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Beginning-of-Year Procedures

Beginning-of-Year Procedures

Here are some answers to common questions and tips for beginning your school year with Alexandria. Please note that several of the procedures described here, such as updating calendars, advancing patron grades, removing graduated students, and updating patron policies, overlap with our End-of-Year Procedures. If you took these steps at the end of the previous school year, you don't need to do them again! Also note that procedures involving calendars and patrons overlap with Textbook Tracker, meaning you only have to do those procedures once to count for both Alexandria and Textbook Tracker.

  1. Update Calendars
  2. Advance Patrons
    1. Advance Patron Grades
    2. Update Patron Policies 
  3. Import Patron Records
  4. Remove Graduated Students
  5. Update Expired Cards
  6. Backups


Calendars

Set your Closed and Period Due dates.


 
Advance patrons

Advance patrons to the next grade.

 
Import records

Update and add new patron information.

 
Graduated patrons

Remove graduated patrons from your database.

 
Update cards

Renew patron library cards.


Backups

Be prepared. Back up your self-hosted data.


Additional resources:

  • Check out the Back-to-School Workshop video if you would like to be walked through the procedures mentioned here.

  • Need a quick refresher on how to operate Alexandria? Read the Alexandria Refresher.

  • If you're still using Alexandria v6, go through the Beginning-of-Year Procedures for v6 instead.

  • Print out this handy Beginning-of-Year Procedures infographic to keep at your desk. It's a great reminder of what needs to be done!


Before running any of the data-changing utilities described in the steps above, create an archive so you have a restore point if something unexpected happens.

Calendars

Calendars are used in conjunction with Patron Policies to accurately perform circulation-based calculations, like due dates, fines, holds and reservations, etc. Alexandria will not adjust the due date after an item has been checked out, so it's important to establish your Closed and Period Due dates at the beginning of the year, before any items or resources are checked out. Read Calendar Preferences to learn more.

Preferences: Calendars (2:50) (info)

The Calendars Preference in Alexandria lets you set up your own calendars to mark closed days and period due days, and assign certain calendars to patron policies. 

Download  (30 MB) | Script (PDF)


  1. Go to Preferences > Calendars.
  2. Select a calendar from the list on the left.
  3. Choose a date and click once for Closed, twice for Period Due.
    1. To close the same day of the week for the entire month, click on one or more day of the week headings at the top of the calendar.
    2. Click + to add a note to a particular date.
  4. Click Save and move on to the next month, or the next calendar.
  5. Repeat step 2-4 for each calendar.

Patrons are assigned to a calendar according to their Patron Policy. Go to Preferences > Policies and check that each patron policy is assigned to the correct calendar and that Apply Period Due Dates is checked.

Period Due is a date by which all items should be returned to the library. The circulation period just before this date will be shortened so items are returned in time. For example, if you set a Period Due date of May 13, all items checked out before May 13th—that would have been due after the 13th—will be assigned a new due date of May 13th. Set a Period Due date to remind patrons to return their borrowed items before the end of the year or another specified period.

Advance Patrons

(star) Beginning or End of Year

Advance patron grade levels and remove patrons who have graduated or transferred to prepare your system to import new students for the next year. Some libraries do it at the end of the year, and others do it at the beginning of the year. Either way is fine, just don't skip it.

Advancing Patron Grades (3:19) (info)

Learn how to Advance All Patron Grades and update patron policies afterwards.

Download (36 MB) | Script (PDF)


Advance patron grade levels

(warning) Skip this step if you manage patron data with SIF or Clever.

There are two ways to advance your patron grade levels for the next year. Advance All Grades in Patron Preferences is the easiest option, but the Advance Patron Grade utility allows you to advance a more select group of patrons. Patrons who advance past the final grade in the grade table are assigned the value for Last Grade, which is usually "Graduated".

Advance All Grades

Advance all of your patrons to the next grade level at the same time.

