Refresher—Circulation commands

August 26th, 2019

Who else forgets keyboard shortcuts two seconds after learning them? Well, you're in good company. Alexandria has many useful commands, but it's easy to forget what they are—especially if you've had a long break! Here's a refresher to get you back in the rhythm of quickly navigating the Circulation module.

H - Place a hold (on any copy)

  1. Bring up the patron placing the hold as the Current Patron in Circulation.

  2. Enter H in the Command Line.

  3. Scan the item barcode.

HC - Place a hold (on a specific copy) 

  1. Bring up the patron placing the hold as the Current Patron in Circulation.

  2. Enter HC in the Command Line.

  3. Scan the item barcode.

R - Renew an item

  1. Bring up the patron whose item(s) need renewing as the Current Patron in Circulation.

  2. Enter R in the Command Line.

  3. Scan the item barcode(s).

RA - Renew ALL of a patron's items 

  1. Bring up the patron whose items need renewing as the Current Patron in Circulation.

  2. Enter RA in the Command Line.

  3. Check the Renewals tab to see if anything didn't renew (e.g. because of holds). 

Also, remember that G lets you place Reservations, while J is the command for Reserves. Use Reservations to get a book, such as that Christmas title, for a specified period of time. And think of Reserves as in-library use only; an item on Reserve cannot be checked out. F jumps you to the Charges tab. X clears the screen. # leaves a note... we could go on. But we'll stop here.


Instead of trying to store all of these commands inside your brain, we have several resources you should definitely consider using:

  • Go to Tools > Reports > System > Barcodes and print yourself a copy of the Command Barcodes report. With this, you simply scan the barcode of the appropriate command.

  • See the full list of Circulation Commands in our Support Center.

  • And don’t forget you can always look at the Command Help tab when you can’t remember that specific command!


If you need any help while getting back into the swing of things, contact our Customer Support team by giving them a call (1.800.347.4942) or sending an email (support@companioncorp.com)!


Refresher—Printing labels

August 19th, 2019

If you've added new items to your collection—like we discussed last week—you might need to print some new barcode and spine labels. Here's some information on how to easily choose and customize your labels using Alexandria Reports!


Go to Reports > Copies > Labels and you'll find a list of spine and barcode labels. There are lots of options... so which one should you use?

Label options

Copy Labels (3x10). COMPanion part number V0055. Typically these work as your barcode labels. But you can print anything else on them, such as envelope labels. 

Copy Labels (4x20). COMPanion part number V0036. These are much smaller labels, which makes them good for study program indicators. 

Copy Labels (5x10). COMPanion part number V0034. These spine labels are a bit wider than the V0032 labels. They look better when you have longer call number segments, but fewer total segments.

Copy Labels (8x6, Tall). COMPanion part number V0032. Use these spine labels if you have several lines in your call numbers, as these are a bit taller than the V0034 labels.

Copy Labels (8x6, Tall), Variable. These are just like the 8x6 Tall report, but with a twist. The new variable options allow you to choose the number of rows and font size to get that perfect spine label.

Copy Labels (8x6, Wide). COMPanion part number V0032. These are the same label sheets as the 8x6 Tall, but it prints the information from a different orientation, so you get wider (but shorter) labels. 

Copy Labels (8x6, Wide), Variable. The variable version of the 8x6 Wide labels, which allows you to choose the number of rows and font size.

Custom label reports

All of the label options listed above are custom label reports, meaning they support advanced options to help you get that perfect label. What specifically can you do with custom label reports?

Customize the Data. Choose what gets displayed on each label row, such as your site name, barcode number, call number, author, or any custom text.

Bold. Make the entire text of the label easier to read or differentiate certain parts of the data by bolding it. 

Align. Print your call number text in the middle of your spine label, or on the left. Or on the right. Your choice. 

Choose the Font Size. Use one row per line of data to fit more information, or double up and choose large rows for larger font. 

Step-by-Step Instructions: Print some spine labels

  1. Choose the label report that best fits your needs. 
  2. Customize your Selections. For example, say you wanted to include copies added over the last three days. You'd simply enter the date range for the last three days for the Copies added selection.
  3. Under Options, sort the report by how you have your items stacked up, or by something like Title.
  4. If you have spine labels already, remember to set up the data and rows of this report to match your current labels as closely as possible. If this is your first set of labels, make those important formatting decisions!
  5. Click Create Saved Report if you'll need to print more of these labels in the future. Now you won't have to keep setting all the right selections and options each time!
  6. Run the report.
  7. In Operations Management, download the report PDF and open it.
  8. Print a test page first. Put normal paper in the printer, and choose to print only page 1 of your pdf. Once you're satisfied with how it looks on regular paper, try out a single sheet of labels. Adjust as necessary. Remember to set sizing to 100% in the print pop-up window. (And take a look at our other troubleshooting tips.)
  9. Once everything is good to go, print page 2+ (no need to print page 1 again!). 


