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Harvard University Library Notes / May 2007 / No. 1337
HCL Imaging Services Launches Web-Based Credit-Card Payment System
Imaging Services (IS) in HCL provides a wide array of services to library patrons, and now it's making those services more accessible to its customers. With the introduction of a new web-based credit-card system, IS patrons have the convenient option of paying for reproductions of library materials online.
"Prior to the web payment option," explained Bill Comstock, head of Imaging Services, "international patrons who needed library reproductions had to go to a bank in their home country, obtain a bank check drawn in US dollars, and mail it to us. It's no surprise that, when we look back at many years of order information, we see that less than 50 percent of the estimates that we've provided were ever converted into orders. With the introduction of this new payment option, we hope to make ordering reproductions of library materials easier for patrons and more efficient for library staff."
Since taking credit-card data is not without security risks, development of the new web payment system has been long in the works. In addition, HCL's investigation into accepting plastic coincided with Harvard's decision to tighten security regulations. After a great deal of testing and collaboration with IT Services and Financial Services, Imaging Services is now one of the first departments in the University to accept credit cards in compliance with the upgraded standards. "One of the complicated but reassuring new features is that we don't have access to the patron's credit-card information," said Comstock. "The credit cards are processed by a third party off site—not even on campus. We just get a receipt noting whether the attempted transaction was approved or denied. We never see a card number."
Patrons who want to take advantage of IS services online start off by submitting one of the new inquiry forms available on the HCL web site or by contacting Imaging Services or a specific collections repository. If the material is available, and if the curator approves its reproduction, IS creates an estimate and refers the patron via e-mail to a link on the IS web site, where the estimate can be viewed. If the patron decides to place the order, another link goes to the third-party site where the patron can pay using a credit card.
Patrons who initiate orders at Houghton Library can now also pay for their orders via the web site, eliminating the need to walk over to the Imaging Services office in Widener Library to pay in person. "Our patrons are already telling us how pleased they are to be able to use credit cards for their orders," said Rachel Howarth, associate librarian for Public Services at Houghton. "For everyone, from our international patrons to those here at Harvard, this makes the payment process much more efficient."