Over time, the volume of mail students receive has been trending downward while the number of packages has been rising. This change became so pronounced that when planning for mail and package storage and retrieval began for the residence halls on North Campus four years ago, a dramatic change was implemented. With the opening of the new buildings comes the package locker system (think Amazon lockers) housed at the Willow Regional Desk. And as for individual mailboxes, they’re gone, replaced by a high-density storage system holding folders for the mail.
Even before the North Campus rebuild, evidence of the mail shift was underway on West Campus with yearly package rate increases of 20% a year.
A Desk Services Representative scans a package's label at a kiosk station.
For packages, the items come into the loading dock of Willow Hall, go into a temporary storage unit, and are brought up to the locker floor (one floor below the Willow Desk). There the packages are processed via scanning software and receive a label that can be read by one of four locker kiosk stations. An assistant places a package’s label on the scanner and, like magic, a properly sized locker door swings open. The package goes in, and the recipient receives an email notification with a pin number and/or QR code and directions to the correct locker kiosk.
When students go to pick up their packages, they simply go to the correct kiosk, type in the pin number or scan the QR code, and, again, the package locker door swings open for item retrieval. Boxes too large for the 700 variably-sized lockers (or containing perishables) are picked up at a staffed package service window.
The properly sized locker opens and the package goes in. Plus an email notification message is sent to the student.
The student just goes to the proper kiosk, enters a pin number or scans a QR code and the locker door swings open this time for pickup.
The no-mailbox solution required additional thought and energy. Ultimately, shelves went up in the room behind the Willow Desk. The shelves’ rows of folders have a bar code attached. A piece of mail going into a specific folder gets scanned and a matching bar code attached to it, Using the same tracking system as for packages, an email is sent to the student who comes to the front desk. The front desk assistant scans the student’s Husky Card; the tracking system indicates which folder holds the mail, which the assistant can then retrieve.
In the boxless mailroom behind the Willow Desk, mail goes into holding folders (taking the place of the traditional mailboxes).
For students, the package system is easy to use and convenient. The HFS teamwork involved in problem solving, developing and testing the solution, and keeping the system operating daily is a testament to the team’s planning abilities and their desire to improve the students' Husky Experience.