South Central logo SCLS Home
Library Online Home

Telus Library Online
Notes from the 10/26/04 Telus Users Group


Time Management Software Changes/Updates

Discussion of blocking for fines and how to make this more effective/flexible.

Right now, some libraries block for fines and some do not. The blocking is currently based on their PSTAT (if they are LINK libraries). The problem with this method is that if a patron has a PSTAT for one location and uses a different library, they are not restricted from using the library's machines. This causes confusion and inconsistency.

We've been looking for a better alternative, and some possibilities are:

1. Using the "home agency" instead of the PSTAT: This would block patrons for the library they have declared as their "home agency". This could be problematic, however, if library's change the home agency to prevent them from using Telus.

2. Telus could add another field to our database, specifically for fine categories. Libraries would then be able to select a fine category to block on for each individual workstation type. This option, however, is pricey (probably around $3000 for programming).

3. We could combine the field we currently use for patron type and the fine category field into 1 field. This would allow libraries to block for fine categories for specific workstation types.

This solution, however, is not ideal. Here's an example of why: Currently, Portage Public Library restricts workstation access by age. 2 patron types in Telus determine this. We'll call them "porjuv" and "poradt". Now, let's say we add 2 categories for fine blocking: "fines10" and "fines5". In order for this system to work, we will have 3 new patron types for each of the current Portage patron types: "porjuv" (no fines), "porjuvfines10" and "porjuvfines5". There will be 3 patron types for each of the current patron types in use.

After discussion, the group decided that:

1. We should start with blocking by home agency as soon as possible.

2. Stef should work toward combining the fine categories and patron types so that fine blocking can be controlled by workstation type.


Discussion of patron pins and possible alternatives

There has been some trouble with using the phone number as the PIN number in Telus. Some individuals have been able to sit down and type in numbers until they come across a valid LINK barcode. After finding the barcode, they then use LINKcat to find the phone number associated with the barcode. They can then log into Telus with a barcode that is not their own.

While these incidents have not been happening in all libraries, they impact all Telus LINK libraries because the discovered barcode could be for a patron from any library, not just the library where the incident occurred.

We discussed some ways to possibly make this more secure. Using the 1st 2 parts of the birthdate (month and day) as the PIN in Telus was discussed. There was some concern that individuals could then just keep typing in combinations until they hit on the correct one. However, this would be over 300 combinations they would have to try in addition to getting the barcode number in the first place. Wisconsin Rapids, however, felt that this would not be a good solution because so few patron records include the date of birth. It was suggested that perhaps LINK could remove the phone number from the patron display so that even if patrons got into the record, they would not be able to see the phone number information. Stef will find out what LINK committee this would need to be presented to.


Our annual maintenance bill has arrived. Stef will divide it up and sent to the libraries. Stef asked the group if it would be okay not to bill the libraries who just joined this year for maintenance. They pay more than their licenses cost when they join to make the amount equal to what the original group paid. So, their maintenance can be covered out of this extra money. The group approved.

Questions, Complaints, etc.

Q: It appears that expired cards from LINK are still getting into Telus. Is that correct?

A. Right now, this is correct. However, the LINK folks have worked out a way to not include expired cards in the data loaded into Telus. They are testing this. If a card is expired before a particular date, it will not be included. When this first starts working, a lot of cards may expire at once, causing some trouble, particularly with Madison Internet Only cards. Stef will check to see if this can be phased in by gradually moving the expiration date closer to today.

Q: Madison is seeing the clock disappearing on probably about 1 time per week. Is this happening to anyone else?

A: No. It may be related to the problems we've been having with the Telus server hardware. If it continues, please let Stef know!

Q: In Monona, there is one patron that seems to be able to get around Telus, but they don't know how she's doing it, and when she was confronted, she acted like she didn't know how she did it! Anyone else having this problem?

A: Verona had this problem with one individual on the computer attached to the scanner. They were able to get into the scanner software without logging in. This problem has since been fixed. No one else reported having people get around the system (other than by having multiple library cards!!). Dan will talk to Monona about some possible fixes.

Q: What do you do with those people that come in with a stack of library cards?

A: There were a lot of different solutions to this problem. Many libraries would ban all of the cards used (typically for a week), but this will sometimes prompt complaint from the sibling (or parent or friend) whose card was used without their permission. Some libraries give the "victim" a temporary card to use, but tell them that they should not be allowing others to use their card number. In some cases, a new card is issued to the sibling. This issue is one argument for forcing people to have PINs on their accounts. That way, even if someone gets ahold of their card number, they would not know their PIN number (since it is in their head).

It is a pain to deal with this because it takes time in each incident to intervene.

Q: Is anyone blocking instant messaging?

A: No one at the meeting was blocking instant messaging.

Print management

Stef is still testing the new version with print management. Because of our network configuration, there has had to be some special development for us. The latest version looks pretty good, and she hopes to have the testing done by the end of the year.


For more information about Library Online, contact Brian Hahn.