Library Tip: Catalog Account Preferences

Since the WPL implemented Evergreen for their catalog, I’ve had a few difficulties finding out how to do things.

In the past, I’d been able to keep track of what I’d checked out, and I couldn’t figure out how to do it.

Well, I just figured it out, so you can be the beneficiary of my new-found joy.

After you log in to your account, select the Account Preferences tab (fourth from the left) and then select Search Preferences.

Checking Keep history of checked out items? should begin a record of you checkout history.

Note that the page also lists preferences for the number of search items per page, the preferred search location, and the preferred pickup location.  So, if you frequently request items, you can change the default pickup location to wherever you usually like to pick them up.

Hope that helps you!


Library Tip: Freegal

The Worcester Public Library offers one free audio download a week via Freegal.

Freegal is a product where libraries can buy a subscription that allows patrons to download so many DRM-free MP3s per week for free; the songs are mostly from the Sony back catalog.  In the case of the WPL, it’s one download per week.  (If you’re interested in the pros and cons of Freegal, I recommend this blog post and its comments.)

You can get to Freegal by going to the Digital Downloads link from the left hand side of the main library page, then scrolling down to the e-music section and clicking the Freegal link.  Use your library card number and password to sign in.

I hadn’t started using Freegal regularly until quite recently; I’d downloaded the two songs I really wanted on my iPod (my favorite dance remix of Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” and NKOTBSB’s “Don’t Turn Out the Lights”; I never said I had good taste in music) but found the interface (and the Sony-only catalog) to be more annoying than it was worth.

Then I realized that Cheap Trick’s older albums are on Sony, and that for some reason I never bought Dream Police or All Shook Up, and then I realized the whole Hall and Oates back catalog is on Sony as well.  That’s enough to keep me using it for months.

One of the best finds I’ve had on Freegal has been a recording of Wagner’s Parsifal with Hans Knappertsbusch conducting (I think it’s the 1951 recording, but I could be wrong).  Each act of the opera comes as one download, so you get an hour’s (or more) worth of music in one MP3.  (I’ve been wanting to listen to Parsifal for years, and the library’s copy had been damaged, so this is serendipity for me.)

If you’ve been using Freegal, how do you find it?

On a related note, Tracy and I saw that the Iowa City Public Library has partnered with local musicians to make their albums free for library patrons.

They pay about $100 for the rights to the album for two years.  I am not sure how much the WPL is paying for Freegal (though I’d be interested in seeing both what we pay and how much it’s used, and will start asking about it at a future library board meeting), but I like the idea of the library supporting local musicians (both financially and by introducing them to a wider audience).

The Iowa City Public Library has a sample contract on their site and they’re willing to answer questions about how other libraries can set up a similar service.

So — more to come (I hope) on how we could perhaps do something similar to Iowa City.

Library Tip: Newspaper Archives

A long, long time ago, I wrote a post about how your library card enables you to have free access to many newspaper articles.

The way the Proquest subscription service works has changed somewhat, and I wanted to write an updated post on how to search newspaper articles.

You can access the archives of many, many newspapers (including the T&G, Boston Herald, and Boston Globe — and many outside Massachusetts) if you have a Worcester Public Library card.

To access the Telegram & Gazette archives:

You can use the regular Proquest Newsstand link to access articles from other newspapers.   (You can click on the Publications option to limit your search to one or more newspapers.)

As I said before, the Telegram archives are available on this website from 1989 to the present.  They don’t include photos, but I’ve found this to be one of the most convenient services the library offers.  (And I don’t have to be in the library to take advantage of it.)

Library: Export Your Reading List BEFORE May 25

Member libraries of CW/MARS (including the Worcester Public Library) are migrating to a new catalog software (Evergreen) on Memorial Day weekend.  This will impact library patrons in quite a few ways.

With the migration to Evergreen, your existing library history will no longer be accessible.  If you want to keep a record of what you’ve checked out, you’ll need to export your library history before May 25.

Here’s how:

When you’ve logged into your library account, select the My Reading History button on the right side of the page:

You’ll be brought to your reading history.  Click on the Export List option (third from the left):

When you are brought to the Export List page, click on theSelect Alllink before the list of items:

Then enter your email address and press the Submit button:

This process could take a while — be patient!