If you need any help printing your labels, call us anytime at 1.800.347.4942!

These steps are for Alexandria version 7, which has a lot of cool label features. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to 7! 

Refresher—Adding records

August 12, 2019

A new school year probably means adding new students and new items. But it's been a while since you've had to work in Alexandria... You might be thinking, "Okay, I've opened the program... now how do I add records again?" Don't worry. We've got your back! Let's go through a quick refresher.


Add patron records

Importing patrons

 If you bring in your student records with an import, remember these five things:

  1. In Alexandria Imports, make sure you choose Patrons from the list on the left. Or things will NOT go as planned.

  2. Alexandria imports tab-delimited patron records in .txt or .tab format. (That's an easy export from Excel.)

  3. Are you adding ONLY or also updating your patron records? Pick the right option under Patron Updates!

  4. Don't mess up your barcodes. If your barcodes match your student numbers, and those are in the import file, choose to Use Barcodes in Import File.

  5. If you're real fuzzy on how this works, read all the information under Import Patrons

Adding patrons manually

Read through Add Patron Record for a quick reminder on how to add one patron at a time. Remember to enter an email so they can reset their password!

Add item records

Replace your copies first

If you did a bunch of weeding at the end of last term, you may want a list of popular or damaged items so they can be reordered. There are two ways to do this:

  • Run a Reordering Details report found in Tools > Reports > Copies > Information > Reordering Details. Be sure to enter a range in the Copies with Life to Date Usage of selection.

  • Do you use Discard Mode? Run the Discarded Copies report found in Tools > Reports > Copies > Special Status and select for a Discard Reason (e.g. "Loved to Death").

Add new titles early

What if you need to add titles that aren't quite ready for patrons yet? No problem! Just follow these steps:

  1. While importing new items, in ToolsImport > Items, make sure Set New Copies as 'In Processing' is checked in the Options tab. This makes it so they aren't "available". Alternatively, you can give those items the "On Order" System Patrons special status by following the steps in On the way—On Order
  2. In Preferences > Researcher > Auto-Hide, make sure the options for On Order and In Processing are unchecked. That way, your patrons can still find these items in your catalog, place holds, and get excited! (Plus, you can show them off in a Slideshow.)
  3. When your shiny new items are finally ready, bookdrop them to make them available. 
Importing items

 If you bring in your new item records with an import, remember these five things:

  1. Quickly review Alexandria's Import Settings so you can correctly add/update your titles/copies.  

  2. Still not sure which setting you are looking for? Read up on the various settings and scenarios such as Add or Update Titles & Copies > Import New Books.

  3. In Imports, make sure you choose Items from the list on the left.

  4. Look under the Options tab to set some defaults like Location, Shelving, and Policies. 

  5. Quick imports are great. But if these are settings you use often, click Create Saved Import and skip all the tedious steps next time.

You may want to read about Importing MARC Records from a Vendor if you receive item records from vendors.

Adding items with Title Assistant

Title Assistant is a powerful MARC retrieval and management tool you can use to avoid duplicates!

Adding items manually

You should add items manually when they don't have MARC records (like projectors). Simply click on the plus icon  at the bottom of the Items module. Then be sure to press Enter on your keyboard. Now you can fill in the item information and hit Save when you're done!


Now go and add all those patrons and items like a pro!


These instructions are all for version 7. If you are still on version 6, learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

Prep time—Beginning-of-Year

August 5, 2019

The world has turned yet again and it's getting closer to the new school term. What can you do to prepare your library with Alexandria? Well, we have quite a few resources for you to check out!

Beginning-of-Year Procedures. Every year we try to make them better. Read over our updated v7 Beginning-of-Year Procedures article to follow the steps or just make sure you didn't miss anything! Or are you still on version 6? We've got the same v6 Beginning-of-Year Procedures article for you. 

Back-to-School Workshop. Last year we put on a special workshop for back-to-school. And we recorded it! View the v7 Back-to-School Workshop to see it all. Or view the v6 workshop.


 Alexandria Refresher. Has it been weeks, or even months since you opened Alexandria? Then it's not surprising if you don't remember how it all works. Take a look at our Alexandria Refresher to get back into the groove. 


