I had to see it for myself as soon as Deborah Caldwell-Stone told me about the library elf.
It's a service that offers me email alerts and even an RSS feed when my reserved library books are ready for me to come on down and reminders when the books I have are due back. It tells me if I have fines, and I think if I'm nice enough, it'll bring my books back for me.
Oh my. I can put in other people's library cards and get their information too - all I need is their card numbers, and if their library requires it, their PINs. Library Elf helpfully tells me that in many libraries, it's just the last four digits of their phone number, and that some libraries don't use PINs at all. How wonderful for parents who want to see what their teenagers are reading. Or vice versa. [clarification update: my tone here is peevish and churlish. My Ann Arbor confidante called today to make sure you know that]
Legitimate users "opt-in," but I bet I could pretty easily get into other folks' records even if they don't live with me. I could just paw through some libraries' user accessible hold shelves, or perhaps peer at someone's self-checkout screen or pick up their receipts.
My local libraries are on their list. I signed up. In less time than it took to blog this, I now have both the email and RSS service. In a nanosecond I saw my whole library record - much more convenient than slogging through my own library's website which scatters my records on various screens
I saw three titles waiting for me, and every title I have out. I'd show you a screenshot, but frankly, I don't want the world to see what I'm reading. Here's their demo screenshot.
I don't work at a library any more ... and believe me, this is handy for those of us regular folks who don't go there every day.
Privacy? Did someone say privacy?
Did my library actually agree to this, or was it a Dynix-wide decision? Any librarians reading this who want to chime in? Am I putting my privacy at risk by using it, or does it matter, since the weaknesses that could compromise my privacy are in the system whether I make use of it or not? If I choose email delivery, isn't that the same compromise I made when I signed up for unencrypted email notices from my library? Is RSS any more or less secure?
While I'm on this topic, is there someone who can tell me an easy way to encrypt email for sender and receiver? I tried ziplip years ago without success.