Blog

September 21st, 2020

As Miss Honey checks in a copy of The Hunger Games, an in-stock hold notification pops up for Darla Anderson. And it just so happens that Darla's in the class currently visiting the library. What's the fastest way for Miss Honey to immediately check out this book to Darla so she can just hand it to her?


There are a couple ways to quickly check out a returned book to the next person waiting for it. When you check in the book and it becomes the Current Item, either...

  • Go to the Holds tab > Item subtab. The patron with the in-stock hold should be at the top of the list. Double-click and they'll become the Current Patron.

Or...

  • Open the Copy List by clicking Copy List in the Current Item pane or by using the Q= shortcut. If the list isn’t long, you should be able to quickly spot the patron with the in-stock hold. Click on their name to make them the Current Patron.

With the item and new patron current, then—while in Check Out mode—you can use the = shortcut to check the book right out to them.

And there you have it! Using these shortcuts will save you time and sanity.

These options are only available in v7. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

September 14th, 2020

You told us, and we listened! With your feedback, we updated Patron Details to be more efficient and helpful than ever before. Have you given it a try yet?


Along with the reorganization, we've made Patron Details interactive! Say you want to renew an item or forgive a charge for the patron whose Details you're viewing. Simply click on that section's heading (i.e. "Items Out" or "Charge Summary") to be taken to the right place in Circulation. You can also click on a title to make it the Current Item.

Take a look at the When are my books due?—Send Patron Details to everyone tip to learn how to use the Send Patron Details Email report.

We'd again like to thank all of those who took our survey on Patron Details. Your insights were integral to its redesign! If you'd like to regularly give feedback on what's coming next in Alexandria, consider joining our User Research Group.

The new and improved Patron Details is only available on v7. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

Customize your notices!

September 8th, 2020

Miss Honey has a new procedure for picking up holds, but patrons keep forgetting to only come during certain hours. How can she remind patrons of the new pickup hours each time they have holds ready? Well, with Alexandria, she can customize the text of her automatic in-stock hold notices!


While Alexandria comes with default text for various notices, we realize you may need to change the text to suit the needs of the moment. You can change the text for the following notices:

  • Circulation Letter
  • In-Stock Hold
  • Recall (v6 only)
  • Reservation Notice
  • Overdue Suspension Notice
  • Patron Suspension Notice
  • Account Access Information
  • Email Signature
  • Circulation Notice
  • Circulation Notice Email Subject
  • Refund Letter
  • Damage Letter
  • Subscription Claim Letter

See our pages on Circulation Preferences > Letters (v7 | v6) for more information on what these are used for and the defaults.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Whether you use v7 or v6, here's how you can edit the text of a notice:

  1. Go to Preferences > Circulation.
  2. Click on the Letters tab.
  3. Select the letter you wish to edit.
  4. Edit the text.
  5. Click Save in the upper right-hand corner.

You can also customize notice text when you set up email notices in Reports.

See last week's tip for information on setting up email notices!

Read 5 Library Notices to Lighten Things Up for some creative notice text ideas.


And voilà! Now your patrons will be in the know on what's happening at your library.

August 31st, 2020

Is your library now running remotely? If so, you'll probably need to set up some email notices. Overdue items, unpaid charges, coming due items... Learn how to schedule notices for all of these with Alexandria!

With email notices, you'll be able to easily give patrons important information without needing to see them or individually email everyone.

Version 7

Make your life easier by saving and scheduling frequently used email notices. Doing so makes them automatically go out, allowing you to not give notices a second thought!

Which notice reports should you set up? Here are a few we recommend:

Check out our full list of Circulation Notices Reports for more.

In order for Alexandria to send out emails, you'll need to configure your Email Settings in Administration and have an email listed in your Site Record.

Version 6

You can also save and schedule email notices in v6.

Here are some email notices you may want to schedule:


And there you go. Get those notices scheduled and enjoy the freedom!

