Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is ReadingRecord?

Traditionally libraries have used paper systems to track Summer Reading Program participants. While this method works, we wanted a system that could:

  • Provide better tracking of participants & completed levels.
  • Reduce the number of duplicate registrations.
  • Provide statistics without manually counting paper records.
  • Allow patrons to register themselves.
  • Be used by many staff & volunteers simultaneously, preferably from a web browser.
  • Fit within our limited (read: non-existent) budget.

ReadingRecord doesn't replace paper reading records, but rather uses the information collected to track reading program participants & generate statistics. It is a hosted application, meaning that no additional equipment is required to use ReadingRecord - just a web browser. It can be used to track most any kind of reading program: traditional summer reading programs, winter reading programs, year-long programs, etc.

What are some of ReadingRecord's features?

  • Participants can register online, reducing staff time.
  • The library can allow patrons to register before the program starts, alleviating some of the “first day” rush.
  • Reduces the number of duplicate registrations.
  • Tracking of participants & completed levels.
  • Online access for patrons & staff using a web browser.
  • Tracks any number of levels & prizes.

For a detailed list of features, including fields tracked, see the features page.

How much does ReadingRecord cost?

There are a number of options, please see the Options for running ReadingRecord page for more information.

What platform does ReadingRecord run on?

ReadingRecord runs on the LAMP open-source web platform. LAMP is an acronym for:

  • Linux: The server's operating system.
  • Apache: The web server.
  • MySQL: The database engine.
  • PHP: The scripting language.

Furthermore, ReadingRecord runs on a virtual server using VMware software. Using virtual servers makes it easy to:

  • Create additional ReadingRecord servers should load demand it.
  • Move ReadingRecord to another server in the event of hardware failure.
  • “Upgrade” the ReadingRecord server by moving it to newer/faster hardware.

What is required to run ReadingRecord?

If your library has an Internet connection and a computer with a web browser, you can probably run ReadingRecord. Some basic requrements include:

  • An Internet connection. ReadingRecord is not graphic or page intensive, so even a slow connection should be adequate.
  • A reasonably current web browser. The developers try to avoid “browser-specific” code at all times. If you come across a page that doesn't work with your browser, please let us know!
  • A small amount of JavaScript is used on some of the pages. They should still work with JavaScript disabled, but extensive testing has not been done.
  • Cookies are required for the staff module. ReadingRecord uses a small cookie to track staff logins.

Who are you and why are you providing this service?

The Westminster Public Library was the primary sponsor of ReadingRecord as it began to grow, hosting it free of charge for small libraries in the state of Colorado. WPL has used Linux & open source software for over 20 years to provide a wide range of services to staff and the public. Part of the open source philosophy involves giving back to the community, and we felt this was a good opportunity to do so. Rather than create another in-house only system, we wanted something that could be used by other libraries as well.

In 2015 the Colorado State Library began sponsoring ReadingRecord for Colorado libraries. Those libraries eligible for free hosting were migrated from servers run by the WPL to servers operated by Limited North LLC, owned by Eric Sisler. The migration was transparent and remained in place until the end of 2015. In 2016 libraries in Colorado eligible for free hosting will begin using the '' domain rather than the '' domain owned by WPL. Other than this change ReadingRecord will continue to function as it has in previous years.

Eric Sisler is the creator and primary developer of ReadingRecord. He provides a cloud-based (hosted) solution for libraries wanting to use ReadingRecord without having to install & maintain it on their own. See the Options for running ReadingRecord page for details.

How can I use ReadingRecord at my library?

There are a number of options for running ReadingRecord, please see Options for running ReadingRecord for details. Those libraries eligible for free hosting or paying for the service provided by Eric should also:

  • Contact Eric Sisler to make sure we are still accepting new members. Including the word “ReadingRecord” in the subject will help expedite your application. ;-)
  • Stay current with ReadingRecord announcements & discussions by joining the ReadingRecord Google Group.
  • Provide feedback & report any problems encountered.

Is my library too small / big to use ReadingRecord?

ReadingRecord is designed for libraries of all sizes. It has been used for single branch libraries registering less than 200 readers to a 13 branch district registering over 30,000 readers. To get an idea of what size libraries are using ReadingRecord, see the statistics page. That said, if your library is larger than anything you see listed on the statistics page, please let us know so we can discuss any potential issues.

Can my library try out ReadingRecord?

Yes! See the Demo site info page.

Can reports be customized?

ReadingRecord provides the following standard statistical reports. The database can also be exported to a CSV file, suitable for importing into a spreadsheet program.

Can books and/or pages read be tracked?

Individual book titles and/or book reviews/ratings cannot be tracked at this time. If there's enough interest in these features they may be added in the future. That said, “book”, “pages”, “hours read” or just about anything else you can think of can be substituted for “levels”.

What happens to the data once the program is over?

Q: What happens to the patron's information once the reading clubs are over? Is their information wiped out or is it stored somewhere permanently?

A: That's mostly up to the participating library. Westminster Public Library has a 4-week rolling backup of all library servers, which includes the ReadingRecord databases. That said, there's no reason for us to keep the data from your program, so the databases will be deleted at some point after the program ends. The databases will remain archived until overwritten by the 4-week cycle, but after that they will be gone. If you want to keep the data, a database dump or export to CSV format is an option.

Is the data used for anything other than the reading program?

Q: Patron's information isn't used for anything other than reading club business, is it? (e.g. they won't get email blasts about programs or fund raising).

A: Yikes! ;-) The Westminster Public Library may elect to send an e-mail to our patrons about next year's program, but there's no way we'd use your data to SPAM people. Data from each program lives in a separate database - there isn't one central DB containing data from all participating libraries. Your data is your data, you can do what you want with it once the program ends.

Can additional cities, levels, etc. be added later?

Q: Oops! I forgot to include a city / zipcode / level / whatever. Can it be added later?

A: In most cases, yes.

What's the maximum number of programs / readers / completed levels supported by ReadingRecord?

By default, the maximum number of records supported by ReadingRecord is:

  • 6 programs per library. This can be any combination of toddlers, kids, tweens, teens, adults and just about any other group of readers you can think of. If you need to track more than 6 programs during a single reading program, it is possible to setup an additional site. (Eg: Children & teens could be tracked on one site, with adults & seniors tracked on a second site.)
  • 65.5 thousand readers per program.
  • 16.7 million completed levels per program.

If you feel this may not be adequate for your library, please let us know before you begin using ReadingRecord. Not to mention: Wow! You're really busy! ;-)

How does the random drawing feature work?

Drawings are based on completed level(s) and (if the field is used), library branches. You select which level(s) are included in the prize drawing and each level is a “ticket in the fishbowl”. An example based on levels 1-4: If I have completed bonus levels 1-4 and you have completed bonus levels 1 & 2, I have 4 tickets in the fishbowl & you have 2. You can try this out using one of the demo sites.

info/frequently_asked_questions_faq.txt (9929 views) · Last modified: 2019/02/04 20:00 by esisler