FAQs

What's all this about, then?
LibraryHippo is a hobby project that I work on in my spare time. I wrote it to provide simlar functionality to that delivered by the Library Elf, but only for libraries that I frequent. It helps me manage my family's library cards.
What's this Google Account I need to sign up with?
It's an account that's issued and managed by Google. If you use Gmail or Google Maps or iGoogle or Picasa or tonnes of other services, you probably already have a Google Account. LibraryHippo uses them for authentication because they're very easy and secure - your credentials are encrypted when you enter them, and only handled by Google. LibraryHippo never sees your password, but once you log in, LibraryHippo does know your e-mail address, and uses it to remember your settings and to send you e-mail.
What does LibraryHippo do with my personal information?
Not very much. LibraryHippo only knows your e-mail address, and your name, library card number, and PIN for each library account you sign up with. That's not overly personal, when you think about it. LibraryHippo uses the information to:
  1. log into the libraries to check your cards
  2. send you e-mail
Currently, LibraryHippo stores a minimal history of the items you take out or put on hold - only the status of your last card check. This is done so that LibaryHippo can generate a daily summary for you family, even if there have been some problems checking your library cards. LibraryHippo doesn't provide this information to anyone else, at least until the government comes asking, but that's pretty unlikely.
Why can't LibraryHippo check my card?

It could be one of a couple of things. To see if the maintainers are aware of any far-reaching problems, checkout LibraryHippo's most recent Tweet:

Here are the kinds of things that typically go wrong:

  • Sometimes the web interface for a library catalogue will be down for a while. Maybe it's undergoing maintenance, or maybe there's some kind of problem there. If the failures are recent and haven't been going on long, this is probably it.
  • LibraryHippo is not part of the libraries' ecosystem. It works by hitting the same web pages that humans do and "screen scraping" them. Sometimes the libraries will change their web pages in a way that confuses LibraryHippo. In such a case, the site maintainers will work as quickly as possible to adapt to the change.
  • Alternatively, if you've changed something about your card or account—you've a new card (and number), cancelled a card, or have changed your PIN—LibraryHippo may just need the new information. Visit your account page and make sure everything's correct.
  • You can always try to diagnose a failure by visiting the library's web page and trying to log into your account manually. It may reveal additional information.
How do I get help?
Send e-mail to librarianhippo@gmail.com.

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