(I estimate it took 3 minutes to export my rather large list and receive the email.)

Please share these instructions with anyone you know who uses the library!

Library Tip: Self checkout

I don’t often use the self-checkout machines at the library (because I usually have a few items on hold), but I always make an effort to show fellow patrons how to use the machines.

In these days of budget cuts, we’re going to be seeing a lot less programming from library staff.  While that might not be the most important thing, I do think that using the self-checkout machines wherever possible allows library staff to help people with questions (rather than just scanning books).

Here’s how to use the self-checkout machines:

Step 1.  Have excellent taste in books! 

Just kidding — but you can only take out regular books (no CDs, DVDs, or magazines) with the self-service machine.  From left to right, I’m taking out The Real Wizard of Oz, the new Colin Cotterill novel, and Emma.

Step 2a.  Approach the self-checkout machine.

Step 2b.  You’ve got to get closer than that – they don’t bite!  Touch the screen to start your transaction.

Step 3.  After touching the screen, the machine will prompt you to scan your library card.  Take your finger off the screen and take your library card out of your wallet.

Step 4. Put your card, barcode-up, under the black scanner on the left.

(Caveat: sometimes you have to move your card around a little bit.  I find that halfway between the scanner and the base works best.)

Step 5.  The machine will now be on its second step, and will tell you to pass your books over the reader (that is, the black base) one at a time. 

The machine is a fool.  You can just stack your books right on the reader.

Then again…

…doing that only got two of my three books scanned!

Try placing the Cotterill in a few different spots.  Worry that you’re going to have to re-take all the photos for this blog post to make the process seem smooth.

Step 6.  Confirm that all your books are successfully scanned.  When they are, press the Done button.

Step 7.  Your receipt will print out.

Step 8.  Don’t forget to grab it!

And don’t forget to use the self-checkout machines!

Library Tip for Touch-Screen Children’s Computers

We were at the library this morning, and the touch-screen computer my younger son was using froze.

The librarian pressed Alt+F4 and that brought him back to the main game menu.

(Just in case any of the children in your life use those computers!  I’m sure the PC-using world knew this about 15 years ago, but I live in a Mac world…)

Also, something I saw at the library that you might appreciate…a two-page .pdf that illustrates how people are using the library this year.  (It’s perfect for sending to those who’d be inclined to cut library funding, if you catch my drift.)

Library Tip: Requesting Materials Online

I request items online all the time.  Many of the books/audio materials I want are not always available at the Worcester Public Library, so I request the materials and pick them up at my leisure.  I also tend to request books because it’s much easier to pick up materials at the desk than to drag two children all over the adult section.

Once you’ve identified the book you want in the online catalog,

click on the Request button on the left of the top menu:

You’ll be prompted to log in using your library card number and PIN.  If you don’t have a PIN, leave it blank and you’ll be prompted to create one.  If you’ve forgotten it, you need to go to the library with your library card to have the old PIN deleted and a new one created.

After a successful login, you’ll be brought to a menu to indicate the library where you’d like to pick up your materials:

The menu (at least, my menu) defaults to the main branch of the Worcester Public Library.  If I’m requesting materials from outside of Worcester, I request that the materials be sent to Frances Perkins Branch (so that I can see a friend of mine who works there).  If you request materials that are available at the main library and at other libraries, and request that the materials be sent to FPBL, they will not necessarily send the Main Branch materials — they might come from Westminster instead, which is a bit of a waste of gas — so keep that in mind when you’re requesting materials.

So, select the library you’d like and press Submit.

You’ll be brought to a confirmation page:

To check on the status of your hold(s), you can click on the Return To Your Record link at the top of the page:

You’ll be brought to a list of the materials you currently have checked out; click on the link that shows the number of holds you have (highlighted below):

You’ll be brought to a list of your holds and their statuses; “In Transit” means something is on its way, “Check Shelves” and (Blank) mean that the request hasn’t been filled yet.

When your materials are ready to be picked up, it will show up in the status, and you’ll also get an email:

You usually have about a week to pick up a request at the desk.