Training. Whether you are new to Alexandria or just need a refresher, we have multiple types of training to help you get up to speed. Our YouTube channel has a basic training series plus all our recorded workshops.

And did you know we put on webinars, like, all the time? Sign up for a webinar to get the BEST refresher. It's like 25¢ lemonade. But minus the 25¢. You can also purchase a personalized training—email sales@goalexandria.com or give us a call to arrange it!


SupportOur Customer Support is available to help you during this busy time. Give us a call (1.800.347.4942) or shoot us an email (support@companioncorp.com)! 

Take a look and use whatever you find most helpful. If you need anything, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Happy back-to-school!


Summer break cleanup, anyone?

May 13, 2019

End-of-Year Procedures

Before you can take a break with full satisfaction, you'll want to prep your library for the summer. We have some general recommendations on our blog, and we've revamped our End-of-Year Procedures article just for you. 

Have you been following our release announcements? Here are a few things that might be useful this time of year.

  • Run the Inventory reports in Alexandria and Textbook Tracker to find out what you have and what's still out.
  • When you email a Patron Details report from Circulation, add a note for Mom or Dad and ask for those items back!
  • End of year data cleanup? Yes, please! Read up on Cataloging Series and Serials, then run the Title Information by Series report to see how your series are being presented, and do some cleanup!
  • Want to change things up for next year? Take a look at your Researcher pane—it might need an update. Take advantage of all the icons we have available for you, and don't forget to add Browse!


Have a great summer! See ya next fall!

New features keep on coming for Alexandria 7. Are you still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7!

What have I read?

Tip for May 06, 2019

Do you have some voracious readers in your library? Maybe one or two of them have asked you to pick out books for them to read.

Let’s use Darla as an example.

I know she likes adventure, fantasy, and other teen reads. I recently read Anne of Green Gables for the first time—might that be the perfect book recommendation?—but how do I know she hasn't already read it? I could wrack my brain for a bunch of titles and present a stack of books to Darla next time she visits, so she can choose the ones she hasn’t read. Or I could be a bit more clever and check Darla’s reading history to see if she’s ever checked that book out. 

  1. In Circulation, go to the Patrons pane and open the Actions menu.
  2. Choose History to run a Patron History report.
  3. Open the PDF, and search it for the title you were thinking of.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) our memories aren't perfect. We can't always remember the plot of every book we've ever read, and sometimes we can't even remember if we've read a particular book or not. Being able to check your history is ever so useful!

In Alexandria version 7, your patrons can log in to Patron Status to see (and filter!) their complete reading history in the Returned tab.


Patron Status Returned


“It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”

― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Mobile inventory—Offline Mode

Tip for April 29, 2019

Inventory requires a lot of moving around. Do you want to be tied, literally, to your computer and scanner? Of course not. So let's go mobile!

Offline Mode Mobile


So, what do you need to be a mobile inventorying super librarian?

  • Alexandria 7 Offline Mode
  • A smartphone
  • A Bluetooth scanner connected to your phone
  • A library collection with scannable barcodes
  • A great attitude (Kidding! You can do this even if you aren't super happy about it.)

On your phone's internet browser, go to your library URL followed by /offline (mylibrary.goalexandria.com/offline), then choose Inventory mode and get to work!

BUT WAIT!

There are a few really really important things you need to know before you begin. Offline Mode is basically creating a transaction script, not real transactions, which means...

  1. Offline Mode keeps a running log of your inventory, but nothing actually happens until you hit the Upload button on the bottom right and send the data to your Alexandria. 

  2. The running log will not tell you if there are any exceptions. Once you upload the data, go to Operations Management and open the Info file for the transaction script import. Scroll through the list of transactions and look for "Exceptions: . . ." It will also show *** (status) or ??→ (out of call # order).

Mobile Offline Mode is only in Alexandria 7. Are you still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7!



Fewer clicks—Bookmark that

Tip for April 22, 2019

The end of the school year is quickly approaching, and you're probably running a lot of reports. Want to take a few clicks out of your workflow? Here are a few tips.

Chrome Tabs - Circulation

Version 7

Bookmarks. Each module has its own webpage, so it has a URL you can bookmark. In Reports, drag the URL to your bookmarks bar to access it directly next time!

Keyboard Shortcuts. In Circulation, use Command/Control+6 to open Reports in a new tab. See more shortcuts...

Moving back and forth between tabs a lot? Your OS/browser has a shortcut for that: Control+Tab to go right and Control+Shift+Tab to go left.

