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New features: Optional Checkout History and More

Wed, 12/14/2005 - 3:53pm by eli

Thanks to all your comments and suggestions, we've rolled out some new features for that will give you better information about how you use the Library.

The biggest news is the addition of an optional Checkout history that will allow you to easily keep track of the items you've previously checked out from the library, and even search through them for those times when you can't remember if you've read something. You can activate the recording of checkouts on your My Account page (just check 'Record Checkouts' in your preferences), and you can view any checkouts you make from then on from the 'Checkout History' button.

Once you've turned this service on, you can turn it off at any time, delete specific items, or delete your whole checkout history if you choose. Please note that we've made an addition to our Privacy Policy, under 'Checking Out Materials', to cover this new service. Also, know that only you can access your checkout history when you log in to Library staff can't access this information for you.

Read more to find out about other new enhancements...

In addition, we've made some enhancements to our checkouts and requests listings, including showing the full title and author, allowing you to set a default pickup location for requests (on that edit > preferences page, again!), and, removing the checkbox next to your checked-out items when they can't be renewed. In addition, to suit your scrolling vs. clicking preference, you can specify how many checkouts and requests we should show on your My Account summary page. You'll still see all your current Checkouts and Requests on their respective pages, but you can now decide how many of each show up when you first visit your account.

We've also added a new button to your account called Wireless Devices, which allows patrons who use the Library's wireless internet service (available at Downtown, Malletts Creek, and West Branch) to manage their registered devices and add new ones.

There's more to come in the near future, but for now, take these new services for a spin, and post your comments here (or contact us) to let us know what you think, especially if you find a bug!

Thanks for using!



Thanks for the new features! I had noticed most of them earlier, and even noticed the recording feature before it was available when it temporarily showed up. I think that will be very handy.

Another similar suggestion I have is to allow recording of requested materials. It doesn't happen often, but occasionally I can't make it to the library in time to pick up a requested item before the hold expires. Sometimes when that happens I forget what the item was and cannot request it again.

Thanks again!

Thanks for the new log of books checked out. This will be real helpful in figuring out which of the many videos on trains we've seen before.

It would be neat to have a few things in this collection - e.g. if you could mark up your book-reading history with comments, or if you could export your book-reading history in some kind of text format.

Edward Vielmetti

Those new features sound interesting, but it would really help me to have the interlibrary loan system back up. I've made two requests through interlibrary loan recently and as far as I can tell they've disappeared into the ether. One was made during the short period of time that MILE was working through this website and the other was a request handled by a staff librarian through this website. They were both over a month ago.

It would also be helpful to be able to redirect a hold to another library location after it's received. For example, I set my requests to go to the Main library, because I usually go downtown each Saturday to do other shopping. However, I'm within an easy walking distance from the Northeast branch library. I've had a few occasions in which a book I requested became available on Sunday or Monday. They were held for me for almost a week before I could pick them up downtown, delaying the book for me and everyone else in line. If I could have changed the location, I probably could have picked them up mid-week at Northeast, getting the material sooner and returning it sooner for others.

Just an FYI - the interlibrary loan stuff right now has nothing to do with AADL. The MILE website was hacked, and they are now working to get it back up and running.

If you made a request online before then, it's probably gone and will need to be re-made. But if you requested something with the librarians of AADL since the hack, it's probably still in the works. You could always call and check with them, so you can re-request if necessary.

Thanks for alerting us to this service; I hadn't noticed that it had become available.

To kjmclark : An idea -- why not have your requests sent to NE branch if that one is more convenient to you? Sounds like Downtown is only accessible on Saturdays, whereas NE is easier the rest of the week.

Thanks for your comments! Jenifer, saving requests is an interesting idea, maybe a button to save a request to your checkout history. Ed, comments and exports are planned, as well as the ability for your catalog searches to automatically show which of your hits you've already checked out.

kjmclark, as jenifer says, <a href="">TLN</a&gt;, the organization that runs MiLE, is working on restoring the upgraded service. We've done some preliminary testing with the new system, but there is not yet a date for the restoration of the service. As Jenifer said, your pre-crash MiLE requests were unfortunately lost; however, I will have a librarian contact you via email to make sure that your requests are fulfilled. Also, there in unfortunately not a way for patrons to be able to redirect their own requests after they've been placed. If you'd like to change your pickup point after placing a request, you can call the holds and renewals line at 327-4219 and they can take care of that for you.

Wow, I had no idea that MiLE had been hacked. All the notices made it sound like there was another compatibility issue between the two systems, like there was when your new software started up. Is there someplace on the AADL website that I should have read this? Besides these weblogs, I don't know where to get status information.

Someone asked why I don't have my requests sent automatically to the NE branch, since I'm close to there. The reason is that I almost always go to the Main library branch every Saturday, and usually it's no problem to wait until Saturday to go there, so I set my default for Main. Going to NE branch is a special trip, from work, which I only rarely do even though it is close. Recently, however, I've had a number of requests that came in midweek just before I left for a weekend trip. I usually have a bit more time to read when I'm out of town, so in those situations I appreciate the ability to change the request to NE.

