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Automatically creating student library accounts with data provided by the school district decreases barriers to access for students and reduces staff workload. PINES has developed a method for importing student data from school districts in order to automatically create accounts without manual intervention by library staff.
The name for this program is PLAY (PINES Library Access for Youth).
The “PLAY Card” program began as a pilot program with Chatham County schools and Live Oak Public Libraries in February 2020. The pilot was extended to several other library systems / school districts between the Fall of 2020 and the Spring of 2021. The PINES Executive Committee voted to make this a permanent program in May of 2021.
Permissions and Policies
These students may visit any PINES library and check out any material type, just like any other cardholder. They may also use all electronic resources available through their home library.
PLAY cards are limited to five checkouts at a time and to two holds at a time. Users are not charged overdue fines, but can be billed for lost, long overdue, and damaged materials as normal. Parents/guardians are responsible for these fines. The student's home library will be responsible for lost or damaged materials and long-overdue fines not recovered by other libraries for their materials. The account expires after one year.
The level of internet access (“Filtered” or “No Access”) is at the discretion of the library and school system and should be decided during initial discussions. PINES will designate “Filtered” or “No Access” on student accounts at the school district level. If library reservation software does not check for these settings, further procedures will need to be put in place by the library if students are not allowed access.
[Pilot approved 2018.12. Made permanent 2021.05]
Account Prefixes: Each school district is assigned a unique prefix. A list of all of the prefixes for participating school districts will be posted on the PINES documentation web site for libraries to refer to if a student knows their card number but not their prefix.
Duplicate Accounts: The PINES import process will check for an existing account with the same account number, but will not check for other possible accounts with the same name. It is acceptable for a student to have their PLAY Card account as well as a regular PINES account.
Graduating Students: When a student graduates, their account will expire at the beginning of the next school year (on October 15), and should not be renewed. They may apply for a regular PINES account at that time. If they wish to keep their circulation history, lists, etc., when they do so, they can be given a physical PINES card and their account can be updated with new information (new barcode, identification, Patron permission group, etc.).
Moving Between School Districts: If a student moves to a new school district that participates in this program, a new account will be generated for them. Their old account will expire at the beginning of the next school year, so they may have overlapping accounts for several months. If the student’s new school district does not participate in this program, their old account will remain active until the beginning of the next school year. They may apply for a regular PINES card through the usual process.
Reports: PINES will develop shared report templates that can be used by libraries to retrieve data about student account usage.
Policies will be developed by the PINES Student Card Working Group and be sent to the PINES Executive Committee for approval.
Barcode/Account Number: School-district prefix (determined by the school district and approved by PINES) followed by a student number unique to the school district (usually the lunch card number). For example: SAV123456.
Password: A default password will be assigned based on the DOB (MMYYYY). Students may change that via the OPAC. It will not get overwritten during student data updates. If the school system wants to provide their own passwords, this can be provided in the csv file.
Username: The default username will be the account number, but students may change that via the OPAC. This will not get overwritten during student data updates.
Card Expiry: The annual expiration date will overlap the beginning of the next school year so that continuing students will not have a period of time without access.
School and Grade: The student's grade and school information will be automatically updated shortly before they begin the next school year. So, in the summer months, the information on the account will display the previous year's information. The grade is stored in the Name Keywords field, which can be used as a patron search filter in the staff client, and also used in report template filters. Possible grades are: GradePK, GradeK, and Grade01 through Grade12.
Account Updates: A parent/guardian wishing to make any changes to an account such as school, grade, address, etc., should be referred to their school so that the school's database can be updated. PINES will then automatically update that information based on the school's data. The only fields that should be changed directly in PINES are fields that a patron may change themselves or that are unique to PINES: Username, Password, Preferred Name, Email Address, Hold Notification, and Account Preferences. The grade will be stored in the Name Keywords field, and the school will be stored in the Secondary Identification field.
Lost Cards: If a student loses their ID card, the school district issues them a new card with the same number, so nothing necessarily has to be changed in PINES. However, if there is concern that the card was stolen and someone else might be using it, staff can (at the request of the student/parent) put an alert on the account that requires staff to verify that the person presenting the card is the correct student. For instance, staff could ask the student to verify date of birth or address, which a card thief would be unlikely to know. If the student is using the mobile app or online services, the PIN/password is required, and third-party self-check machines should be set up to require the PIN/password as well.
The parent also has the option to opt out of the PLAY Card program and may register the child for a standard PINES card instead.
Duplicate Accounts: Students may have a PLAY card as well as a full PINES card. If a student moves between two participating school districts, they may have two active PLAY card accounts for a short period of time. These should not be merged.
Number of Concurrent Checkouts: 5
Number of Concurrent Holds: 2
Circulation Restrictions: None
Overdue Fines: None
Long Overdue / Lost / Damaged Fines: Charged as normal. Billed items that belong to other libraries should contact the student's home library for reimbursal.
