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Class Request Tool Upgrades

The Class Request Tool (CRT) is an application that invites instructors to request assistance, space, and time for teaching. 


Harvard Library is pleased to announce the release of a significant set of upgrades to the Class Request Tool (CRT), an open-source application with broad utility to archives and special collections with active teaching programs. Over the past three years Houghton Library has led the development of the CRT, created in partnership with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Harvard Library Technology Services with the support of two Harvard Library Lab grants made possible by the Arcadia Fund. The application has evolved over the course of more than 1,100 code commits, and the recent set of upgrades improve the tool’s functionality, user experience, and site-customization capabilities, making this an ideal time to explore what the Class Request Tool has to offer. Freely available under a General Public License, the CRT may be implemented by any interested site.

The Class Request Tool (CRT) is an application that invites instructors to request assistance, space, and time for teaching. Designed explicitly to support the unique classes held in archives and special collections, the CRT also offers a number of options to help highlight the services, collections, and pedagogical possibilities of engagement with primary sources. Transparent descriptions of a repository’s policies, services, availability, and procedures are presented alongside a direct means to request, at any time, the space and services needed to support classes. CRT was built not only to manage current demands for classes, but to assist in increasing capacity and meet growing demands. With the CRT, inefficient and time-intensive processes of scheduling classes are turned into quick tasks of no more than a few minutes undertaken by requestors. For staff, the CRT organizes all incoming and received class requests neatly in a shared space and provides a useful administrative view on teaching activities.

The Class Request Tool:

Interacts with Atlas Systems' Aeon circulation system for special collections, significantly reducing data entry needs

Handles booking classes from start to finish, keeping a traceable record of interactions

  • Accepts requests via authenticated form
  • Automatically routes requests to relevant teaching staff and administrators
  • Handles scheduling of classes
    • Supports variety of scheduling options:
      • Single session classes,
      • Multi-section classes, and
      • Multiple session classes
  • Provides dynamic dashboard for staff to see and sort all upcoming classes at a repository
  • Accepts notes from instructors and library staff on class details and maintains them in a shared environment
  • Sends out post-class assessment to instructors (optional) and automatically shares feedback with staff

Collects data for assessment and reporting

  • Natively creates reports on key metrics
  • Allows for download of class request data in .csv
  • Allows for download of assessment data in .csv

Supports library and archives staff in customizing sites without developer intervention, through Admin and Superadmin functionality

  • Customize site: enter welcome text, select images, taglines, captions and colors
  • Add repositories, calendars, rooms, staff services, technologies, policies, procedures, and users
  • Manage automated notifications
  • Easily add custom text to automated notifications
  • Customize affiliate options for focused reporting on use of services

Supports managing multiple repositories

  • Patrons can request a class at a specific repository, or defer that decision to administrators
  • Individual portal pages allow for per-repository display customization
  • Repositories can define and display individualized policies
  • Supports collaborative class activities between various repositories in the site

For technical requirements and more information, please visit our GitHub site and User Guide. To discuss the CRT in greater detail or to schedule a demo, please contact Emilie Hardman at Houghton Library. 

Article written by Emilie Hardman, research, instruction, and digital initiatives Librarian, Houghton Library; and Thomas Hyry, Florence Fearrington Librarian of Houghton Library and Director of Arts and Special Collections of the Harvard College Library.

Article published on June 8, 2016.