University’s tech department — would need to be placed in these lockers — and housing a valuable computer in a paper bag was not going to cut it. The library had to trust everyone accessing the locker bank to use the honor system and only take what belonged to them.
The University’s RFID system — the same system used for the school’s campus ID cards — is integrated with the Metra Smart locker system, so “it tells the locker system who’s coming to pick up the materials,” says James Harper, Interim Director of Access Services as ZSR.
When the student or faculty member approaches the locker bank, they scan their card at the locker bank’s screen, and the locker door with their reserved items pops open — creating a touchless and contactless experience.
“The solution has been able to help us move quickly from our cobbled-together effort to something that fits so seamlessly it seems like it’s always been here.”