Matthew Reidsma

Work Notes

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OPAC Renewal and Login Updates

I’ve been noticing some reports lately of folks who thought they had renewed items in the catalog expressing frustration at receiving bills for overdue and lost items (including some very rude messages to our long-suffering UX team). From what I can tell, these folks all clicked the “Renew All” or “Renew Selected” items on the catalog account screen, but failed to notice the second confirmation screen that follows:

Silly confirmation screen for renewals
(This is what it looks like after I applied a little styling to the confirmation earlier today. Before that it was red text with two identically styled buttons. Thanks, Innovative!)

I’ve always hated that confirmation step. It’s completely unnecessary to confirm that you want to renew a selected group of items. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen if you accidentally renew something you didn’t mean to? Nothing! We have unlimited renewals on most items here, and its not like renewing a book is the same as deleting some crucial data. Deletion is a case where you really need to make sure you’re doing the right thing (although I can tell you from experience not everyone reads those warnings, either!). Once a user clicks Renew All or Renew Selected in our catalog, the items should be renewed.

So, I wrote a little script that looks for that renewal prompt, and puts up a little message for the user saying that renewals are being processed. Then, it submits the confirmation form without any intervention by the user. Voila! You click one of the renewal buttons and your items are renewed for you. (Or it fails and you get a message that you can’t renew the item.)

Animation of the new renewal process

The code is pretty simple, although it relies on a few things being customized in the patronview_web.html template in Sierra.

I also made some tweaks to the way information is displayed on the list of items you have checked out. It’s mostly adding some space around things and splitting different kinds of information onto separate lines, but I also added code to highlight items that have been successfully renewed:

Screenshot showing highlighted renewal

One other change I made today to the OPAC was to fix yet another silly hard-coded error message encouraging you to “see a librarian” if you can’t log in to your account! I appreciate the folks at Innovative sending folks to librarians for every possible problem they might have. We’re pretty capable folks, but honestly, we’re not always the right choice. So I changed the wording a bit with a single line of code in our already heavily-customized login screen.

New better OPAC login error message
Thanks to Lindy for pointing this one out!

I have a few more tweaks to the catalog coming soon, and tomorrow I’ll post an update on a bunch of changes I made earlier today to the Course Reserve interface for faculty.

**UPDATE 5/18/2017 10:00am*: This update has made it harder to see if some of your renewals fail (like MeL items that have reached the renewal limit), as the code was interfering with another function that makes failed renewal messages more visible. I’m working on an update that should go live shortly.

UPDATE 5/18/17 2:10pm I’ve fixed the issue with failed renewal messages not showing up by replacing the unhelpful default message with one that explains to users why a renewal might fail.

New failed renewal message