I think the best gift is one that keeps giving. Recently, Mid-Continent Public Library made a minor change with internal procedures that did away with account expiration. Now, your Library account can keep giving and will not expire!
When I started working for the Library, accounts expired every five years. Back then, the cards had an embossed serial number on them. Those raised numbers would get stamped on a filing card using the Gaylord charging machine. Some people recall these machines for the “cha-chunk” sound it would make as it embossed the serial number on the card. Cards had to be physically replaced due to wear. Having the accounts expire every five years gave Library staff an opportunity to replace the worn cards, to verify addresses, and to update our records.
When MCPL moved to using barcodes with the new computer system in the 1990s, the “cha-chunk” machines went away and the wear on the cards decreased. We could continue to use the same physical card with this system for much longer periods of time because the cards didn’t wear out. But we concluded that if we made cards expire every two years, it would help us keep our records up to date and would prompt us to verify account information.
In addition, we could keep some of our costs down by removing accounts that were no longer being used. Many content providers charge libraries by the number of registered borrowers. If our accounts accurately reflected the number of people using the Library, we could save money. So, we started expiring accounts every two years, but stopped replacing cards unless necessary or requested.
Unfortunately, the two-year expiration really was a nuisance for most Library users. People who frequently used the Library became annoyed by the process. For people using the Library less frequently (as in once or twice a year), it seemed like they were always having to create new accounts. With more digital content becoming available, people started to expect immediate and long-lasting accounts, like you have with Amazon.
Finally, new technology allowed the Library to update contact information through the “National Change of Address Database.” We always appreciate it when you tell us your new address and phone number, but now, we can run a routine update to automatically change your account information if you forget to tell us. This upgrade will allow us to keep our records up to date and simultaneously eliminate the inconvenience of your Library card expiring.
We will still remove accounts that haven’t had any activity for a prolonged period of time, but the good news is that moving forward, if you have a resident or reciprocal Library card, your account will not expire as long as you keep using it.
We hope you are as excited about this change as we are! If you have any questions about your Library card, be sure to contact a staff member at your local MCPL branch.
Steven V. Potter
MCPL Director & CEO