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EXCLUSIVE: Internal Public Library Memo Details Policy Changes

By Patty Wetli | Saturday, January 7, 2012

Budget cuts force more policy changes at Chicago Public Libraries. Credit: Flickr/tina.rina

While Mayor Rahm Emanuel and library employee union leaders wrangle over library hours, a memo to library employees, obtained by Center Square Journal from a reader, shows that the Chicago Public Library system has altered several other policies to compensate for the loss of staff, seemingly aimed at slowing circulation to a manageable level.

Following this week’s announcement that Chicago Public Libraries will now be closed on Mondays, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have shifted into damage control mode, each blaming the other for the unexpected reduction in hours. At issue: Faced with $6.7 million in budget cuts, CPL has been forced to layoff more than 170 employees, rendering the system unable to staff 70-plus libraries, 48 hours per week.

As previously reported, Lincoln Square’s Sulzer Regional Library will continue to operate seven days a week.

The email obtained by CSJ, sent Friday, December 30, from Laura Zupko, Assistant Commissioner for Collections, outlined a number of changes intended to “assist Library staff to meet increased demand for services and to give priority to City of Chicago residents.” A quick summary of the new procedures:

  • Patrons with reciprocal, deposit and PC reservation card types will no longer be able to check out any downloadable media (ebooks, eaudiobooks, music or video) through the CPL website and will no longer be able to access their downloadable media account.
  • Patrons will be limited to three holds pending at any one time, down from five. Holds on downloadable media are also being limited to three, down from six.
  • The definition of a library card in good standing will be revised to include any patron who owes $1.00 or less but has no overdue materials still checked out on their account. Patrons with fines under $1.00 but with overdue materials will find their access to services restricted, including checking out materials, using a computer and placing materials on hold.

The complete text of the memo is reprinted below:
To: Staff Systemwide
Fr: Laura Zupko, Assistant Commissioner for Collections
Re: 2012 Changes to CPL Policies and Procedures

The following changes were approved by the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors on December 20, 2011.  They will become effective by COB on Tuesday, January 3, 2012. The purpose of these changes is to assist Library staff to meet increased demand for services and to give priority to City of Chicago residents.

1) Patrons with reciprocal, deposit and PC reservation card types will no longer be able to check out any downloadable media (ebooks, eaudiobooks, music or video) through the CPL website and will no longer be able to access their downloadable media account.  There will be a message on the OverDrive login page stating “Access to this collection is available to Chicago residents with a valid Chicago Public Library card (in good standing). This content is not available to reciprocal borrowers”.   Current checkouts will be lost if patrons with these card types have not yet downloaded the content.  If the content has already been downloaded it will remain until its expiration.  These patrons will continue to get holds notifications for titles they have on hold but will no longer be able to sign in to the site to access them.

2) Chicago residents with a Chicago Public Library card who enter into a reciprocal card arrangement with another library will be limited to 30 items on their reciprocal card, the same limit as on their CPL card.

3) Patrons will be limited to three holds pending at any one time. This does not include hold requests that are in transit or ready for pickup. All hold transactions will be counted as part of the 30-transaction limit allowed on a library account. Patrons who currently have five holds pending on their account will not lose two holds when the changes go into effect. Their holds will remain until they are fulfilled, but they will be blocked from adding any additional holds until their account is below three holds pending.

Patrons placing holds on downloadable media will also be limited to three holds. Patrons who currently have six holds on their downloadable media account will not lose any holds when the changes go into effect. Their holds will remain until they are fulfilled, but they will be blocked from adding any additional holds until their account is below three holds. Please direct patrons with questions about downloadable media to the “Contact Support” link at the bottom of all pages in the downloadable media catalog, https://www.chipublib.org/cplbooksmovies/overdrive.php

4) The definition of a library card in good standing will be revised to include any patron who owes $1.00 or less but has no overdue materials still checked out on their account.   A library card in good standing allows patrons to have access to all library services that apply to their card type including checking out materials, using a computer, accessing electronic resources and placing holds or renewing materials online.  This means that once they return the materials, and owe $1.00 or less on their account, they will be in good standing and can use their card for all services.  However, if they still have overdue materials checked out (even if it’s only a day late and they’ll only owe .20 when it’s returned) their card will be restricted, i.e. not in good standing, until the material is returned.  Additional benefits of this change will include:

  • Patrons who return overdue materials with $1.00 or less in fines will be allowed to charge materials, including those from the Holdshelf, even if they cannot pay the fine on the day the overdue materials are returned.
  • Patrons who are renewing in person or by phone (not the automated phone system or online through the CPL website) can renew overdue material that does not exceed $1.00 in fines even when they have overdue materials still checked out and are unable to pay the fine at that time.  Once the materials are returned or renewed, patrons will be able to place holds or renew materials online, even if they owe $1.00 or less, because their card will be in good standing.

All of this information will be included, where appropriate, on the CPL website on January 3rd.

Effective January 3rd, please remove all Borrowing and Circulation policy bookmarks, flyers in plexiglass holders, and large foamboard signage from all locations. Graphics is printing updated versions of these documents and they will be distributed in the near future.

We are also creating online courses in cash handling, conversion and magazine check-in for staff who will have new responsibilities. Information about these courses will be disseminated as soon as they are completed and ready for staff registration and viewing.

Thanks to all of you for your commitment to CPL and for the high quality of service you provide to our users.

Laura
Laura Zupko, Assistant Commissioner for Collections
Chicago Public Library

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  • Anonymous

    I had already been dinged on (so, figured out) the downloadable media holds.  Unfortunately, the limit of 3 holds really makes the service less useful.  Many books have a several week waiting list, so only being able to request three at a time can mean months before getting the books you want.  

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