Do you use the out-of-the box patron registration form or something else?

PowerPAC has a self-registration form and patrons can be added via the Polaris API.

  1. What process do you use to register new patrons?
  2. Do you use the same thing inside and for “at home” registrations?
  3. How successful is the self-registration process?
1 Like

The big limitation of the self-registration form is identity and address verification. At my library, in-building and outreach registrations are all done by a staff person via the patron registration form in Leap. On top of address and identify verification, we wanted to keep that first human contact so that we can help people accomplish whatever it is they are signing up for a library card FOR.

We do have people who use the online form to pre-register, but we run into a lot of issues with it. There isn’t much flexibility in what you can hide, so patrons end up wasting their time filling out fields we never use. Plus we get a lot of people who aren’t eligible (minors who needs a parent to sign for them, people who already have an account with us, etc.) and it feels like the form sets them up for disappointment–they think they have registered only to find out there are additional roadblocks to getting a card with us.

I feel like there are better options we are missing and I look forward to hearing what other libraries say on this one.

1 Like

When I worked at MCLD in Arizona, they tried out a homegrown system that leveraged the County Auditor’s website which, wonder of wonders, had an API. So our developer was able to tie into that and some kind of white pages API to do things like address verification. It sounds good, but the devil is always in the details and there are plenty of devils in Maricopa County. I used to be the Circ Supervisor at Queen Creek Branch, where you could go to the roof of the library and stare into the other county right down the street. So every day we had to tell people “Sorry, you can’t get a free card here because you live in Pinal County.”

Oh but then there were the parts of Pinal County that the Town of Queen Creek annexed, making thing eligible for a free card because they’re suddenly part of a town in Maricopa County. But those wouldn’t show up on the Maricopa County Auditor’s site. The same basic problem also existed in Surprise, where we’d get some folks from Yavapai County. And then there’s the Town of Wickenburg that straddles the county lines… it’s a mess.

I just checked and it doesn’t look like they’re using this system anymore, though that could be for a variety of other reasons. All I’m saying here is that, even with a line in to an auditor’s and address database… reality always creeps in and bites you with exceptions.

I’m told Quipu is good and one of our libraries (RCLS in California) just got up and running with it. I’m assuming it’s working out pretty well as we haven’t gotten a lot of tickets about it. (No one’s complaining? Must be working! :smile:)

Other than that, all of our libraries are either making do with the stock online registration system or they just don’t allow online registrations at all.

The one thing I’m seeing a bit more of are libraries using video calls (Zoom, etc.) to sign patrons up. I know that’s not automated, but it is a remote service, and it’s kind of interesting.

  1. Quipu eCard Services
  2. No, in-house registration is entered by staff for full privilege cards and “at home” eCards are for online material only due to address verification limitations. Note: Quipu does offer improved address verification services, we have not yet upgraded our services. We launched with Quipu eCard around 8 years ago.
  3. Success can be measured in many ways! Overall, we are happy with Quipu and our current eCard process, but we do have desires to make it better and Quipi offers solutions, we just have to get there with our internal processes.

@TrevorD, if you have additional questions or want a deeper dive, send me a direct message. :slight_smile:

Some of our member libraries have opted to use the PowerPAC Online Registration form which another responder commented that there are fileds that we cannot suppress so we get unwanted information. Even with the Language String updates I’ve made to provide clear instructions like for the email and alt-email to only enter the email once unles you have 2 distinct email address patrons don’t actually read and enter the same one in both places. Same thing with the Legal Name which they enter the same information in both places. We also set the expiration date for Online registrations to 90 days and state they need to pickup their card at the library. When they do follow those directions, staff often forget to update the expiration date and the patron then contacts us about why their card expired already. Another issue that i’ve added as an IdeaLab enhancement even though it should be considered a bug is the online registration that the patron is filling out should be for the library they have selected as the library they are registering for a card from but nooooo, the form is from whatever linrary instance they happened to have landed on. To explain why this is important is we have the Central library that suppresses the Gender field but if the patron lands on the System PowerPAC page and registers for a new card, even though they selected the Central Library, the form they see has Gender as a field. If they happened to land on the Central Libraries PowerPAC then the form has that suppressed. The idea of an Online Patron Registration form is a good one but as with so many pieces of the software, it has been neglected and hasn’t kept up with the needs of the libraries or the public.

1 Like

We moved away from the out-of-the-box form when COVID started. At first we used an API-based form in conjunction with some scripts and the Address Complete service from Canada Post to ensure that addresses were within our service area and were actual addresses. We still use this form to provide temporary cards (no access to digital services, limited checkouts).

We started using Patron Point with their verification service almost a year ago to provide access to full library cards (immediate access to digital services, full access to the physical collection). The service uses a shape file to enforce our service-area restrictions and also confirms identity for us. We’re quite happy with it.

We also print physical cards on demand - both for Patron Point e-cards and also for cards that are damaged / left at home / lost. This to ensure customers don’t change their barcode unless absolutely necessary (because that breaks a lot of digital services).

For in-person card creation, we don’t use either online form. We have an in-person process that requires ID. I’m happy to answer further questions.

1 Like