[OPEN-ILS-GENERAL] Checking out holds to an alternate patron

Kathy Lussier klussier at masslnc.org
Thu Nov 7 00:41:09 EST 2013

Hi all,

One big issue for our libraries has been the workflow in checking out 
items when the patron sends a family member or another person to pick up 
a hold on their behalf. We've been exploring different possibilities for 
development to improve this workflow.

There are various ways our libraries handle this situation, but the 
following is a likely workflow:

- A patron goes to the library and picks up their spouse's hold. They 
might pick it up from a self-service holds shelf or, if the holds shelf 
is behind the desk, they will ask staff for the item.

- We have some libraries that use notes to verify who is allowed to pick 
up holds. In other libraries, particularly the smaller ones, staff may 
know by sight who is allowed to pick up a patron's holds. Libraries also 
have different policies on whether the hold should be checked out to the 
person who has picked up the hold or the person who originally placed 
the hold.

- For those libraries that check out the item to the person who is 
picking up the hold, when they perform the checkout, they receive the 
message saying that the item is on hold for somebody else. Staff who 
have permission can then override that message and continue with the 

- The hold for the original patron remains, and there is no easy way to 
cancel that hold from this screen. Instead, staff need to retrieve the 
record for the original patron to cancel the hold. If they don't follow 
this last step, the hold remains on the patron's account and gets filled 

Circ staff who have the right permissions have the ability to perform 
the checkout and cancel the original hold so that the transaction can be 
completed. However, it takes several steps, particularly when it comes 
to the hold cancellation.

MassLNC is considering a development project that would leverage a 
friends infrastructure already built into Evergreen that would allow us 
to easily manage who can pick up whose holds and automate the process a 
bit. If we decide to move forward with this project, I know I'll be 
sharing more information on this list as we work through some of the 
implementation details.

However, we also recognize that, even if we provide a means for patrons 
to identify who can pick up their holds, there will continue to be 
situations where friends/family who have not yet been linked to a 
patron's account will be sent to the library to pick up someone's holds. 
In those situations, we still would like an easier way to handle the 

Here are our thoughts for improving the workflow:

- If an item from the hold shelf is checked out to another patron, staff 
receive a prompt saying that the item is on hold for somebody else. This 
alert should display the name of the person for whom the item is on hold.
- This prompt should provide three options: an option to cancel the 
checkout; to proceed with the checkout and remove the original patron 
from the holds queue; or to proceed with the checkout but leave the 
original patron in the holds queue.
- The system should continue to use the same permissions it does today 
to determine if staff is authorized to proceed with the checkout by 
overriding the alert or authorized to cancel the hold.

We aren't looking to give staff the ability to do anything they can't 
already do. We're basically trying to remove some of the steps required 
to complete the transaction.

Before moving further on this project, I wanted to throw the idea out to 
the community to see if others would view this additional option on the 
prompt as an acceptable workflow improvement.


Kathy Lussier
Project Coordinator
Massachusetts Library Network Cooperative
(508) 343-0128
klussier at masslnc.org
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kmlussier

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