Will TinyCat do what we need?


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Will TinyCat do what we need?

jan 14, 3:55 pm

Hi all -- I'm taking over as the librarian for a model train museum with a good research library. I want to get our circulation system computerized, and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed...

Right now we sign out on the honor system with a simple sign-out sheet -- write your member #, book title, etc.

I want to implement a computerized version of this, where there's a check-out screen waiting on a computer. The member puts in their member #, scans a barcode (or enters the book number), and presto, they are done. (If they can do this from their phones, all the better.) Some of my members are, er, technologically simple, so I'm trying to avoid logins or anything more complex. I'd prefer not to leave an admin screen up giving someone the opportunity to futz up the library.

I've played with Koha, which I *think* can do this, but not having any background in library science (or running Apache servers) it feels like a bit much. Also Librarika but I can't tell if they have such a self-checkout module that doesn't require a login. Ideally, we want a system as simple as the piece of paper.

Past-due notifications would be ideal and I think Koha and Librarika can do this but not TinyCat, so that's a concern as well.

Can anyone provide some guidance? Is TinyCat the best solution for us?

Thanks in advance!

jan 14, 3:59 pm

I probably should add that searching the catalog is not the most important thing to us -- members are much more likely to find the book they want on the shelf, then check it out.


Redigeret: jan 16, 10:16 am

Hi Aaron / Aaron_pmrrm,

Thanks for your interest in LibraryThing and TinyCat! I'm happy to answer your questions, here, but others are more than welcome to post their experience with the system as well.

First, I should note that TinyCat can send out checkout reminders and overdue notices, per your settings at https://www.librarycat.org/admin/circsettings (under the "Patron Reminder Emails", which will only show up if you have at least one patron added at https://www.librarycat.org/admin/patrons).

Now, onto your checkout flow for patrons. There's a couple of ways you could tackle this:

1. This method is closer to the workflow you want, but involves using a "Volunteer" Admin user login with limited access to your TinyCat Admin portal.

Basically, you could create a shared "Volunteer" Admin User at https://www.librarycat.org/admin/settings/adminusers, which your patrons could use on your checkout machine/station. You could keep that machine logged into the TinyCat Admin's Check in/out page (https://www.librarycat.org/admin/checkinout), but keep in mind that the system may auto-log out after a certain set of time of inactivity (for security measures). You might want to keep the Volunteer Admin user password somewhere accessible, if they need to log back in.

When a patron comes up to the machine–hopefully already logged into the Admin's Check in/out page–they can just scan the items that they're checking in/out, and then scan their patron card (if they have one) or find their patron account by name/email address, on the page. Then click "Save" to finish their checkouts or returns.

2. The next method involves using the patron self-checkout to check out items 1-by-1, and this method does not let patrons self-return items (returns need to be made in the Admin portal).

To enable self-checkout, you'll need to enable patron accounts on your TinyCat account: I'd recommend choosing Simple Circulation patron accounts from your Patron Account Settings, since all of your patrons will share one common password. You'll be able to log into the system for your patrons on the shared checkout machine, and leave it at that. (You'll want to make the Simple Circulation password accessible to your patrons, as well, in case they need it.)

To check items out using Simple Circulation mode, your patrons would just search (by scanning or manual text search) for each item they want to check out and select the "Check out" button. Then, they'll find and select their patron account in the pop-up that follows (patrons can be listed by name or barcode/ID). Patrons can also place holds on items using the "Place hold" button, if they're accessing your TinyCat from home and want to reserve an item for pickup.

Let me know if you have any questions about either of the methods above. I'm happy to answer any questions you have via email, as well. Just send us a note to tinycatATlibrarythingDOTcom.

- Kristi at LT