  1. Go to Tools > Preferences > Patrons.
  2. Open the Grade Table tab.
  3. Double-check the grade table and the Last Grade field for accuracy.
  4. Check the Advance Grade After date, and change it if necessary. This is usually the graduation date or the last day of school.
  5. Click Advance All Grades.


Advance Patron Grade utility

Need to be more precise about which patrons to advance? Select patrons by one or more options, including status, security group, policy, homeroom, grade, last name, and barcode.

  1. Go to Tools > Utilities.
  2. Select Patrons > General category on the left.
  3. Choose the Advance Patron Grade utility on the right.
  4. In the Selections tab, enter the criteria needed to select the patrons you intend to update.
  5. Click Run.

Change patron policies

Do your patron policies match your patron grade levels? If not, you need to update each patron record so their policy matches their new grade. Run the Change Patron Policy utility for each grade.

  1. Go to Tools > Utilities.
  2. Select the Patrons > General category on the left.
  3. Choose the Change Patron Policy utility on the right.
  4. In the Selections tab, enter the criteria needed to select the patrons you intend to update. 
    1. Patrons with a Status of: Limit the operation to one particular status, like Active, or choose Any to include them all.
    2. Patrons in Grade: Enter the user-defined value for the grade that needs to change (e.g. 8th), as defined in Grade Table preferences.
  5. In the Options tab, choose the policy that will be assigned to the selected patrons.
  6. Run the utility.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 for each grade, as needed.

Do you keep records for graduated patrons?

Run this utility to assign the Graduated policy to your recently graduated patrons. If you don't have a Graduated policy, create one first.

Import patron records

(warning) Skip if your patrons are synced with SIF or Clever.

Patrons will transfer in and out of your school. You'll want to clear out patrons who have left, add new patrons to Alexandria, and update existing patron information. You can do this all through imports.

Patron information can come from any source that provides a text file in a tab-delimited file format; most word-processing and spreadsheet applications support files in tab-delimited format. In most cases, patron data is readily available in a machine-readable format from your school’s front or district office. Other schools automatically import updated patron information from a Student Information System (SIS). Since all libraries import patron information a little differently, check with your school or district office to find out how patron data is maintained.

Clean up Your Records with Patron Imports (2:44) (info)

Some students leave during the summer. Learn how to weed those records out using your patron import. 

Download  (30 MB) | Script (PDF)

Before you import new student records, using the Change Patron Location utility can help you later determine which patrons are no longer enrolled at your school and should be removed from the database. 

Change Patron Location utility

If your tab-delimited import file includes patron homerooms, change the Homeroom for all of your currently-enrolled students to the same value. This example will replace the Homeroom for all of your currently enrolled students to “Gone”.

  1. Go to Tools > Utilities.
  2. Select the Patrons > General category.
  3. Choose the Change Patron Homeroom utility on the right.
  4. In the Selections tab, choose the options needed to select a group of student patron records. For example, you may want to select a student-only policy and/or security group — you don't want to accidentally update Operators and/or Staff records.
    1. Patrons with a Status of: Active
    2. Patrons in Security Group: Patron
    3. Patrons with a Policy of: (Student)
    4. Patrons from: Homeroom
      1. Leave the From and Through fields blank if you want to update them all.
  5. In the Options tab, type “Gone” in the Change Location to field.
  6. Run the utility.

The Homeroom field for all of the patrons matching your selections will be changed to "Gone". Next, import your new student records from your SIS. 

If you changed the term "Location" to "Homeroom" in Preferences > Localization > Terminology, the utility will show up as Change Patron Homeroom. If not, it will show up as Change Patron Location.

Import Patrons

Quick Patron Import

A new import at this point will update the Homeroom for all patrons who are returning for the school year. Those who are not returning will retain the Homeroom "Gone".