Another idea would be to allow users to make new material requests online. This could save you some staff time by building a database of requests and frequency of request without staff data entry. It might then be possible for users who have requested the material to be notified when it has been purchased and give the option to be automatically added to the hold list in the order they requested it if there were multiple requests for the title. You might even determine which branch receives copies based on the preferred location users state for holds.

Going another step further, you might consider changing locations for a title if there appears to be a continuing demand for that title at a given branch greater than the demand at the normal host branch. The AADL is probably doing this to some extent already, but knowing the preferred locations for requests and pre-requests could be valuable in making those siting locations.

Thanks to Steve for pointing out that "Suggest an Item" was for recommending new material. I had seen that before, but thought that was intended as a general suggestion box. I normally think of suggestions as pertaining to facility suggestions, but item didn't really fit that, since I would usually suggest an action instead of an item. Maybe the library could change "Suggest an Item" to "Make a Suggestion" and a separate "Recommend a Title" to remove some confusion. Even so, this still seems like unnecessary duplication for library staff to read the recommendation for new material as an email.

Following up on Rich's Amazon idea, it would be nice to have a alternative recommendations system. For example, I looked for "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion", which Amazon highly recommends as "Arguably the best book ever on what is increasingly becoming the science of persuasion." We don't have the title, and it took me a good deal of time to come up with alternatives we do have under "s:Influence (Psychology)" or "s:Persuasion (Psychology)". (Try a subject or keyword search on "influence" to see just how tricky this is!) It would have been nice to have the catalog suggest other titles that might be similar.

Thanks for the history feature as well as the others.

Personally, the thing I miss from the pre-computer age is being able to see the checkout history of a book. Remember the stick-on paper where the librarian stamped the return date? Ok, so it's not so long ago, and some books still have that paper attached. Anyway, it was kind of gratifying to see how many times and when a book had been checked out. I felt a little special when I got a book that hadn't been read much. (the road less travelled)

It would be fun to still be able to see that kind of information on each book.

Nice idea "jaynes". I think a good implementation would be to have a little checkbox next to each item in our Check-Out History, for "Make Public". If checked, then your name and checkout date would be listed in that item's own "Check-out History". You could change your defaults so that either all new checkouts are marked or not marked. And if you don't mark the box, only the checkout date and not your name would be listed in the item's "History".

In addition, while I'm at it, the idea of "Make Public" leads to the idea of allowing others to see our own Check-out Histories, to see what we've been reading. If I keep running with the idea, then we can even comment on what each other have been reading, make suggestions, etc... Online bookclubs based around the AADL.

I was thinking of something pretty simple on the item checkout history. Just a list of the dates the item was checked out. This would need to be the first checkout by a patron, and not include the renewals. I don't care to know who checked it out, and that information shouldn't be public.

Thanks for the removal of the renew item box when the item isn't renewable. Now i can plan the order of things I'm reading, and know that I won't run into the problem of needing a few more days on an item that is on a wait list.

I love the idea of having people contribute their reading lists (names attached certainly not a necessity). I go to Amazon nearly every time I want to check out new items just to look up a book I have already read and loved to follow the "people who read this also liked.." thread. That is how I find nearly all of the books I read, other than suggestions on this site. (which are very much appreciated!) If the library had a voluntary list in the same vein, I wouldn't need Amazon for anything :) Having comments/reviews attached to the reading lists would be wonderful too, as I read these (again on Amazon) all the time .

Full disclosure: I'm Eli's wife, but he didn't tell me to write any of this... however, I do hope my two cents go quite a ways... :)

Wholeheartedly agree with deets about the checkboxes coming off when an item isn't renewable. That's a useful way to know something has a hold on it without having to hit renew items to see if it would renew or not.

Would it be possible to set up a deferred request list or to put things on your list and then slide your request back, so that you don't have things checked out that you won't have time to read/view?

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions, it's fantastic to get such high-quality feedback about our services.

<a href="">jaynes</a&gt;, when I check out older items that still have those stickers listing the checkout history, I love to see that data too. Of course, that's not the best way to store that sort of data, and it would be cool to be able to see anonymous use history on an item, maybe even a chart of use over its life. The system does not currently keep that type of data, but it's something we'll think about as we go.

<a href="">braintrease</a&gt;, that is a FANTASTIC idea. As users are building their histories, it would be great for them to decide what part of their reading habits they'd like to share. We could then do all kinds of great things with that anonymized data, like 'patrons who checked out this also checked out this' and other amazon-style services. Superpatron <a href="">Ed Vielmetti</a> actually uses the [w:RSS] feeds of his myaccount page to publish his checkouts and requests live on his blog. <a href="">Here's how he did it.</a>

Comments/reviews/ratings on items in the catalog is something we're working on, and it could really be enriched by patrons who choose to share parts of their histories, anonymized or not, at their preference.

<a href="">Deets</a&gt;, you're welcome. I'll be home soon. =)

<a href="">bfields</a&gt;, implementability isn't too much of an issue, and we would not roll out a service that didn't give you that kind of a choice, and as I've been saying, maybe the best solution is to allow you to choose which checkouts to share, and whether or not you want that to be anonymous on a per-item basis. Personalized recommendations would be just one great service that this data could produce.

