Determining which available item will fill a hold request (RTF processing)

housekeeping

Wes Osborn

If there is more than one available copy to fill a hold request, then Polaris will use the Request to Fill (RTF) processing rules, detailed in the post below, to determine which copy should fill a requst. If there is a waiting list for the title, then Polaris will use the process described in this article.

Initial RTF Processing steps

When a patron places a hold request:

  • Polaris will immediately check the RTF processing rules and earmark a specific item to fulfill that request.
  • If the request is for a specific copy/volume, then Polaris will only consider those items that match the request’s copy/volume as potential available items.
  • The earmarked item will then show up in the Request Manger Workform as an Active request for the library where the item is currently located.
    • This list of Active requests is called the RTF list or the pull list.
    • All member libraries should check their RTF list at least once a day.
  • Polaris will set the Pending date on the item that has been earmarked to fill this request.

Handling requests that aren’t filled

If the earmarked copy of a hold is NOT checked in to fill a request:

  • If the currently earmarked item becomes unavailable for some reason (checked out to another patron, status changes to missing, Ask me Later feature is used), then Polaris will immediately attempt to earmark another available item to fill the request.
  • If no action is taken on an earmarked item, each morning starting around 5am, Polaris runs an RTF Processing job
  • The RTF Processing job examines the Pending date for the earmarked copy and compares it to the Days at branch setting, which is typically 5 days. Closed dates DO impact the Days at branch setting.
    • If the earmarked copy has been on the Active list for the branch for less than or equal to the Days at branch setting, then the earmarked copy remains on the branch’s Active list.
    • If the earmarked copy has been on the Active list for the branch for more than the Days at branch setting, then Polaris will attempt to earmark an available item from another branch to fill the request.
    • If there are no other available items to fill the request, then the current item will continue to remain earmarked for the request and it will continue to show up on the Active list.
    • If the hold request has been Active in the Primary Queue for more days than the Primary Queue setting, Polaris will move the request to the Secondary Queue to attempt to find an available copy from the libraries listed in the Secondary Queue. Primary and Secondary Queues are described in detail below.

RTF Queues

Each pickup branch has a Primary and Secondary RTF Queue that are evaluated to determine which item should be earmarked when there are one or more available items. If there is a waiting list for the title, then Polaris will use the process described in this article.

While the request is in the PRIMARY queue ANY available items from responding libraries in the PRIMARY queue are trapped at CKI to fill requests - even if another item has already been earmarked. CKI’d in items from a responding library while the request is in the PRIMARY queue will ALWAYS fill a request even if that library has stopped RTF processing. Stopping RTF processing only prevents items from being added to a library’s pull list.

Once a request enters the SECONDARY queue, only the earmarked item will fill the hold request.

Primary RTF Queue

The Primary RTF Queue is the first list of branches that Polaris tries to find an available item to fill a request from. The Primary Queue is a sequential list of some of the branches within the CLC.

  1. The pickup branch is always listed first in the Primary Queue. Having a locally available copy fulfill the hold request is the quickest and most efficient method.
  2. If the pickup branch is part of a multi-branch library system, then the other branches within that system are checked next for an available copy. Using copies from other branches within the same system to fill the request is efficient because the branches are often geographically close to each other and it also leverages resources within the library system to fill local requests before looking elsewhere in the consortium.
  3. Polaris will then look for other locations with an available item that are on the same delivery route. Having the request filled by another location on the same delivery route may mean faster fulfillment of the request because the item may not need to travel to the centralized sorting location and instead could be directly delivered within the same delivery run.
  4. If Polaris still has not found an available copy, it will next look for a copy at any CML location. CLC lists the CML locations next in the Primary Queue to help balance the net lender/net borrower ratios within the consortium. Because CML has so many patrons, they are typically net borrowers. Placing their locations in the Primary Queue for all members, means that the Polaris system aggressively attempts to find available copies within their branch to help balance out the net borrowing the typically occurs.
  5. If a request was earmarked with an item from Primary Queue, but that earmarked item doesn’t fill that request for some reason, then the system will attempt to find another available item from the Primary Queue, starting with the next location in the list.
  6. If none of the branches in the Primary Queue have an available copy, then the system will immediately go to the Secondary Queue to check for an available copy.

Secondary RTF Queue

The Secondary RTF Queue is a list of all branches within the consortium. Once a request enters the secondary queue, ONLY the earkmarked item will fill the request. Other available items that might become available via a Check-IN action will no longer fill the request.

  • If Polaris canNOT find an available copy within the Primary RTF Queue, it will pick a random point in the Secondary Queue and start looking for an available copy.
  • Within a Hold Request workform, if you click View -> Notes, you can confirm that no copies were in the Primary Queue. If a request was placed and then the next line above the request that was placed shows something about the Secondary RTF processing, this is an indication that there were no available items in the Primary Queue.
  • If a request was earmarked with an item from Secondary Queue, but that earmarked item doesn’t fill that request for some reason, then the system will attempt to find another available item from the Secondary Queue, starting with the next location in the list. The system will continue to cycle through the locations listed in the Secondary Queue.
  • Once an item enters into the Secondary Queue, it will not return to the Primary Queue list. However, since all branches are listed in the Secondary Queue, the request will still be filled if there are available copies at any location.
  • If a request has exceeded the total allowable time in the Secondary Queue, then it will no longer show up on any RTF/pull lists.

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