Automatic notification of orphaned holds


Patrons should be notified if a hold becomes orphaned, i.e. there are no longer any items on the record which could someday fill the hold. A hold can be orphaned when items on the record are marked as lost, missing, reference, or any other non-holdable status, as well as when items are deleted.

Frequent library users may not want to receive notifications for holds that are ready, but may still want to be notified of orphaned holds, so it should be possible to subscribe to this type of notification but not the other.

The notification should contain a message from the patron's library suggesting alternative ways in which they might be able to obtain the item.


Under review


Re: Automatic notification of orphaned holds

I like this idea, but it might also cause confusion.  For awhile, MVLC had every patron set to be notified if their hold was cancelled - which seemed like a good idea, except staff would often cancel a hold (for a lost or missing item) and re-place it on another record, or their spouse would come in to pick up that item for them, and patrons got notified every time that happened.  Almost immediately we started getting calls as to why they were getting notified that their hold was cancelled.

So my two cents is that I'd be reluctant to send out automatic notifications to patrons.  I'd rather have staff notified when a hold becomes unfillable, so they can take the appropriate action - buy a new copy of the item, re-place the hold on another record, request it via ILL, or contact the patron if necessary, etc.

Brian in Chelmsford

Re: Automatic notification of orphaned holds

I would agree with you, Brian, except that in most cases where this happens staff is involved, but they aren't taking appropriate action. And how would you decide which staff should be notified? The staff member who placed the hold? This could be particularly tricky at libaries, like my own, where we use generic logins.

Re: Automatic notification of orphaned holds

That's true, staff would likely be involved in causing the hold to become orphaned.  Perhaps this suggestion would be a better solution than emailing at all:

Knowing they are creating an orphaned hold from the start might let staff eliminate the problem in the first place.

But if it did come to emailing staff, I was thinking the messages would go to the same address that the undeliverable patron email notifications go to (which I think is stored in the Library Settings Editor).  That inbox is checked daily by circ desk staff, who could then either handle it or refer the orphaned hold to a supervisor.