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December 2, 2014 | TPL Staff | Comments (0)

For the latest about Toronto Public Library's website, digital content, and other online services, visit the Digital Library Services blog.

Zinio Digital Magazines - Over 100 New Titles Added

September 19, 2014 | Joanne | Comments (8)

Over 100 new titles have recently been added to Zinio, including HELLO! magazine, Cottage Life, The Atlantic, Skateboarder and Bloomberg Markets Magazine.

In addition, some titles are available in Chinese, Spanish, Italian and French.

A complete list of Zinio Magazines by title (PDF) and subject (PDF)

New to Zinio? Learn how to get started.

HELLO! Magazine      The Atlantic Elle Quebec     Next Magazine Vanity Fair Italia   Cosmopolitan Espanol

New features for managing your OverDrive eBook holds

August 5, 2014 | Sandra | Comments (7)

Good news for users of OverDrive eBooks and eAudiobooks: two new options to help you manage your holds have just been released. 


Suspending Holds

As with holds on physical library materials, suspending keeps your place in the waiting list, but allows you to:

  • Make sure you don't get all your holds at the same time
  • Stop holds from coming in when you know you'll be too busy to read them

Here's how it works:

  1. Sign in to your OverDrive account.
  2. In your Holds list, choose the item you want to suspend and click on Options.
  3. Choose the time period for suspending the hold (from 7 to 90 days) and click Submit.


Your hold is now suspended. You can change the suspension dates or unsuspend the hold at any time by clicking the Edit link.


Automatic Checkout

OverDrive has also introduced an option to save you a step in the eBook borrowing process and help ensure you never miss your holds once they become available.

At the time you place a hold, you'll see a checkbox labelled Automatically borrow this title when it becomes available.

Note that the box is checked by default. If you leave it selected, OverDrive will automatically check the book out to your account as soon as it becomes available.

If you change your mind, you can turn this setting on and off for individual holds by going to the Holds section of your account:

See OverDrive's article on how automatic borrowing works for more details.


Ready to Place Some eBook Holds?

You can have up to 30 items on hold in OverDrive. Looking for some books to add to your holds list? Here are a few good places to start:

Renew your checkouts - even if they have holds - as long as another copy is available

May 20, 2014 | TPL Staff | Comments (10)

Have you ever seen this message when you tried to renew one of your checked-out items?

Item failed to be renewed - item has holds

Preventing a renewal makes sense if other library users are waiting to borrow the title and all the copies are checked out. But, as many regular users noticed, there was a flaw in our system's logic: renewals were being blocked for items with holds on them even if other copies of the title were available to borrow. The only way to renew an item with a hold on it was to contact library staff, who would manually check whether or not other copies were available and override the system setting to allow the renewal.

This approach to managing renewals was inconvenient for users and an inefficient use of staff resources. So we're delighted to announce that, following an upgrade this past weekend, the library's account system now has logic that checks for available copies and allows renewals to proceed as long as there is a copy on the shelf that can fill an outstanding hold.

There are still situations where you won't be able to renew a checked-out item:

  • It's a popular item with a waiting list and no available copies
  • It's a popular item with a waiting list and the "available" copies are not copies that can fill holds (e.g. they are reference-only or Best Bets copies)
  • The item is a new feature DVD or part of a Book Club Set
  • You have already renewed the item the maximum number of times

Our goal is to make borrowing and renewing more convenient, while still ensuring equitable access to library materials. Thanks to everyone who has sent in feedback to help us improve the self-service renewal option!

Account redesign update: let us know what you think of the latest design

May 8, 2014 | TPL Staff | Comments (12)

A whiteboard sketch of a proposed design for the account summaryPost Updated May 9, 2014:

Whoa! you guys have eagle eyes. We've looked at this a lot so your fresh perspective is fantastic. Commenters: you're all quite right, highlighting holds in the navigation was a mistake and I've updated a new version to correct that. The previous summary screen you commented on is right here for your reference.

Back in January, we asked for your input on an early mockup of a new design for the account summary screen. You gave us so much great feedback, we went right back to the drawing board – literally! We did a bunch of whiteboard sketching to help us move towards a revised concept.

The main point we took from your comments was that the summary should focus on its core purpose: letting you see the current state of your checkouts, holds, and charges at a glance.

But there's more! We've been doing a lot of technical work since January. Our primary goals for this project are to make a great experience for customers and also to create a platform that moves the library forward so it can deliver more of what you want, like borrowing history and lists.

A lot of new technical bits under the hood are being put together, and all on top of some newly minted servers. We're building out the new account using Ruby on Rails and are implementing a number of tools to make ongoing development a lot easier and more efficient (MavenJenkins, Capistrano, Git). It's quite a number of platform changes and we're happy to elaborate on this If you want to know more, so use the comments below and let us know.

So without further ado…we invite you to take a look at the newest summary design. Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Library Account Summary Page Design 2014-05

Account summary screen: what do you want to see?

January 21, 2014 | TPL Staff | Comments (29)

Since our last round of mobile testing at Bloor/Gladstone branch, we’ve continued moving forward on the redesign of the account section of the website.

We started with designing for mobile devices and have now run through several iterations and three rounds of testing with users. Up next: what should the new account look like on larger screens?

One of our goals is to provide a great experience on any type of device and deliver the full range of functionality in a usable way. Now that we’ve found a way to fit all the account features into a small screen design, we need to decide how to use the extra space that larger screens provide.

