Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Millennium and Patron Privacy

Some local users of III's Millennium library system inform me that Millennium now keeps a record of the last user to return a book (or other item), and that record is kept until someone else checks out and returns the same book. The story that I have heard is that libraries wanted to keep the record in case they later discover some problem, such as damage to the item or a missing disk.

My understanding is that in the past the connection between the patron and the book was removed when the patron returned the book. I have seen various privacy policies that touted this as an important protection for patrons.

The librarians I talked to said that Millennium had the option to increase the number of past patrons from one to four, but that there was not a way to prevent this data from being kept.

Can anyone confirm this change to the Millennium software? And if you know of a way to turn off this "feature" could you let me know? It seems that a change of this nature, if it indeed has taken place, is significant and should be widely known.

6 comments:

James said...

I can't speak to much, but as a student working with a III system at the University of Cincinnati Library back in 2002, I saw that there was a field for the last patron on each item record.

DataGazetteer said...

It has been many years since I managed an INNOPAC/Millennium system, but as I recall there is a "last patron" fixed-length field that can store record number of the patron record that last checked out the item. Note that it can do that -- it is a system option that can be set. (There is also a system option independent of this one that sets whether the system will store in the patron record the timestamp of when the item was last checked in.) It is also possible to perform a rapid update on this field, so one con conceivable run a rapid-update to set the last patron value to zero after it has been checked in for a period of time.

I'm too far out of the Millennium loop to know, however, if there is an option (now or coming in the future) to increase the number of saved patron record numbers from one to four.

arkham said...

Looking at the III documentation, you can store a last patron, but it is an option. I don't see anywhere that that can be increased to more than the last patron. Although, considering the state of the documentation, it is possible that that option is listed somewhere else.

When I worked circ, having the last patron information held was very useful in that when it was discovered that an item had been checked in that had been damaged, or returned incomplete (such as 1 disc of a set missing), we could contact the last patron to have the item checked out.

Anonymous said...

As a recent Millennium administrator with several years experience, I can state that this is not a new feature. The record number of the last patron to check out the item is indeed retained. I don't believe this feature can be disabled.

Anonymous said...

It's not new and I've been told it can be disabled, but then the sys admin would need to run a rapid update to delete all information of previously returned items from all patron records.

Debbi said...

The lpatron field is definitely not new -- it's mentioned in documentation as far back as 2004. As several others have noted, use of the field is optional.