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May 2014

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

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.

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