I work in the library in a small Iowa town. I used to work in a larger library in a larger town, so some of what I’m doing now is about trying to bring some “big city” practices to my library without introducing “big city” problems. One thing that both small and big can agree on, however, is the importance of access to online databases.
Our library has access to a suite of databases from EBSCOHost courtesy of the State Library of Iowa. The slickest way to make these available is to allow patrons to log in using their library card numbers.
At no more than 4 digits, our library card numbers were too short to do this. So I made them longer by adding a prefix. I also called up the State Library and asked them to rig up a URL that, when pasted on the would allow people to authenticate themselves with their new, 9-digit barcode number.
I took a bit of a wild hair and changed the barcode numbers live, in the patron database, one Wednesday afternoon two weeks ago.
“I’m out there, Jerry, and lovin’ every minute of it!”
To make sure that this crazyhuge change wouldn’t bring activity at the circ desk to a screeching halt, I worked with the tech support for the library catalog to put an input mask on the database. Everyone could still access the accounts with the old, short library card numbers. Patrons wouldn’t notice the change and the staff could have some time to get used to the idea.
Today, I got one step closer to the dream of publicizing the databases by updating the links on the website. It is still clunky and not exactly like I want it to be, but it is getting better.