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Comments on: Library ELF > Email and RSS Notifications for Your Libarary Material



Comments on MetaFilter post Library ELF > Email and RSS Notifications for Your Libarary Material



Published: Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:23:41 -0800

Last Build Date: Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:23:41 -0800

 



Library ELF > Email and RSS Notifications for Your Libarary Material

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 18:47:34 -0800

Library Elf is a nifty free service that tracks all of your library books. It sends you emails and/or delivers RSS notifications when your books become due, shows you a list of all books you currently have out, and lets you know when that book you wanted is available. It supports multiple cards per account, so you can track all books for the whole household. Also, do everyone in your community a favor-- see if your library is listed and, if it isn't, request that they add it.



By: nickyskye

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:23:41 -0800

Way cool! Very handy, thanks juggernautco.



By: event

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:29:43 -0800

Very cool, indeed. I just signed up.



By: MrLint

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:29:49 -0800

Please excuse my paranoia and cynicism, and i honestly ask your apology, but doesn't this kinda thing just feed into the DOJ and DHS fishing expeditions of people reading 'terrorist' books?



By: TechnoLustLuddite

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:31:54 -0800

...is a nifty free service that tracks all of your library books. ...and let's homeland security know when you check out that bin laden book?



By: keswick

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:36:42 -0800

Maybe you guys oughta put down the doobie; you're getting a little paranoid.



By: event

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:38:21 -0800

If Homeland Security is going to watch what you read, they don't need Library Elf.



By: juggernautco

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:38:36 -0800

One can only hope that DOJ and DHS are smart enough to use flexible, simple technologies to help keep our nation safe. If someone over there sees this, they'd probably award some crony tech defense firm a four-year contract to develop a similar system that will never work.



By: Quietgal

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:42:06 -0800

According to the privacy policy on their website, they don't give out information to any outside party, except by court order or if required by government investigation. So they don't fire off an alert to the Feds if you check out "suspicious" books - the Feds would have to go to them first. And yeah, I signed up.



By: Badgermann

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:44:37 -0800

The Sacramento Library intentionally only tracks the books you have currently checked out. They intentionally refuse to keep patron's history to thwart any DOJ/DHS intrusion. It is not something they advertise, and I only found out by asking to see if I had previously checked out a particular book before.



By: nostrada

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 20:16:45 -0800

Thanks!



By: teece

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 20:18:02 -0800

This is really cool. It might have saved me many dollars in fines, if it was available for my college library. I would always forget to take books back until a week or two after the semester ended. DPL supports it, yippee!



By: nickyskye

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 20:19:39 -0800

In signing up for Elf I poked around the New York Public Library site and discovered they have a "Tell your story" window to share a brief anecdote. A random NYPL piece of info: at Donnell, my favorite public library branch in NYC they have the original stuffed animals of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and Tigger.



By: nostrada

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 20:20:16 -0800

Hey wait, someone has to complain about the post not being worthy for the frontpage . . .



By: Sharktattoo

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 20:23:24 -0800

Or, you know, you could just look at the date due slip. Or would that be too easy?



By: muckster

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 20:37:39 -0800

Too bad this isn't available for the Queens Public Library yet. But I do have a bookmarklet that lets me look up a book I found on Amazon at the library with a single click, and then request it via interlibrary loan. I'm not sure where I got the bookmarklet though--perhaps somebody else can fill that in. In the meantime, Amazon Lite has a function that lets you do the same thing. Select your library in the settings, and then get them to place books you find on hold for you. Very nice.



By: muckster

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 20:39:29 -0800

Found it: the Library Lookup Project. One of my favorite web gizmos ever.



By: nickyskye

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 20:44:01 -0800

If one takes out a number of items (in NYC one can take out 32 items at a time, including CDs and videos) on different days, or requests items, it can be a headache to keep track about what to return when and Elf has an organized calendar for each item's return. In addition for videos and CDs there is no fixed date slip attached but a receipt that usually falls out when one opens the case.



By: juggernautco

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 21:23:33 -0800

Here's a relevant mefi post I found by following muckster's comment link. The most important germ of it is the Open WorldCat Program website, which has extensions for Yahoo! and Google toolbars as well as the Firefox browser for "locating library-owned materials on the Web". Good stuff.



By: ?!

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 21:36:56 -0800

Just a couple of points. The sites currently only works for those libraries that use the Dynix system. Your library may not. Badgermann: I don't know about the Sacramento Library, but I can attest that some libraries have that policy, but the software has not been altered to eliminate all such patron information. It those cases it is possible to track the last 3 or so patrons who checked out a book. That is done so that if a patron returns a book and says "All the curse words have been crossed out." the staff can see who was the previous patron who checked out the book.



By: luriete

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 22:31:05 -0800

Badgermann, thanks for the update. I use the Sacramento library constantly - a wonderful collection and their web services are already quite rich, and will be even better when I can use them with this system.



By: Infinite Jest

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 00:40:36 -0800

Sharktattoo: Or, you know, you could just look at the date due slip. Or would that be too easy? My library doesn't have date due slips inside the book, we get them printed out separately. And I always lose them. Besides which, if I get notices via RSS I don't have to be always remembering to manually check my library books (seeing as I check Bloglines every day). (by a weird coincidence, I signed up with LibraryELF about 10 minutes before I saw this thread).



By: Jon-o

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 01:19:53 -0800

This gets me thinking: What if there was a library that existed entirely online which operated much the same way that Netflix does? Request a list of books and, when you return one, they'll send you a new one in exchange. No due dates, no late fees. Only a monthly charge (probably enough to cover shipping and the cost of a book, should it never be returned). On the other hand, I can't think of any advantages this has over visiting the public library (aside from selection in some cases).



