The Canada Problem

My fellow LAs (Library Assistants) and I have been working on a problem in our system. We switched cataloging systems from Sirsi (Workflows) to Polaris in June, and some of the addresses in our database somehow got a bit off.

You see, when one enters “32601” for the zip code in an address in our system, it pops up a choice: Gainesville, FL, or Dublin, Ontario. The postal code for Dublin is 99999. “Well, that’s silly,” one might say. “Why would there be a choice for Ontario? That’s in Canada, thousands of miles from sunny Florida!” Yes, it is silly, and we’re not quite sure why. But, suffice to say, we have been working around it. However, we recently had a rash of returned mail that, you guessed it, had the postal code of 99999 on the envelopes. Normally, returned mail is not a problem, but in this case, sending mail to another country is a bit more expensive, and is winding up costing us about $3 per returned envelope. So we took a look at the system, and found over 700 instances of a 99999 postal code in place of the right one.

“No problem,” one might say, “just change the zip code to the right one, right?” Easier said than done, my hypothetical friend! We have a dozen branches in Alachua County, and that doesn’t include all the out-of-county addresses we have as well. Since the city is defaulting to Dublin, we can’t look it up that way either. Fortunately, many of the entries just had a blank second address in addition to the regular mailing address, so we just deleted those, and moved on. Some of them have recognizable street names in Gainesville, and could be guessed from there. Some of them have to be extrapolated from the city where the patron registered. Some have unfamiliar street names and can’t be pulled at all. And the rest are accounts with no address, or a PO Box, or are technical internal accounts that don’t have addresses on them. We’ve brought it down to about 352, so half of what the original number was. Which, for starting on Wednesday and doing it a little at a time in between tasks, is really not that bad.

So that’s the Canada Problem. A bizarre tale in the daily workings of the public library!


Bonus! Here is today’s Moment of Cute: A tiny little girl, probably no more than two, came into the library today wearing a very cute pink dress. I was also wearing a pink dress and pointed out that we matched! She was very excited and did a little twirl. It was ADORABLE. Moments like this are why I love my job!



Filed under At the Library

3 responses to “The Canada Problem

  1. Toni

    Very cute, indeed!

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