Version 6

Shortcuts. You must assign keyboard shortcuts to the menu item. On a Mac, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts, and select App Shortcuts on the left. Add a new shortcut for Application: Alexandria, like Menu Title: Reports, Keyboard Shortcut: Command+Shift+R

Moving back and forth between windows a lot? On a Mac, try Command+Tab to move between applications, or Command+` to move between windows in the same application. You can also set up Mission Control (System Preferences) for shortcuts to show all windows.


Tip for April 15, 2019

Do you perform inventory? (Silly question.) Do you weed items? (Another silly question.) Do you do those things at the same time? You can.

Utilities


We talked recently about Spring cleaning—Weeding old items which gave you some methods to identify items to weed. You could pull those items separately, but since you'll be working in your stacks to do inventory anyway, you could also use the Check Out utility to select a group of items and check them out to Discarded. 

  1. Navigate to Tools > Utilities and locate the utility. 
    • v6 – Check Out 
    • v7 – Check Out to System Patron

  2. Make your selections. Enter a "Copy last used date" range to select items that haven't been used in a long time – try a date in the far past, like 100 years ago, to something more recent, like 5 years ago. Or you could enter barcodes from your weeding list. 
    • v6 – Select By Barcode List
    • v7 – Check Show Additional Selections

  3. Set your options. 
    • v7 – In the Options tab, choose Discarded from the Check Out Selected Copies to dropdown menu.
    • v6 – in the Selection tab, set To Patron to 2-Discarded Copies.

As you're scanning items during inventory, listen for the alert sound that tells you when something unexpected happened – like if you scanned a discarded item – so you can set those books aside. 


What's that sound?

You can change it! In Preferences > Sounds, change the Inventory Alert sound to something else, like Buzzer. Now you'll hear it!

All the things—Print Details

Tip for April 8, 2019

Anton comes in to the library to ask, "Do I have any overdue books?" So you pull up his information in Circulation and see that, yep, there are a few. Then you go to the Renewals tab and tell him the titles of the three books that are overdue.

The next day, Anton comes back to you and hands you one book. "I forgot what the others are." So you tell him again. 

The next day he returns the remaining books then asks how much he owes in overdue fines. He has $1 but he owes $2.25. 

The next day—

Wait a minuteis this really necessary? No!

Patron Details


The first time Anton stops by your desk, pull up his record in Circulation, then enter Q in the command line to bring up his Patron Details that shows all of the books he has checked out and the balance he owes. You can print the report and hand it to him right there or email it to his mom (v7 only, email must be configured).

Now he knows all the things he needs to know!

Emailing details and receipts is only available in v7. Are you still on version 6? Learn about switching from v6 to v7! 



Tip for April 1, 2019

Nope, it's not an April Fool's tip!

During last month's Item Management Workshop, we took an in-depth look at the Item record fields and the tools to best manage them. Now, our Trainers want to give you some additional resources to show off your cataloging work.

Genre Explore Pane


Search Strings

Did you know you can use a search string with any Explore button? For example, you can use a search string to create buttons that perform searches across both the old 650_v Genre and the new 655_a Genre fields.

In Explore Builder, set the Action to Perform Search, then enter a search string. In the example below, replace Historical Fiction with the genre of your choice, then duplicate this string for as many genre-type searches as you need!

((genre::Historical Fiction)||(smart::Historical Fiction))


While you're at it, download our Improved Genre Buttons.txt and then update your Genre pane in Explore Builder. Go to the bottom of the Explore Pane list on the left, open the Actions menu, and choose Import Pane. Locate the file on your computer, then click OK.

Explore Builder

New to Explore Builder? Learn all about it in this workshop video!

Tip for March 25, 2019

You may remember the Command Line Shortcuts tip from a few years ago. (Or maybe you don't—take a look, it's excellent.) That was followed up by Command Line Shortcuts—AdvancedAlso a great read, but it wasn't complete. Here are a few more. 

Command Help Tab


There are four types of keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Management shortcuts let you add, save, remove, or find records.
  2. Navigation shortcuts that let you move between modules.
  3. Circulation command line shortcuts change screen focus between Circulation tabs.
  4. Circulation commands like R and H let you switch modes to Renewal or Hold.
Management shortcuts
/Ctrl RRemove record
/Ctrl AAdd record
/Ctrl SSave record
/Ctrl DDuplicate record
/Ctrl FFind records
Navigation Shortcuts (v7 only)
/Ctrl 1Go to Circulation
/Ctrl 2Go to Items
/Ctrl 3Go to Patrons
/Ctrl 4Go to Tools
/Ctrl 5Go to Researcher
/Ctrl 6Go to Reports
/Ctrl 0Open the Support Center
Command line navigation shortcuts
FCharges tab
FFCharges history tab
HWHomeroom tab
?Command Help tab
QPatron Details
+Patron Notes
++Copy Notes
LPatron Lookup
TTitle Lookup

Circulation Commands

See the Circulation Commands list for more!

