About Hold Notifications
As of Circulation Manager version 2.2.9, the holds capability within SimplyE is a basic place-hold and manage-holds feature. The purpose of this document is to explain how the holds process works, to discuss upcoming development of the holds feature to provide holds notifications, and to correct a misperception related to one of the SimplyE Circulation Manager settings related to holds.
How Notifications Work in SimplyE
The Circulation Manager acts as an intermediary between the user's SimplyE mobile app and the commercial provider's e-book service. When a user makes a hold request in the SimplyE mobile app, it goes to the Circulation Manager. Then the Circulation Manager initiates a subsequent request (or management action) with proper credentials to the remote content provider (OverDrive, Baker & Taylor, Bibliotheca, etc.) on behalf of the user. Unfortunately, through version 2.2.9 there has been no mechanism through which the SimplyE apps could receive automated hold notifications from the commercial vendor when a patron's hold item becomes available. So, users must open the SimplyE app and manually monitor a hold's status.
Current Development for Holds Notifications
However, development is in progress to add automated holds notifications to the SimplyE apps. The notifications function is being integrated with the apps' (iOS or Android) operating systems as a background process so that real-time notifications can be posted to the mobile device. When implemented, the user will receive a notification of an item's availability as they receive other notifications on their mobile device.
The Meaning of the Default Email Address Setting
The Circulation Manager has two settings that affect its ability to process holds for the library. Both must be configured to enable holds functionality. The basic setting Allow books to be put on hold defaults to the value
Allow holds. The second setting, Default email address to use when notifying patrons of changes, is somewhat confusing. (The textual explanation for this will be revised in future versions.) It seems to indicate that patrons/users will be notified when held items are available. This is not accurate. As we mentioned above, there is currently no method for patrons to be notified automatically that their hold request has been updated to "available".
Because the Circulation Manager interacts with the commercial vendors' systems, it is required to work with the specific requirements the vendors have for their own e-book apps. One requirement of OverDrive specifically is that every hold request must be accompanied by an email address. This email address is used in their system to communicate details of the hold status to users of their proprietary app. The content in their email notifications is specific to their app, and does not provide any information which is helpful to the SimplyE user. Therefore, these emails cannot be used in the SimplyE system.
Nevertheless, an email address is required to create the hold successfully. Each library configured in the Circulation Manager must provide an email address value for the Default email address field. While no email is sent to that address from the SimplyE system, vendor-specific emails related to hold availability will be submitted to the address provided. Because the data includes potentially sensitive patron information, we recommend that the address be a type that is configured to discard (or perhaps bounce) all messages sent to it. You may have seen these used in other contexts: many services commonly use
firstname.lastname@example.org style for sending emails that won't be seen by a human.