Monday, July 16, 2007

Students, Faculty Can Use their Ball State Computer Account to Log in to the Libraries’ Online Public Catalog

In June 2007, the University Libraries introduced new features of the University Libraries’ online public catalog, CardCat, to give library users more control over their individual library accounts.

Ball State students, faculty, staff, and retirees can log in to CardCat using the same Ball State computer user name and password they use for Outlook e-mail and many other online campus services. While logging-in is optional, there are two major advantages to doing so:

• Logging-in makes the “My Library Account” link available from all screens without having to log in a second time. A redesigned account page consolidates information about items checked out, active hold/recall requests and scheduled video bookings on a single page. It is now possible to renew items on this page, too.
• Logging-in allows users to place recall/hold requests directly from CardCat. When an item is checked out, the left side of the detailed record view displays a “Recall/Hold Request” link. After clicking the link, you will have a chance to specify a pickup library and, optionally, enter an expiration date or “suspension dates.” Clicking “Place Hold” confirms the request. You can then check My Library Account to monitor your position in the holds queue or edit the hold.

More details and answers to frequently asked questions about these features are available at

In speaking about this initiative, Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of University Libraries, said “The success of this project is due in large part to the tremendous work of Jim Hammons of our Library Information Technology Services (LITS) unit. He solved the problem of how to use BSU e-mail credentials (name, password) to log on to CardCat.”

I collaborated with library information technology personnel at Vanderbilt University, Brigham Young University, and SirsiDynix Corporation to develop a log in solution using a common protocol known as LDAP (lightweight directory access protocol) and the Perl programming language. Additional support was provided by Katie Bohnert, also of LITS, and Daniel K. Fortriede of Ball State’s University Computing Services.

This initiative represents another example of where University Libraries’ personnel strive to make the Libraries’ programs, services, and collections easier to use and more responsive to the Ball State community. Early results are promising since there is data to show that hold requests in June increased 26% from the previous year.

For more information, contact James W. Hammons, Ball State University Libraries’ Head of Library Enterprise Services and Systems,,
(765) 285-8032.

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