Virtual assistance process: Manage Toronto Public Library books

  1. Visit http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca and click on Your Account. Sign in with the provided library card number and PIN.
  2. Click on Your Account, and then click on Checkouts. You will see a list of checked-out books sorted by due date.
  3. Click on the checkbox beside all items due by the following Saturday, and then click on Renew Selected Items.
  4. You should see a list of items that were renewed and items that failed to be renewed (maximum number of renewals, other users have placed holds). Copy the titles of the items that were not renewed into an e-mail under the heading “TO RETURN“, one title and date per line. Keep this list sorted by due date.
  5. Click on Holds. If there are any items under the heading Ready for Pickup, copy the titles and expiry dates to the e-mail under the heading “TO PICK UP”, one title and date per line. Keep this list sorted by due date.
  6. Click on Sign Out.
  7. Repeat steps for any other library cards indicated, summarizing the books to return and pick up under the same headings you’ve created.
  8. If there are books to return, log on to Toodledo.com. Click on Add Task in the upper left corner. Set the subject to “Return library books”, the due date to today, the context to Errands, and the note to include all the text (return and pick-up) from the e-mail. Add the task.
  9. Send me the e-mail with the title Toronto Public Library Report.

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  • OMouse

    I’m curious, how difficult would it be to do some of these tasks with a Perl/Python/Ruby script? It would be interesting to see an Emacs script that would update a particular part of an ORGmode file.

  • hmw

    Hi,

    there is a question that is going through my mind since the starting of the virtual assistant article sequence. Do you provide the assistants with credentials for accessing the various services? Isn’t that a little bit scary?

    Regards
    hmw

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    OMouse: It wouldn’t be that hard, considering I already have a Perl script that extracts the list of checked-out books from the library. Someday, I will get around to making it do all the other things, too, and to e-mail the results to me.

    hmw: Probably the worst thing the VA could do with my library card information is… umm… check out lots of books and have them delivered to a branch very far from me, in which case the holds would just lapse. So I’m not too worried about that particular account.

    Identity theft? Always a risk. Me, I’ve got way more personal information out there already, so it’s better for me that I keep a close eye on my financial transactions. Fortunately, I also enjoy balancing my books.

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Meh. Automating the renewal part turns out to be tricky. Has anyone programmatically submitted that form yet? I keep getting “To access this site, go here“.

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua
  • hmw

    Hi,

    hopefully you don’t have to explain them too often why there are tons of books delivered across the town for your account ;). Some service people at my former university library are just waiting for a reason to chop a student/customer into little pieces ;).

    Regards
    hmw

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    The Toronto Public Library is wonderful. They’ve never given me grief over ordering tons of books. Also, I donate to them, which probably helps. =)

  • hmw

    Hi,

    I guess you are waiting for the day when they give you a key for the main entrance of the library ;).

    Regards
    hmw

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    hmw: I’m looking forward to the day when I build one. ;)

  • hmw

    Hi,

    hopefully reading persists as a cultural technique for the masses. People who are extensive users of computers and the internet are often huge book aficionados. But having the declining reading comprehension of school children in mind I have the impression the gap between people who make good use of the ability to read and the people who make not becomes wider. Providing cheap library access may be one way to steer against that trend. Perhaps there is a problem with the mindset of some people in the industrial nations, too. Sometimes they don’t value education etc.

    Someday in my future as a retired hacker I see me sitting in an oldfashioned reading room. A fire is burning in the open fire place (not the best way to treat books), wooden bookshelves all over, my shortsighted eyes rushing over yellowed pages. The smell of burning wood, old books and floor polish is in the air. Ah, simple bliss.

    Regards
    hmw

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