Thursday, May 17, 2007

IUG – My Millennium: How long since you’ve taken a look at this powerful and personalized patron information page?

Dinah Sanders, Product Manager and Dan Mattson, Library Training Consultants from III made this presentation.

My Millennium is a suite of tools that allows library users to obtain information without help from library staff. It contains basic patron information (name, address, etc.) as well as materials checked out, fines accruing, RSS feeds, etc. Dinah recommends turning it on and then making iterative changes and improvements since it is user ready “out of the box”.

There are a lot of options that can be varied by patron type. They allow you to do things like customizing functions specifically for library staff.

Some of the useful features include:
- The preferred searches feature allows the user to save frequently done searches to easily repeat them. It is also useful as an alert (via email) of new materials that result from a saved search.
- A function that allows them to update their own personal information. The library can customize the fields that patrons are allowed to update.
I wonder if this would be a useful way to maintain staff information like the telephone list.
- In conjunction with ResearchPro, III’s federated search engine, users can save searches or groups of resources that they frequently search.
This would be similar to the function in Search-All-Databases (Metalib) that allows users to create their own groups of resources.
- Patron ratings, III’s first product that allows users to provide their opinion about library materials. Since it only displays stars, there’s little potential for abuse and therefore it would require very little library staff intervention and moderation. You can turn it on by patron type and thereby target a specific audience (e.g. faculty).
- Users must opt in (and can opt out) of a reading history function that allows them to track materials that they’ve checked out. There is no staff access to reading history, the only way to access it is to log in as the user.
- Oh this is COOL: when logged in, users can limit searches to only the items in their reading history AND, with release 2007, they can export the contents of their reading history to their “shopping cart” (and, presumably, from there to an external application like MS Word or Excel).
- Also coming with release 2007 is a “my list” function that will allow patrons to create and maintain a list of materials, whether or not they’ve checked them out.
- Also coming with release 2007 is a “forgot your password?” function, the use of which is obvious.
- A feature that can be turned on is a special, library staff display of a bib record on the patron side that includes some of the fixed field data like date of last update, creation date, record number, bib level, material type codes, and so on.

One disadvantage for our library is that it collects more information about our users than we typically keep, for instance, their reading history. I wonder if the My Millennium info disappears when students, for example, are purged and reloaded at the end and beginning of each semester? Dinah answered yes, that it disappears when the patron record is purged…which brings up another question, and that is, a student’s reading history might not be sustained from semester to semester which could be a problem especially for doctoral students AND that ratings would not tend to develop over time (the natural emergence of a community opinion, that would normally develop according to systems theory, emergence would be blocked, stunted).

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