<a href="">kjmclark</a&gt;, our <a href="">Interlibrary Loan page</a>, (available from the <a href="">catalog</a&gt; menu) is the best place to check the status of MiLE. Offering you the ability to change your own pickup point after your request is placed is not possible with the current software, but we'll watch for that feature in future releases. The [:contactus|Contact Us] form is the best place to recommend a title for purchase; when you use that form, your suggestion goes directly into the selection process. Also, 'Recommend a Title' is a good description; we're working on some improvements to the Contact Us process, and we'll keep that in mind.

The 'wish list' is something that's come up again and again, and offering that feature would be a big benefit to our users. One possible approach to this idea is that if our request system could better manage how many things you have at a time (a la Netflix), you could place requests into your wishlist and be able to control how many requests the system will fulfill. For example, it would be great to be able to tell the system that you don't want more than three books and two dvds at a time, and then be able to request whatever you want, build up a big list, and count on the system to keep you in content. There is a mechanism by which we can put a 'not before' date on your request, but only staff have an interface to that option. We may be able to use it in conjunction with some other data to give a rolling request list that might make everyone's use of the collection more predictable and less prone to burying you in content all at once. Let us mull that over a bit, give us ideas on how to refine it, and stay tuned.

Thanks again for all your comments, everyone. Keep 'em coming, and let me know if you have any questions.


Eli - I'll put in another vote for the wish list and/or rolling request system; that would well-serve my habit of browsing the new books shelf and finding six things I want to read somebody, but only two I have time for, and wind up forgetting the rest...


Eli, a system like Netflix has would be GREAT! Often times I use the request list this way and then all of sudden 6 boks come in at once (and usually ones that everyone else wants so you can't renew) and you have to try to read them all in 3 weeks! It would be great to be able to set up the list and be able to keep at just one popular book out for longer, and then on its return, get the next popular book.

"I don't care to know who checked it out, and that information shouldn't be public."

I think it'd be interesting, and braintease would proposing that it be voluntary on a per-book basis, in which case there's not really a privacy problem. But maybe it's hard to implement....

To take things further, incorporating something like the recommendation systems that are built into (when you're logged in) and Netflix would be terrific if it can be pulled off. Personalized recommendations based on the items in our checkout history would be very nice to help sort through the mountains of books, dvds, cds, and more available at the library. I wonder if any public library is currently offering something like this. If not, we could be the first, yet again!

As a parent I am supposed to have the opton to see my childrens accounts. It would be nice to be able to add them into the web access so I can access them while accessing my own account.

amelcher, that feature is on our list. The plan is that separate accounts would still need to be created for each library card, but that you could add views to other accounts to your 'my account' page. Watch for that in a future release.

amelcher and others,

Do you really think that parents should see what their children have checked out? I imagine it would be useful when the kids are little, but once they are responsible enough to return books themselves (for me that was when I was about 30 or so), it seems like an invasion of their privacy.

ssands, I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that I'm responsible for their 'debts' until they're 18 - and certainly for their library fines at this point, so I want to be able to renew their library books! :^)

But more seriously, for a parent to have access to their child's account in general, both parent *and child* have to sign the application. [A very protective check-out clerk wouldn't even let me peer at the computer screen to see what we had out until he assured himself that I was allowed access!] My son is 8 and doesn't have an email account, so I get his electronic notifications. As a result, I need access to his account. Maybe when he gets older and more responsible, I'll turn it all over to him and let him change the password. But for now, I get to see it. But it should be up to a family to decide what that point is with respect to 'invasion of privacy', for a minor child residing at home.

Hi camelsamba, Yeah, I'm not a lawyer, either and I agree that it makes sense for you to do it the way you are doing it. Of course, one could always dock the allowance for library fines... I guess the picture in my mind was of teenagers trying to learn about things that their parents don't like or that they *think* their parents wouldn't like. For instance, a kid who wants to learn more about world religions, different career paths than those approved of by the parents, or who was given an assignment in school about cancer or some other subject that is taboo in the family.

I have a new suggestion to add - It would be great if we could choose how many records to display per page on the search results. Having to click to the next page takes time and mouse usage, so I'd love to set my default to show more per page, since I have a high-speed connection.

The sorting of the checkout history is slightly strange. It's probably meant to be a reverse sort by date, but it appears to actually use a lexicographic ordering on the checkout date in MM-DD-YYYY order; so it sorts by month first, then day, then year, making my checkout history look like


Not quite what you'd expect.

I just noticed the new "personal card catalog" feature. Looks like a fun way to keep a list of books to request in the future. Can we count on it to stick around if we add items to it, or should I be keeping a backup list also?

Thanks for the fun new feature!

I'm thrilled to see that the "suggest a title" feature is there- the last time I tried to find it, I thought it had been abandoned when the new site was put up. I love that you make community input so easy, and it's always gratifying to find that the library has acquired something I suggested.


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