Max Fine Block: None
If an account has checked out items and/or outstanding bills upon opt-out or expiration, the account will not be purged.
Communications: The library system will provide information to the school district to share with the students and parents regarding the library's materials, services, and policies. This information should also include the login name (prefix plus student ID number) and password (MMYYYY), and instructions on adding a custom username, changing their password, and setting their account and hold notification preferences. If the school system is providing their own passwords, this will need to be included in the communications, in place of the DOB-based password.
Library staff should be trained on the different policies that apply to student accounts, and should be prepared to handle questions from students and parents.
Single Point of Contact: A single point of contact at the library must be designated for PINES to send messages and notifications to. That point of contact will be responsible for handling problems internally or following up with the school district’s IT department. The point of contact will also be responsible for reporting changes to school information or system problems to the PINES Help Desk.
MOU: The library system and the school district must sign a Memorandum of Understanding. A copy should be provided to PINES.
Home Library Mapping: The library will review the list of schools in the list provided by the school district (see School District Responsibilities below) and match each school to the most appropriate home library. The spreadsheet will be updated with the home library's short policy name (e.g., LOPL-OM), and then given to PINES to import into the PINES database.
Third-Party Vendors: The library must determine if any of their e-resource or other third-party vendors rely on barcode prefixes (e.g., 21012) for access to their services. If they do, the library should communicate to their vendor that they should also allow access for accounts with the school district prefix (e.g., SAV).
List of Schools: The school district should provide basic information about all of the schools that will be a part of the project. The spreadsheet should include:
SFTP: PINES will host an SFTP to which school districts will push student data files. PINES will provide the school district with instructions on creating SSH keys to connect to the PINES server. The school district will provide the public key to PINES to grant the school district access to its unique directory.
Data Exports: The school district must export the data in the specified CSV format and with the specified file name.
Single Point of Contact: A single point of contact at the school district must be designated for PINES to send technical issues to. That point of contact will be responsible for handling problems internally and checking for exceptions files, if applicable. The point of contact will also be responsible for reporting changes to school information or system problems to the PINES Help Desk.
School District Prefix: PINES will assign a three-letter school district prefix to the school district. This prefix will be combined with the student's unique ID (ie, lunch number) to create a unique PINES account number.
Database: PINES will import the school district information and the school-to-library mapping data into the database.
SFTP: PINES will verify that the school district can access the SFTP and import files correctly.
Data Validation: PINES will verify that the student data file provided by the school district is in the correct format.
School Changes: If there are any school changes (new schools added, schools merged, schools closed, schools moved, etc.), the school district will inform the library system's point of contact. The library will need to collect the relevant information from the school district about the new school and submit a Help Desk ticket under the category “PINES / PLAY Card - New School.” The information that PINES needs in order to add a new school is:
Opt-outs: If a parent wishes to opt out, they will need to fill out the opt-out form at their school's office. The school district will update their database and create an opt-out file that PINES will automatically process to remove the child's account.
If the parent is concerned about the account being used before they are able to get to the school to fill out the form, the library should put a block on the account:
Notes on Changes: If a student wishes to change their address or other general information, they should do so by contacting the school district. Those changes will then be provided to PINES via the update file. Library staff should not make the changes directly because the changes will be overwritten by the school district.
The fields that will *not* be overwritten by school district information are:
Periodic Exports: The school district will create update files that include new students and updated student data (address changes, etc.). PINES will check for update files nightly, but the school district may opt to export less frequently. If a school district does not have the capability to send update files, full files can be accepted.
Annual Exports: The school district will do a complete file export annually prior to October 15 so that all continuing students will have their accounts updated with new expiration dates.
Opt-Outs: The school district will provide parents with an opt-out form and update the student database with that information. The school district will produce a separate opt-out CSV file so that PINES can delete the student's data. The school district will not include that student in any future CSV update files. The format of the opt-out file should be the same as the import file, but named in this format: District prefix followed by “OPTOUT” followed by date string (DISOPTOUT_YYYYMMDDHHMM.csv –> SAVOPTOUT_202003270245.csv)
School Changes: If there are any school changes (new schools added, schools merged, schools closed, schools moved, etc.), the school district will inform the library system's point of contact (who will inform PINES via the Help Desk) so that the mappings can be updated.
Student Updates: PINES will check the SFTP nightly and import any new update files found. New students will be added, and existing students will be updated.
Opt-Outs: PINES will check the SFTP nightly and import any new opt-out files. The student information will be deleted from the PINES database. An exception applies if the account has checked out items and/or outstanding bills.
Errors: PINES will collect and report any errors to the library system's point of contact. Exception files will be provided in the SFTP directory for school district to review.