Yesterday I mentioned how, at first blush, the Northport Library website looked superior to my local digs, the Farmingdale Library. You'll recall how I was smitten by the ability to manage your own account online. Then the final verdict that the NPPL site was really just a heap of bolus draped in semi-professional CSS glaze. Let's cover new ground and make some corrections.
The Farmingdale Library does allow patron account access. I can view material currently checked out, renew online, request inter-library loan (with email notification), and even opt into a system wherein all my activity is tracked for personal analysis (I opted). They use a system utilized by all libraries in Nassau County called the Automated Library Information System Web Catalog, or Alisweb.
This is what it looks like -- as you can see I'm overdue on a number of items.
Now I'm a severe library buff and so are my kids. There was a time many years ago when I would spend many hours and dollars in Borders-n-Barnes&Nobles. Strand was a mecca and old George Lenz in Huntington had all the literary gems (Faulkner, Proust, Joyce, Nabokov) in the ever-so-hip 8x5.2 sizing for $8-10. As a kid my room was stuffed wall to wall with bookcases, books piled 2-3 levels deep, falling off the shelves, and atop every piece of furniture.
Then everything changed when I had kids. Even before progeny one breathed her own air I began building a mini child library. Until I realized that the majority of my selections were flops: Daddy, I don't like this book. I simply cannot predict what my kids are going to like. The library changed this -- I've donated a significant portion of my collection and simply see no reason why I would ever need to purchase a book again. I'm really referring to recreational reading books here, not reference or professional volumes.
The public library evokes all the sentiment it held when I was in elementary school. Now I recall with embarrassment how I had all those $20 Stephen King hardcovers during junior and high school -- did I ever ever read one of those books more than once?
But I'm supposed to be speaking about alisweb. Cool idea -- horrible implementation. In order to access your account one needs to enter 1) username, 2) 14-digit library card barcode, and 3) 4-digit pin. The site doesn't support encryption which is real annoying but I figure it's not like I'm entering my bank account password. At worst, someone can request a bunch of books on my behalf and cause some annoyance for me. Otherwise, I'm not taking out how-to books on nail pipe-bomb or pvc silencer manufacturing so I go ahead, enter the information, close my eyes and inject my clear-text library genome straight into cyberspace.
Since it's not SSL, the Safari browser can't store the password and Firefox only stores the 4-digit pin -- I can remember the 4-digit pin, it's the 14-digit number that's the problem! Now get this: Every time you navigate away from "personal settings" and back again, you have to re-enter everything again -- including the 14-digit number! What a piece of garbage. I want to contact Innovative Interfaces, Inc. and tell them how uninnovative their interface is.
Here is my open letter to Innovatice Interfaces, Inc.:
Please consider SSL and credential management.