RE: [Videolib] SSNs

Syp, Marc P. (MSyp@SLPL.LIB.MO.US)
Tue, 11 May 2004 17:55:11 -0500

Yes, yes, and yes.

We don't use SSNs and yes we have lots of problems. We do ask for birthdate
and mother's maiden name, but if a patron doesn't want to provide that
information, we don't force it. The only thing we require at the time of
issuance is a valid ID for proof of street address or proof of various other
conditions to determine eligibilty. The only pieces of information we
absolutely require are a name and street address. Basically that means that
we have a ton of patrons that just go out and get a new library card as soon
as they've maxed out their first one. Sometimes we catch them and sometimes
we don't. The problem is, if they get turned down at one branch, they
usually just head over to another one until they find someone who will issue
a library card because they haven't checked our patron records closely
enough to determine if they have already been issued a card.

We have cases where a patron has been issued 4 library cards -- a married
woman with a hyphenated last name has been listed Mary X-Y, Mary X Y, Mary
X, and Mary Y, and all records have slight to massive fines. We also get a
lot of people using their mother's, brother's, daughter's, cousin's card,
and sometimes it's very difficult to tell, as we don't generally make a
practice of asking for picture ID while someone is handing us a library
card. Also, to my knowledge we actually allow this practice. Don't ask me
why. Some people think it's nuts, but we're pretty lenient. It's part of
what we call public service, I suppose! :-)

Marc Syp
Supervisor, Film Library
St. Louis Public Library

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Julie Dinkins
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2004 4:06 PM
Subject: [Videolib] SSNs

I originally posted this on the circplus listserv, but am hoping there
are members of videolib who also may be able to assist.

Thank you kindly,

Our campus, like many other campuses, is moving away from SSNs. We now
issue student IDs with ID numbers in place of SSNs. But, here in the
library, we still need to issue cards for our off-campus borrowers. We
would like to stop asking for SSNs from these patrons, too. Currently,
we use the SSN to verify patrons over the phone and in person, if they
don't have their library card (we ask for photo ID and the last 4
digits of the SSN). And we also search on the SSN for duplicate patron
records in our catalog. Of course, we can search by last name, but
there are sometimes many duplicates.

Here are my questions:

1. Has your library begun to cease using SSNs?
2. If so, do you use something else in its place?
3. And if you do, what the heck do you use? It would need to be
something patrons can remember. We've considered some of the typical
birthdate - patrons probably won't like giving out this info
mother's maiden name - I've always thought this was a weird sort of
thing to ask for.
place of birth
last four digits of SSN - I think the same patrons who don't want to
give us their whole SSN, won't want to give us part of it.
4. If you don't use SSNs and aren't using anything in its place, has
this created any problems? Such as verifying a patron over the phone or
verifying a patron who doesn't bring in their library card or checking
for duplicate patron records.

Also, please give me an idea of the size of your library or campus or
patron population and whether you're a public or academic library.

Any help is truly appreciated!!


Julie Dinkins
Multimedia & Circulation Services Manager
Sonoma State University Library | 707-664-4077

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