Update your Researcher pane!

Tip for March 18, 2019

Over the weekend we released Browse, a new patron interface for browsing your collection. How do you add Browse to your Researcher? You can add a button yourself and use our icon. Or... you can import our pane!

Researcher


Import an Explore Pane

  1. Download this text file. Researcher Default Pane.txt
  2. Open your Explore Builder.
  3. From the actions menu (gear) choose Import Pane.
  4. Choose File and locate the downloaded text file. 
  5. Alexandria will import the pane; locate it under Researcher Default

Now what?

You can rename the pane. You can add things to it, change it around, whatever you want!

Customizing an existing pane? From any other pane, click Copy From Pane. Then locate the Researcher Default pane, and drag and drop buttons or icons onto your existing pane.


Remember, we have several collections of icons for you to use in Explore Builder, whether on version 7 or version 6.

Download icons from our website!


Browse is only in v7. Are you still on version 6? Learn about switching from v6 to v7! 



Tip for March 11, 2019

You are adding a new patron. You start typing in their homeroom teacher, only to realize you can't remember how to spell it. "Zie" is as far as you've got. What's next? Authority Control has you covered.

Authority Control


There isn't a visual indication that an entry field is managed by Authority Control, but as you type...

  • In version 6, type anything in the controlled field and it will pop up the list of terms.
  • In version 7, type the first three letters, and if it matches a term in Authority Control, a faint shadow text will appear with the full term. Tab out of the field to accept the suggestion, or continue typing to reject it.

But what if the suggested term is spelled wrong, like Zeigler instead of Ziegler? Clean up your terms

  1. From Tools, open Authority Control.
  2. Open the Homeroom category. 
    1. v7 - On the left, expand the Patrons category and click Homeroom.
    2. v6 - Set the dropdown menu to Homeroom.
  3. Locate the entry for the incorrect term, Zeigler, then click Edit Term. 
  4. Enter the corrections, then save. 
  5. Alexandria will update all the Zeigler terms in your Homeroom fields to Ziegler. Phew!
Which fields are Authority Controlled?

Everything you see in Authority Control. Some real handy ones besides Homeroom are:

  • Series. Clean up your series so books show up right!
  • Titles > Genre. Make the genre selection in Search and Browse much clearer!
  • Names > Authors. Modify all JRR Tolkien entries to J.R.R. Tolkien, so those books show up under the same author.
  • Medium. So that your patrons don't have to wonder why there is Book and book and BOOK-unmediated and etc. 

Spring cleaning—Weeding old items

Tip for March 4, 2019

It's time to clean up the shelves. How do you identify items for the chopping block? You can use the Weeding List report to find, say, items more than 10 years old that haven't been used in the last 10 years.


Weeding List Report


Running a Weeding List

  1. In Reports, go to the Copies category.
  2. Scroll to the bottom and select the Weeding List report.
  3. In the following fields, enter a date range to search for items that haven't been used during that period. For example, you can search from the far past (01/01/1900) to the less-far past of maybe 10 years ago (03/03/2009).
    1. v7 Copies last used between and Copies published between
    2. v6 Copy Last Used Date and Publication Year
  4. Do you have items of certain policies that are never checked out? Be sure to exclude those items.
  5. Go to Options and choose how to sort your results. Copy Call Number is set by default. 
  6. Run the report and download the PDF from Operations Management. 

Or weed by....

No usage

Look for items that have never been checked out. Enter 0 through 0 in the following fields:

  • v7 Copies with Life to Date Usage of
  • v6 Copy LTD Usage

Little usage

Look for items that have been checked out fewer than 10 times. Enter 0 through 10 in the following fields:

  • v7 Copies with Life to Date Usage of, enter 0 through 10. In the Options tab, choose to sort by LTD usage.
  • v6 Copy LTD Usage

Copies in poor condition

Enter your lowest condition, like Used, Beat Up, Dead, etc.

  • v7 Copies with a Condition of
  • v6 Copy Condition

How often do you weed? How do you do it? What criteria do you use? Do you have any tips for new librarians? Leave a comment!