Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Revisiting the Elf

As posted earlier, I love Library Elf, and it's emails to me reminding me what I've checked out, what's on my hold list, and other information about my library card.

Mary Minow recently posted at the LibraryLaw blog concerns about Library Elf and privacy and security.

Personally, I don't think Library Elf presents any greater privacy or security risk than existing library catalogs and security systems: if someone can create a Library Elf account using another person's library card number and PIN, they can also access that information via a library's catalog without the Elf. Library Elf may raise the issue, but its not about the Elf.

I decided to do an experiment. I added my mother's library card to my existing account (getting her permission first.) No problem, and I can see why a parent with children would like having all this information coming in one email -- no more wondering what their 6 year old checked out that hasn't been returned and is lost under the bed.

After a week later, I set up a new Library Elf account as my mother -- different name for the account, different email, but the same library card number and PIN. No problem. And no "oops, someone already has that card" notices from the Elf. Interesting, I thought, that this could be done and you wouldn't know about it. But, I realized, if someone was going in with my card number and PIN on the library catalog, I wouldn't know about that either.

A few weeks later I needed to check something on my Library Elf account. After signing in, there's a brief account summary and an option: View My Account Settings. I clicked on View My Account Settings.

And that's when I saw it -- an asterisk next to my mom's account information, and the notation "This card is viewed by other accounts." I clicked on the hypertext of "other accounts" and came to a page: "Cards Viewed By Other Accounts."

It gave the name of the card holder, the library, the library card number -- and the email address of the other account. I quickly logged out as me, logged on as my mom, and got the same notice with the same information. I'm not sure if its the Library Elf or how I did the accounts, but both times the name that came up was the name of the cardholder per the library system. Both times it was the email of the "other" person who had set up the "other" account.

Bottom Line: To know if someone else is checking your record via Library Elf, all you have to do is periodically log in and view your Account Settings. You won't get the name, but you will get the email of the person; and you'll know for sure, rather than just suspecting, that someone is being a snoop; and you'll be able to act accordingly.

Meanwhile, Mom has asked that I keep her account on the Elf so she doesn't have to worry about remembering what's due when.


  • At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for mentioning this feature. Your explanation describes perfectly the reason why we put it in. Consolidating accounts is one of the most useful feature in Elf but because of privacy concerns we needed a way to deal with it. This was our answer to this complex problem.


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