Attracting Digital Users with Easy Access: Online User Registration for Electronic Resources

Melissa Carle & David LeCrone, KCPL

Previous Process

  • Hard-clunky
  • Online web form — that reflected the paper form — sent to circ staff via email
  • staff creates card & sends by mail to verify user’s address
  • a time-consuming, manual process
  • Sirsi had an online registration mechanism, but it was clunky & didn’t work well in e-library, the previous generation OPAC
  • Mailing, up to 10-day process to get a card in user’s hand

Different Concepts — based on Policies

  • “Taster card” <– didn’t work
    • valid for a limited time
    • limited privileges
    • move patrons eventually to traditional cards
    • all electronic things access, could later be physical
  • Online signup for the traditional library card
    • same account privileges as everyone else
    • adjust workflow to verify addresses, etc
  • Digital Card <– their solution
    • Focus on immediate access to digital resources
  • Thought of lots of ways to make this expensive

Focusing on Digital = “eCard”

  • Marketing person came up with this concept
  • No need to verify mailing address
  • No need for extensive physical borrowing privileges
  • No need to provide a physical card
  • If they do visit us in person, we can issue a traditional card
  • When you remove the policies related to physical items, it becomes much easier


  • Users have immediate presence in the ILS
  • Users can be authenticated immediately by Online Services
  • No staff mediation
  • Focus on ultimate service and not the software mechanism


  • Online form to fill out; certain fields required (email address; PIN; zip code
  • Form is submitted; immediate account in ILS and email sent to patron’s email account with activation link, includes account number & PIN
  • After the confirmation, and clicking on library link, it takes you to eresources page.
  • Second email — confirms activation
  • Welcome email – Third email sent a day later, including all the things you can do with the eCard

Access restrictions

  • Over 13 only — board policy; path of least resistance & also being done in a very quick timeframe
  • Library doesn’t verify the street addresses
  • Restrict by Zip Code to metro area: Closer to “one metro library card” concept
  • Cannot duplicate name already in the ILS

Emphasizing access over ownership and remove barriers — cope with a few bad seeds

Collection development — all for access to digital resources; increasing circ. More access –> more stuff getting bought.


  • Messy Data
    • abbreviations, misspellings, capitalization
    • NCOA data scrub from Unique Management
  • Cheaters
    • false emails, name, age, address
  • Poor customer experience
    • eligible for eCard, but prevented from self-registering
  • Little appeal/traction among users

Staff Training

  • Recognizing eCard profiles in the ILS
  • Moving account from eCard to traditional card
  • Manually signing patrons up for eCard
  • Troubleshooting online registration issues

Getting physical stuff

  • the online cards are allowed to place up to three holds in the ILS
  • when the user comes in, their card is converted to a physical library card after their address is verified with their ID
  • Most of our database vendors seamlessly accept the new physical card User ID, with the noted exception of Overdrive


  • In the eight months since we went live, over 2500 accounts activated — 260 a month
  • Only 4.5% of these accounts have been transformd into full collection access cards
  • Have we become a daily part of their lives? A weekly part? How many people were just in the moment?

12pm-4pm heavy use; 9-10pm as well

Photos of data around usage

Consider this to be a very successful launch in the 9 months since it was launched — lots of promotion online — because audience isn’t going to be coming into library.

Birthday verification question — gold standard — but capability not in their ILS yet

Outreach to users — broadening library service — is where the marketing needs to happen to push e-resources.

Expired Cards? 

  • NCOA database scrub — solution….
  • Public services doesn’t want to delete cards anymore