Questions and Answers About Our New Website

Your Oakland Public Library wants to provide the best services possible to the community--and this fall, that means a new website! We hope you love the new site, but we know you might have some questions. We're here to help!

Q: Why did you change the website?

A: The new website is mobile-optimized and easy to search and browse. OPL's new BiblioCommons catalog has better searching, provides the option for users to keep track of their reading and allows users to discover titles in new ways. Read more about what we love!

Q:  What is BiblioCommons?

A:  BiblioCommons is an online service the Oakland Public uses that makes it easier to track your holds and renewals and find the titles you are looking for in our collection. BiblioCommons also allows you to share ratings and commentary about the titles you find at your library, and to connect with other library users. 

Q:  Why do I need to register? 

A:  Registration allows you create an easy-to-remember username you can use to log in, so you don’t have to type your barcode every time you want to check your account.  

Registration also allows you to get personalized recommendations and contribute ratings and reviews.  

Q: Why do I have to create a username? I already have my barcode memorized.  

A: Once you’ve created your account and username, it’s up to you whether you use it to log in or keep using your library card number. You can use either one.

The reason we require all users to select a unique username is because the new catalog has additional optional functionality, like commenting on books and keeping track of your reading on shelves. And to support this, we need all users to create a username.   

Q: Why can’t my child create a username? 

A: In the United States, children under 13 are not allowed to enter free text on websites without parental approval (per COPPA: the Child Online Privacy Protection Act).  

Currently, BiblioCommons does not have an option to ensure parental approval, so they came up with the color/animal/number format for usernames, but we hope to provide other options in the future. Once a child turns 13, they will be able to select a username and have other free-text options available. 

Q: Why is the username I want already taken? Your website is brand new! 

A: BiblioCommons shares user contributions from libraries across the world. Usernames are shared across all BiblioCommons libraries. 

Q: Do I have to put in my birthdate?  

A: No, you don’t have to. If you don’t, BiblioCommons will assume you are a minor, and some features will be unavailable to you. In the United States, minors are not able to send or receive messages, create a username, or write comments. 

Q: Do I have to put in an email address? 

A: No, an email address is optional. It will be used if you forget your PIN and request a reset. We may also use your email address to send you notifications of items ready for pickup, coming due or overdue. 

Q: I saved a lot of books to My Lists In Encore. What happened to those?  

The titles you saved were not lost. You can import all the items from your wish list onto your For Later shelf. Just go to your For Later shelf, and then click the Import button to import your wish lists from the old catalog. This is a one-time process, and then you can move items to other shelves or lists as needed.  

Q: I can’t figure out where to renew my books.

A: There are two ways you can do this.  

  1. Point to the My Library tab, and then click Checked Out.  
  2. Click the My Library tab, and then click Next due or Total Items under Checked Out 

Once you are on your Checked Out page, use the checkboxes to select the desired titles and then click Renew.  

Q: Why does the catalog group items together by format?  

A: This is a unique feature of BiblioCommons and allows patrons to see all the options available for a specific item. The grouping feature is automatically clicked on for all accounts, but if you would like to see items listed instead of grouped you can turn this feature off by clicking on the list view option (farthest left option) to the left of the total number of results at the top of the search page.   

Q: I don’t like that my data is being shared with everyone else. I thought the library was supposed to keep our information private?  

A: We absolutely agree with you that the library must protect the privacy of patrons. The only information that's shared with others is information you choose to share. Read more about how OPL and BiblioCommons protect your privacy.

Q: How is the library going to prevent people from adding inappropriate comments to the catalog? Does the library review all of the comments that are added?  

A: There is a low incidence rate of inappropriate comments being added to BiblioCommons catalogs, as all content that users add is associated with their library card. The library doesn’t review any of the comments that are added. Rather, there is a community moderation model in place.  

If you see something inappropriate, you can click the Report this link. When 3 separate users report something, the comment is automatically removed and reviewed against the Terms of Use of the catalog.  

Anything we've missed?

Drop us a line, or call (510) 238-3134 during open hours.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Oakland Public Library