The account summary screen is a good example – its main purpose is to let you get a quick overview of the status of your account, but is there other information you’d like to see?

We’ve heard from a number of you who want branch information to be easier to find, so we added today’s hours for your home branch to our design, along with some basic profile information, a link to our eBook service, and a program promotion.

Take a look at the concept and let us know what you think! Is there information we’re missing? What would you like to see on the account summary screen?


Come preview our mobile account design at Bloor/Gladstone - Friday, Dec. 6

December 5, 2013 | Sandra | Comments (1)


We're continuing our testing of the redesigned account section of the TPL website. We've made some more changes based on feedback from participants in our Website Advisory Group.

We'd like to invite anyone interested in this project to drop by and visit us Friday, December 6, between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Bloor/Gladstone branch, where we'll be available to show you the prototype and get your input.

See you there!

Account Usability Testing Round 1

November 12, 2013 | TPL Staff | Comments (5)

Assuming other news may have distracted you from reading our most recent blog post, here's a brief update on what we're doing. The Account Redesign Project team is hard at work developing a new mobile friendly account experience and on November 4th we put our prototype in front of several library users. This was the first of many planned user testing sessions. We observed users in action performing tasks like renewing books, cancelling holds, and changing pickup locations. 

A library user testing the prototype on a phone

As we have been working ‘mobile first’ i.e. starting with design for the smallest screen – the first round of testing focused on mobile devices. Members of the Website Advisory Group were invited to participate in this day of testing.

Testing was conducted on an interactive prototype of the design, a sort of live sketch of the new account. This allowed us to ask people to interact with the prototype and complete typical library account management tasks. By doing task based testing, for example asking someone how they would renew their books, we get invaluable feedback on how easy tasks are to complete and whether users can see the information they need.

Outstanding holds screen grab
Account prototype as of November 12th.

We met some great people and got an excellent sense of what in the design is working and where improvements are needed. Overall, the task completion rate was high, meaning we are on the right track, but there were a few stumbling blocks in the design, like the ability to access branch open hours information easily. 

User testing findings

  • you want to easily be able to see time-sensitive information,
  • you want clear and consistent date formats,
  • you don’t consider outstanding hold expiry dates very important,
  • you want easier access to branch open hours information.

This week we've been reviewing and analyzing your feedback and our testing observations and are fast at work making revisions in preparation for our next round of testing. 

A big, big thank you to all those who came out and participated. Please keep checking back here for regular updates on our progress and to let us know how we're doing. If you would like to join the Website Advisory Group and have a chance to see the new Account first hand, please let us know.

Account redesign underway!

October 22, 2013 | TPL Staff | Comments (0)

The Web Team is excited to announce that we will be redesigning the account section of the TPL website over the next few months. 

Why are we doing this?

There are some important changes to the technology underlying the account that we have to implement, and this will allow us to fix some longstanding issues and make some desirable improvements.

Additionally, the increasing number of people accessing their TPL accounts from mobile devices is a key factor. We realize that our customers want to be able to check their accounts from a wide range of smart phones, tablets, and laptops of all shapes and sizes. The current account is not providing a great experience on smaller screens, and we want to change that.

TPL Website Mobile Device Visits: Sep 2011 - 6%, Sep 2012 - 12%, Sep 2013 - 22%

Are we making some long sought-after feature improvements?

No, sadly, but this first step will set us up to deliver improvements like personal lists and borrowing history in the near future. We are going to be addressing some smaller issues such as displaying your hold pick-up branch and card expiry date, and improving the date formats that are displayed.

We’re also working to improve how quickly we can deliver new features. Building on some major ‘plumbing’ changes that have occurred over the last two years, this project includes process and platform changes that will make the web team more efficient at rolling out improvements.

Follow what we’re doing and get involved

While this project is underway, we will be posting regular updates to this blog and asking for your input. If you want to be informed about opportunities to get involved with design or testing, please join the Website Advisory Group.

We hope you will follow along with us on this journey and look forward to meeting you online and in your local branch!


Update Oct 25: bar chart replaces line chart

Interested in shaping the future of the TPL website?

September 24, 2013 | TPL Staff | Comments (10)

We have a lot of great things we would like to accomplish on the TPL website over the coming months and we’re looking for people to help. We are creating an advisory group of interested Toronto Public Library members who would like to share their opinions and shape the future of the TPL website. Group members may be invited to participate in occasional surveys, online discussions, usability tests or other consultation to provide feedback on the TPL website.

If this sounds like something you would like to join, please complete this brief survey.

Questions? Find out more about the Website Advisory Group or contact us at [email protected].

iPhone/iPad/iPod eBook users: important information about OverDrive and iOS7

September 19, 2013 | TPL Staff | Comments (10)

The new iOS7 operating system for Apple mobile devices (released yesterday) has led to some problems for OverDrive users who read eBooks on iPhones, iPads, or iPods. When you try to open an eBook, the OverDrive app won't work.

The recommended solution is to re-authorize the OverDrive Media Console app with your Adobe Digital Editions ID.

  1. Within the OverDrive app, tap Settings in the Home menu.
  2. Tap Deauthorize.
  3. Sign back in with your Adobe ID.

More information from OverDrive.

Staff from the Toronto Public Library's eServices team talk about recent changes, future plans and ideas and issues you raise about the library's online and mobile services.

What the Web Team is reading on the web