Evergreen in Action

Managing patron penalties and alerts

Normally, a penalty represents a kind of punishment. In Evergreen, however, a penalty is an action or alert related to a problem with a patron account. Some classes of Evergreen penalties are related to financial liabilities (excessive fines, excessive money owed for other reasons like lost or damaged materials), while other Evergreen penalties are simply alerts to librarians about problems with a patron account such as an incorrect daytime telephone number or invalid email address.

What are penalties?

Library staff with the appropriate permissions can assign penalties to a patron account relating to patron misbehavior in the system. Penalties can range from a simple alert when a patron tries to check out materials to completely blocking a patron's ability to check out materials until that patron pays the fines that she owed to the library.

Libraries commonly want to block a patron's access to borrowing or requesting materials when she hits a certain fine or money owed limit.The Evergreen system refers to these types of penalties as standing penalties.

Creating a Standing Penalty

We can define standing penalties and what actions the system will take if a penalty reaches a certain threshold. 

  1. In the upper right corner of the staff client, click Admin > Local Administration > Standing PenaltiesThe Standing Penalty Types window appears.
  2. Click New Penalty Type. A dialog box appears.
  3. In the name field, enter PATRON_EXCEEDS_FINES.
  4. In the label field, enter Patron exceeds fine threshold.
  5. In the block_list field, enter CIRC|FULFILL|HOLD|CAPTURE|RENEW.
  6. (Optional) The org_depth field determines at which depth of the organizational unit hierarchy the penalty takes effect.
  7. Select the staff_alert check box to display an alert when the patron record is viewed in the staff client.
  8. Click Save.
The block_list field defines the list of functions that you want to stop the patron from being able to access. CIRC means circulation. FULFILL means fulfilling hold requests. HOLD means placing holds. CAPTURE means finding available materials in the system for hold requests. RENEW means renewing materials that are checked out. You can choose to enter all of these or only a couple. Items must be separated by the pipe character |. For example, CIRC|RENEW would block the patron from borrowing or renewing but not from placing holds.

    Creating a threshold for the penalty

    Now that you have defined a standing penalty for PATRON_EXCEEDS_FINES, you have to tell the system the threshold at which this penalty should be applied. If you do not define a penalty threshold, the penalty will never be applied.

    1. In the staff client, the upper right corner, click Admin > Local Administration > Group Penalty Thresholds. The Penalty Threshold window appears.
    2. Click New Penalty Threshold. A dialog box appears.
    3. From the Group selection list, choose the group to whi ch you want to apply the threshold. For this example, choose Patrons.
    4. From the Org Unit selection list, choose the level at which the penalty threshold will kick in. Many consortia set a maximum fine limit for all member libraries. For this example, choose the consortial organizational unit. This causes the threshold for your library's patrons to be the same wherever they go in the consortium.
    5. From the Penalty selection list, choose the penalty that you just created: PATRON_EXCEEDS_FINES.
    6. In the Threshold field, enter 10.00.
    7. Click Save.
    A threshold of 10.00 will cause the penalty to kick in when the patron's money owed balance reaches or exceeds ten dollars. Your library or your consortium may have a different standard amount. Many penalties in Evergreen do not have penalty thresholds associated with them, but all penalties pertaining to financial matters have penalty thresholds.

    Deleting Standing Penalties and Group Penalty Thresholds

    Both the Standing Penalty window and the Penalty Threshold window contain a check box on the left hand column of the list of penalties or penalty thresholds.  If you select that box, then click Delete Selected, the associated penalty or penalty threshold is deleted without asking for confirmation. If you accidentally delete a penalty or penalty threshold, you have to recreate it.

    Creating a penalty that only generates an alert to the librarian

    Evergreen penalties can be used to only generate an alert to the librarian. For example, perhaps your library wants to ensure that every patron has a valid daytime telephone number in their account. Some patron accounts might have been created without a complete patron registration form. This does not represent an emergency but, for the convenience of the library, when a patron with an invalid or incomplete daytime telephone number checks something out, you would like to notify the librarian that the patron's account needs some attention.

    1. In the staff client, the upper right corner, click Admin > Local Administration > Standing Penalties. The Standing Penalty Types window appears.
    2. Click New Penalty Type. A dialog box appears.
    3. In the name field, enter INVALID_PATRON_DAY_PHONE.
    4. In the label field, enter Patron has an invalid daytime phone number.
    5. Leave the block_list field empty. You do not want to prevent the patron from using the library; you simply want to generate an alert for the librarian.
    6. In the org_depth field, enter 0. This depth displays the alert for the entire consortium.
    7. Select the staff_alert check box to display an alert when the patron record is viewed in the staff client.
    8. Click Save.

    Now, when a patron with a missing daytime telephone number checks something out, the librarian will automatically see an alert message telling them that  the patron has an invalid daytime phone number.