  1. Go to Tools > Import.
  2. Select the Patrons category on the left.
  3. In the Imports pane, click Choose File. Locate the import file on your computer.
  4. In the Settings tab, make the following selections:
    • Skip First Record: Check if the first record in your import file is an unrecognized header.
    • Patron Updates: Allow Import to Modify Existing Records
  5. Run the import.

The Homeroom for all returning patrons will be updated. The next step is to remove the other patrons, the ones with the Homeroom "Gone". 

Remove Patrons utility

Now that your student records have been updated, run the Remove Patrons utility to remove those patrons who aren't returning.

  1. Go to Tools > Utilities.
  2. Select the Patrons > General category on the left.
  3. Choose the Remove Patrons utility on the right.
  4. In the Selections tab, choose the criteria for the patrons whose records should be removed. Make sure Patrons from Homeroom is set to "Gone".
    1. Patrons at Site:
    2. Patrons with a Status of:
    3. Patrons in Security Group:
    4. Patrons with a Policy of:
    5. Patrons from Homeroom: Gone
  5. In the Options tab, choose if you want to remove patrons matching your criteria who still have items checked out or outstanding financial items. (Optional)
  6. Run the utility.

And that's it! You may need to run this utility a few times, depending on your selection criteria.

Remove graduated patrons

(star) Beginning or End of Year

(warning) Skip this step if you keep records for graduated patrons.

Run the Remove Patrons utility to remove graduated students from the database. You may need to run it multiple times with different selections, depending on your needs.

  1. Go to Tools > Utilities.
  2. Select the Patrons > General category.
  3. Choose the Remove Patrons utility on the right.
  4. In the Selections tab, enter the criteria needed to select the individual patrons or groups of patrons you intend to remove. 
    1. Patrons with a Status of: Limit the operation to a single status, like Active or Transferred, or choose Any to include them all.
    2. Patrons in Grade: Enter the user-defined value for Last Grade (most commonly "Graduated"), as defined in Grade Table preferences.
  5. In the Options tab, choose if you want patrons to be removed even if they have items checked out or outstanding charges.
  6. Click Run.

Do you manage patrons with SIF or Clever?

When patron data is synced with Alexandria via SIF or Clever, patrons who have an active record in Alexandria but are no longer included in the synced data will be marked as Transferred. Those patron records will need to be removed manually. Run this utility to remove patrons with a status of Transferred.

Update Expired Cards

(warning) Skip if card expiration dates are disabled.

Do you use expiration dates for patron library cards? Run the Renew Patron Cards utility to update the expiration dates for the new year. It will reset and update the Card Exp. Date for all matching patrons to a date X number of days from when the utility is run, as specified in their Patron Policy.

For example, if the patron's policy has Days Patron's Card is Active set to 365 and the utility is run on May 30, 2019, the patron's new expiration date would be May 29, 2020.

Update Expired Patron Cards (1:22) (info)

Do some of your patrons have cards that are expired or expiring soon? Use a utility to renew their cards.

Download  (17 MB) | Script (PDF)

  1. Go to Tools > Utilities.
  2. Select the Patrons > General category on the left.
  3. Choose the Renew Patron Cards utility on the right.
  4. In the Selections tab, enter the criteria for the patrons whose cards you want to renew. To renew ALL expired patron cards, leave the default settings.
  5. Run the utility.


Backups

(warning) Self Hosted, only. Skip if your library is Cloud Hosted.

Finally, create a complete backup of your Alexandria Data folder. Unlike an archive, backups are considered a "last resort" in case everything else fails.

Don't store your backups on the same device as your library data station. We recommend storing your backups with a file hosting or cloud storage service, like Dropbox or CrashPlan, which are specifically designed to backup to other machines or off-site servers. If you use an external hard drive, we suggest storing it in a fire-resistant safe in an off-site location. It may seem extreme, but you never know what will happen, and we want you to be prepared for the worst.

This is also a great time to review and possibly revise your backup strategy. Read Back Up Your Data to learn more.