By: ROU_Xenophobe

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 02:04:43 -0800

Or, you know, you could just look at the date due slip They're no help to a serious library user. At one point, I had near to 100 items out, a fair number of which I'd had checked out for more than 3 years, so looking at the due-date stamp would have been an exercise in futility. As it was, I just had to remember to auto-renew all my books every semester.



By: JanetLand

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 07:38:48 -0800

It's a cute idea, but it probably won't replace my time-tested "write it on the fridge" method. ROU_Xenophobe, doesn't the library get a little ticked when you have books out for 3 years?



By: nflorin

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 07:45:34 -0800

What if there was a library that existed entirely online which operated much the same way that Netflix does? Request a list of books and, when you return one, they'll send you a new one in exchange. No due dates, no late fees. Only a monthly charge (probably enough to cover shipping and the cost of a book, should it never be returned). Things vaguely similar to this is creeping in. I've worked in an extremely peripheral way on one example, the Massachusetts Virtual Catalog, which allows you to search a large number of libraries and library cosortia (public and academic) all at once, and then have a book delivered to your home library. It is functionally one "virtual library" operating with "branches" all over the state. It's really useful for someone living in a smaller town, because you get access to items in the UMass system and a lot of the Boston libraries, including the pretty huge Boston Public Library. There are still due dates and overdues and such, but those can't really go away when you're dealing with a lot of out-of-print items. And libraries won't exist as purely virtual spaces for a long time, because they have a lot of other functions beyond places with books.



By: amberglow

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 08:09:34 -0800

that Library lookup thing is wonderful, muckster! thanks. (i don't trust the Elf tho, esp after hearing that libraries have already given info to the feds--our reading should stay private no matter what--putting it all online would defeat that.) related: the NYPL now has downloadable audiobooks too. (but no Mac support i think)



By: Sharktattoo

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 08:47:00 -0800

Well, if I seem a little bitter and/or cynical, I've got good cause. I'm the access services manager for a university library, and over the years the excuses I've heard for why books are late runs into the thousands. Now I just tell them: The due date is in the book.



By: event

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 09:02:44 -0800

amberglow: (i don't trust the Elf tho, esp after hearing that libraries have already given info to the feds--our reading should stay private no matter what--putting it all online would defeat that.) There seems to be some confusion here over what exactly Library Elf does. If you use a library that has electronic record keeping (e.g. Dynix) then it is almost certain that your reading is "all online" already. That is to say, your records are stored are computers that are on the Internet. That is NOT to say that your records are public, however. Library Elf does not make your records public, either. They generate an RSS feed that is specific to you and you only; the only way somebody else can view your RSS feed is if you give them the URL.



By: ROU_Xenophobe

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 10:19:20 -0800

doesn't the library get a little ticked when you have books out for 3 years? They never acted ticked. Anyone who wanted them could always recall them.



By: Razzle Bathbone

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 10:30:48 -0800

As a library patron I love Library Elf. My parents read/listen to a lot of books and I look after their cards, plus my wife's. Between the 4 cards there are about 18 items signed out right now and about 60 active holds. It was a chore to look after all of these items. As a librarian, as usual I have to ask the question why can my Integrated Library System not do this but a third party can? If they had this when I was finishing off my graduate degree I would have saved quite a bit of money in fines. At my university, as a grad student I was liable to have 3 different due dates, 3 weeks, 4 weeks or 4 months. Seeing as no one has date stamped a book in years, those stupid thermal slips get lost pretty damn easily, and are not too helpful when you have so much material out.



By: MonkeySaltedNuts

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 11:19:40 -0800

I figure that my overdue fines help support my library. Though I think it is rather rude that they only send me an email overdue notification 7 days after the book is due.



By: potuncle

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 12:22:33 -0800

Here at the Eugene Public Library (Eugene, Oregon) we would definitely not participate in such a service because of both security and, more importantly, privacy reasons. First of all to enable any outside source to poll any information from our ILS server, we would have to enable the Z39.50 protocol to be able to pass in through our firewall to our server. Many libraries enable this protocol to be able to access their server from the "outside" to enable websites to show which libraries have particular items. Assuming the firewall is set up properly, then allowing access to such information is secure and does not allow the chance for any private information to be accessed. In order to allow the Libarary Elf service to work, not only would a library have to allow the Z39.50 protocol through their firewall, but also enable their ILS software to allow personal data to be accessed via Z39.50 from outside the firewall. By doing so, all information about what items a patron currently has out and, if the library keeps such data, what items a patron has checked out in the past, would be easily accessible for anyone who is seeking such information. It would not be difficult for a hacker or a government agency to "sniff" the Z39.50 protocol data and capture patron names, barcode numbers, and passwords/pin numbers. With this information it would be extremely easy to track personal information pertaining to what a patron has checked out.



By: event

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 13:18:09 -0800

potuncle: to enable any outside source to poll any information from our ILS server, we would have to enable the Z39.50 protocol to be able to pass in through our firewall Uh...or they could just log in as you. Which is, in fact, what they do.



By: turbodog

Sun, 26 Jun 2005 15:37:50 -0800

Uh...or they could just log in as you. Meaning "you" as the library patron, not you, the Z39.50 expert. Or in my case at the Multnomah Country Library, me.



By: QIbHom

Mon, 27 Jun 2005 15:06:56 -0800

Eh, I set up my library co-op's system to send out e-mails before books were due years ago. You've been able to see what books you have out (and even renew them!) online for years and years. This is very old news. It also only works on Dynix systems. Dynix was just bought by Sirsi. Which ought to be interesting, at least. As a public library co-op system administrator, I'd rather cut off my right arm than send my patron data to another system not controlled by library people. I've got enough problems with patrons who insist that, since we are a governmental entity, we are passing everything on to the FBI. Then there are the security issues. And the privacy issues - privacy policies can change.