BookedIn books in!

BookedIn, our social platform for gamifying and sharing your Library activity launched on Monday. The Library’s Marketing and Communications team have performed sterling work creating promotional badges and digital displays pointing students to My Manchester where they can access BookedIn via the Library tab. And of course keen members of staff can play directly via the BookedIn website.

What can you currently do in BookedIn? Well, in a nutshell, –

  • BookedIn gamifies your Library activity
    • Gain points each time you scan into a Library
    • Gain points each time you borrow a book
    • For each book you borrow you can
      • Rate it with stars
      • Write a review
      • Recommend it to a friend
    • You can make friends with other players
    • They can see your activity feed and which books you have borrowed
    • You gain virtual challenge badges for specific activities, for example reviewing 10 items or visiting a Library 5 times before 10am

You see all this via a web interface, scaling well on a smartphone screen.

BookedIn friends activity feed

Where did this all begin?

Back in 2012 the Library’s freshly formed Innovation Group discussed ideas for rewarding customer loyalty and encouraging engagement with the Library. We got as far as coffee style reward stamp cards, but now we have spangly new self-service machines, all of our Library based rubber stamping facilities have been buried deep in the New Mexico Desert. We stowed the idea, pending a brainwave.

Thankfully, our students showed their innovative prowess in the Eureka! 2013 competition, and suddenly we had a raft of ideas on rewarding positive behaviour, collecting points, gamification, mobile apps, book reviews and resource ratings.

We began to explore these ideas. We knew the University of Huddersfield Library had worked with creative software developers to build Lemontree to gamify elements of Library activity. We invited these developers, Running In The Halls (RITH), to attend a focus group with a mix of students to delve deeper and see if there was mileage in progressing further.

Student focus group

The feedback from the students was very positive so we worked to define a solid plan to create something a bit different from your usual Library service to get students engaged with us. RITH would build on their experience from Lemontree to create a bespoke platform for The University of Manchester, taking the concept to the next level.

At this point things got really interesting, because The University of Glasgow Library had a similar interest to Manchester in exploring gamification and sharing. Before you know it, we had a collaborative project between Manchester, Glasgow and the development team at RITH working together to create a new social gamification platform for our Libraries. Whilst RITH did the hard work on all aspects of development, both Universities worked together to run focus groups and sessions with groups of students to inform the direction the project was taking. It would be no use creating something if the students didn’t get it.


It was interesting to see how students distinguished between the kind of sharing you do on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on a personal <-> professional scale (BookedIn was somewhere in the middle).  They also gave it a name; BookedIn (other suggestions included Books Buddy, Go Mancs and BookPals).

Students and staff were then involved with testing the early incarnations of BookedIn ironing out any bugs before launch. Fast forward to Start of Year 2014/15 and we now have lift off. The University of Glasgow launched their version Librarytree last week and have reported several hundred sign-ups in the first couple of days.

What next?

The launch is just the first step. Initially we need to build the critical mass of players to make BookedIn a platform worth the user investing their time in. Because that’s where the interest is; competing with your friends to gain more points/badges and in seeing what your friends and other people are reading and reviewing.

Next, we’ll be introducing some of the other features lined up in the coming months. And then the  most interesting bit will be speaking to the students about what they think but also looking at the underlying data to see if we can gain insight on what sort of impact BookedIn has on how students use the Library.

An exciting project and lots more to come!

BookedIn tree


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