LibCal allows you to set up a 2-way sync between Exchange calendars and LibCal spaces so that reservations you make via Exchange will automatically block off availability in the Spaces module, and reservations made via Spaces are automatically pushed to Exchange! This is a huge win for libraries with spaces that can be reserved both by the public (via LibCal) and by staff (via meeting requests in Exchange). This integration will keep your reservations in sync, no matter where a booking request originates.
Another benefit of the Exchange support: it will make it even easier to integrate with touchscreen panels. LibCal Spaces offers full read/write APIs for integration with these types of panels, and many of these panels already support integration with Exchange. This means you can potentially integrate LibCal Spaces with these types of panels, without having to do any custom coding. This integration means that availability stays synchronized across all possible booking points, with minimal setup effort.
How it works
This feature enables you to push new LibCal Space Bookings, updates to Bookings and Booking cancellations instantly to your Outlook/Exchange "Resources". Resource mailboxes can be included as resources in meeting requests, providing a simple and efficient way to manage the scheduling of resources for your organization.
Appointments booked via your Spaces will show up, almost instantly, in your Outlook/Exchange Resource Calendar. This way, you'll know when an appointment has been scheduled, or cancelled, almost instantly.
- Your Outlook Resource Calendar will contain the name and email address of the person who booked the space.
- Appointment times will be imported as UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) into the resource calendar, however, Outlook will convert this to your local time zone.
- LibCal will treat the resource as busy when an appointment is marked as either 'Busy', 'Out of Office' or 'Working Elsewhere' status. These are defined within the Outlook appointment.
But wait, what if the resource is booked via Outlook/Exchange?
No worries - just add the event to your Outlook/Exchange resource calendar as you normally would, LibCal will obtain the Free/Busy information and will not try to create a booking at this time.
This 2-way sync will:
- Remove the booking time slot from Public Interface so users can't book time with the resource.
- Show as 'BUSY in Outlook' on the Admin Interface.
And voila! You'll have successfully prevented a double-booking disaster while improving your workflows!
Step 1. Connect a location to Outlook/Exchange
To connect a location to your Exchange server:
- Go to Admin > Spaces & Equipment.
- Under the Locations tab, click on the location's edit () icon in the Action column.
- Click on the Outlook/Exchange tab in the location's settings.
Outlook/Exchange Connection Settings
In order to begin syncing your Outlook resources with your LibCal space bookings, you must first connect LibCal to your Exchange server. If you are unsure of any of the below settings, please ask your IT staff for the correct ones to use.
- Enter your Exchange server's domain name in the Server/Host field.
- The server address is usually your base Outlook Web App (OWA) address. A way of obtaining the server address is directly via 3rd party clients such as Outlook or even the Apple iPhone.
- In Outlook, you can find this under File > Account Settings > Email > Change > More Settings > Connection > Exchange Proxy Settings. You should see an https:// address: enter this (without the https://) in LibCal.
- From an iPhone, you can find this under Settings > Mail > Choose Account > Exchange Account > Server.
- Using Office 365? Your Server/Host name would be outlook.office365.com.
- Enter your Username.
- This is usually an email address or your Active Directory login (e.g. Staff\PSmith).
- Using Office 365? Your username would be your email address.
- Enter your Exchange Password.
- Click the Save Outlook/Exchange Settings button.
- If the connection is successful, a confirmation message will appear.
- Otherwise, an error will appear. Check your settings and try again.
Outlook/Exchange Bookings created from LibCal
When syncing with Exchange, you can choose whether to display the patron's name or the public nickname in your Outlook calendar events.
- In the Outlook/Exchange Bookings created from LibCal panel, use the Outlook/Exchange Event Title option to choose what to display in your synced events.
- Use patron name: this will display the first and last name of the patron who submitted the booking.
- Use patron name and email: this will display the first & name, as well as the email address, of the patron who submitted the booking.
- Use public nickname: if the category has public nicknames enabled and one was provided with the booking, then that display instead of the patron's name. If public nicknames are not enabled or one was not provided with the booking, then the synced events will not display a title in your Outlook calendar.
Outlook/Exchange Bookings in LibCal
When syncing with Exchange, you can choose to control the information for bookings from Outlook/Exchange that will appear in LibCal. When using the password authentication option, this will allow you to display the name of the Outlook account that created the booking in Outlook/Exchange.
After this is enabled, only new bookings synced from Exchange will populate the event creator's name. Existing Outlook/Exchange bookings will not be updated. You will need to disconnect and re-connect the sync at the space-level if you want this information to appear for currently synced Exchange bookings.
- In the Outlook/Exchange Bookings in LibCal panel, use the Populate Name/Email from Outlook/Exchange option to choose whether or not to display the name of the event creator for synced events.
- Note: when using the OAuth authentication method, the email address of the account can also be pulled into LibCal. Email address will not be displayed when using the password authentication option.
Step 2. Pair spaces with Exchange resources
To manage your spaces, go to Admin > Spaces & Equipment and click on the link in the Spaces column for your location.
Connecting a space to an Exchange resource
Once you've connected your location to your Exchange server, you're ready to begin pairing your spaces with specific Exchange resources. When you pair a space with a resource, this will ensure that their bookings remain in sync.
- Locate the category containing your space, then click on the space's Edit Space () icon in the Actions column.
- Click on the Outlook/Exchange tab in the space's settings.
- In the Password Authentication Outlook/Exchange Settings panel, enter the email address for the resource you want to sync in the Outlook/Exchange Resource field.
- Not sure what this should be? Check with your IT staff or Exchange administrator.
- Click the Save & Test Settings button.
- If the test is successful, a confirmation message will appear.
- Otherwise, you'll see an error. Correct your resource settings and try again.
- If you'd like, you can optionally import existing space bookings into your Exchange resource. Click the Run the Import button to continue.
How do I know if a booking synced?
When viewing a booking's details, look for the Outlook/Exchange Sync ID for each date/time in the booking.