Circulation preparation for Me Card
The Me Card does not impose any restrictions or new rules on your current circulation policies. Each library is free to manage its membership as they see fit. However existing members have encountered sometimes surprising side-effects of being a Me Libraries member that you should be aware of. The questions below need to be answered by your library system before rolling out the Me Card.
Do you have a roll-out plan for Me Card?
The Me Card is not meant to be complicated, but it is unique in Canadian libraries. Staff will need to be educated on what a Me Card is, and how to deal with common issues. Some awareness training will create a smooth and consistent customer experience. The Me Card Procedure and Training Templates contain several examples of materials other libraries have developed for staff training. Feel free to use them as a template for your organization’s staff training.
What are your terms and conditions for new Me Card customers?
Me Card customers are given an opportunity to review your library’s terms and conditions on the melibraries.ca web site. You will need to have a finalized version of your institution’s terms and conditions ready shortly after installation. These should be listed on a webpage that the Me Library site can point to. Examples can be found on the melibraries.ca website.
How will your organization handle existing reciprocal borrows?
Me Card is a reciprocal borrowing system. You may want to retire your current reciprocal borrower accounts as they expire and suggest that customers with existing reciprocal cards renew with a Me Card. The Me Card Procedure and Training Templates contains an example of how EPL handles reciprocal borrows using the Symphony ILS.
Common misconception about Me Card reciprocal borrowers
There is no link between a user’s account in one library’s ILS system and any other libraries that user has joined. Customer history and account status at each library is private to that library except on account update. At that time the customers home library will re-share account information and status.
Student cards, and other reciprocal agreements
Do you have any customers that use a post-secondary or other institution’s card as a library card in your system (eg. the U of A’s L-Pass agreement with EPL)? Since all customers register with their user id, and melibraries.ca recognizes the customer’s home library from their user id prefix (eg EPL’s prefix is 21221), your institution must consider if those ids will be allowed to participate. If you wish to allow them consider these next two items:
- Melibraries.ca needs to identify all the id prefixes belonging to your institution.
- Another library may already identify themselves as the home library institution of these customers.
How will you manage Me Card account creation manually?
If the Me Libraries system is unavailable during maintenance or because your node looses connection, it may become necessary to register customers manually until service can be restored. Me Card Procedure and Training Templates contains a sample of procedures that EPL uses in such a contingency. The procedures are highly institutionally dependent but feel free to modify the information there to suit your procedures.
How do you register juvenile Me Card members?
Me Card is not restricted by age, only the use of the web site is. This is done to ensure that guardians of under age customers are aware that they are responsible for costs incurred by the card they have guaranteed. Me Card Procedure and Training Templates contains procedures that EPL uses to register juvenile customers as a suggested framework that could be applied to your organization.
Do you share an ILS instance with another library? If so how will you assign the new customer to a library?
What rules will be applied to Me customers who join your library. What user type (ie. Btype or user profile) will be assigned to these users? How many items, and what type of items, will they be able to borrow? Each library that joins Me libraries may set its own local policies regarding what level of collection access guest Me users have.
Do your customer accounts have enough information?
Customers are required to have a minimum set of account information to be able to become a Me Card member.
- ID - The customer’s library card number
- PIN - Does your ILS have PIN length and type restrictions?
- First Name
- Last Name
- City - Horizon users should refer to CITY_ST table requirements section.
- Postal code - Does the account contain all mandatory fields, and is the data in those fields well formed? Think ‘0’ (zero) instead of ‘O’ (capital letter ‘O’) in a postal code, the server will refuse this customer, even though the postal code ‘looks’ fine to staff.
- Email - Used to relieve the cost burden of mailing notices to Me Card holders.
- Privilege expiry date - the remaining privilege the customer has at their home library, automatically limited to a maximum of 1 year.
Does your account data require cleaning?
Your customer information is going to be shared and loaded into other ILSs across the province. Errors in customer information will also be shared. If you have routinely had problems collecting clean customer data, the metro server can be configured to check and clean some forms of errors, but with added costs and delays to installation.
Do you want additional processing performed on Me Card accounts?
Some additional data can be computed from the customers information and recorded at the time of importation. Fort Saskatchewan Public Library and Strathcona County Library have their metro server compute analytic information which is imported as a bstat along with the rest of the customer’s information.
Optional customer information
The following customer information is considered optional:
- Phone - Optional but highly desired.
- Date of birth - If the customer does not have a DOB and your organization doesn’t have a profile or btype that corresponds to a minimum age category, is there another way to identify, compute or infer that the customer is of minimum age?
- Sex - Commonly used for analytics, but frequently missing.
When an account arrives at your metro server, the server checks that the account meets your organization’s ‘local policies’ before it attempts to load it. An example of a local policy is if your organization’s mandate states that you serve only Alberta residents, you could refuse Me Cards of customers based on what province they registered with at their home library. More typically local policies are used to customize the customer’s data into a format that is optimal for your ILS.
Does your ILS use codabar validation?
Some systems have codabar bar code checking enabled. When active, a check sum of the barcode is computed and compared against the least significant digit on the customer's id. This validation will need to be turned off because there will be customers trying to register using student ID card numbers (from U of A, Concordia etc.) and their IDs are only 13 digits long.
Do you want to update notices you currently send out?
Once a customer joins your library, they will receive notices from your library as part of a regular notice report protocol. Do you need to modify notices for existing customers? Do you need to create new notifications for Me customers? For your non-Me customers you may wish to update renewal notices to include information about updating their other Me accounts at sister libraries.
Testing - Do you have test accounts of the following types?
During the setup of the metro server testing will be required. You will need to have test accounts for bogus patrons, each with the same PIN or password to speed things along. The accounts should be typical examples of:
- Suspended patron
- Juvenile patron
- Non-resident patron
- Reciprocal patron including TAL, local library only if applicable
- Expired patron
- Not in good standing patron
- Legitimate patron in good-standing
It would be helpful if the names are familiar human named accounts. A good example is 'Jane Doe'. Bad examples are 'TEST1' or 'Michael Steven'.