Refresher—Checking in items

August 24th, 2020

Has it been a while since you've ventured into Alexandria? If so, you might need to brush up on some things... but no worries! Here's a quick refresher on checking in items.

Checking in items from Circulation is easy peasy! 

You'll have to use Bookdrop mode (B). "Bookdrop" is another word for "check in," and you'll find it's sometimes used in Alexandria and our documentation. Once you enter B into the command line to start Bookdrop mode, you can continuously scan or type barcodes to check in items. 

If your library is focusing a lot on holds, we suggest you don't use Inventory Bookdrop Suppressed mode. This disables notifications that let you know if an item being checked in has a hold on it.

There are a few preferences related to check-ins you'll want to review:

Want to quickly review a few other essentials? Take a look at our Alexandria Refresher!

Before you go...

We want to hear from you! Which tools and resources—both within and outside of Alexandria—have you been using to get your library through the pandemic? Let us know in our survey.

August 17th, 2020

Miss Honey's school library has started remote holds and checkouts, which means using Search a lot more than before. While Search is powerful and flexible, sometimes it's a little tricky to find what you're looking for... Are there any tips for using it effectively? Is there anything she, as a librarian, can do to make things easier to find? Yes and yes!



Check out our new How Search Works article for tips on using Search and tools librarians can use to help out. Psst... there's even a free printable you can send your patrons. Happy searching!

The new article is primarily for those using v7's Search. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

August 10th, 2020

Another year has gone by, and school is starting back up soon. Although this year presents unique challenges, we've got you covered with more resources in addition to our usual beginning-of-year procedures!

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. A while ago, 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)! 


Additional Resources

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!


August 3rd, 2020

The beginning of this school year is a bit different than usual, but you've got this! We've compiled some additional beginning-of-year tips to help you get your library running again. These will be especially useful if your school had to close or change procedures suddenly.

Overdue Items

Schools that didn't have an option to gather books before closing will have a lot of overdues. If this applies to you, there are a few things you can do to take care of this:

You also have the option of just waiting for patrons to return the items without doing anything else.

Charges

Run the Forgive Charges utility (v7 | v6) to prevent your patrons from being charged for books they had no way of returning. 

Notices

Once you've adjusted due dates, send out a Coming Due Items Notice report to let patrons know their items aren't overdue but do need to be returned soon. If you chose to leave items as overdue, also send out an Overdue Items Notice report (v7 | v6).

Emails

If you turned off your Alexandria emails, you'll need to turn them back on. This involves a few things:

  1. Check Admin > Email (v7 | v6) to ensure the server settings are still correct.
  2. Go through your saved reports (v7 | v6) and reschedule ones that are still needed.
  3. Go to Preferences > Circulation > Circulation Settings and turn on Enable Automatic Email Notifications (v7 | v6).
Preferences

Ideally, you’ll have time to check your preferences settings every year, but this year in particular the way your patrons check books out may have changed. Remember to set up your calendars to reflect closed and period due days (v7 | v6). Next, you'll need to verify that your policies and a few other preferences are set up to properly coincide with your new checkout strategy. Take a look at Remote Checkouts for more information.


Don't forget to also go through the steps in our Beginning-of-Year Procedures (v7 | v6). As always, Customer Support is available at any time to help with getting your library running again! Call or email them at 1-800-347-4942 / support@goalexandria.com. Please be patient as we're working with limited staff this year.

July 27th, 2020

As COVID-19 continues impacting communities, many libraries are changing their checkout procedures to limit physical contact. If you've been wondering how to do remote or hands-free checkouts with Alexandria, wonder no further! We have a new Remote Checkouts article with all the information and resources you'll need to change your checkout process.

What does it cover? Preferences you'll need to alter, reports and notices you can use, using Self-Service for hands-free checkouts, how to check out textbooks, and more. (Psst... also take a look at our free How to Place a Hold in Researcher sheet that can be emailed to or printed for your patrons.)

As always, our 24/7 Customer Support is here to help at 1-800-347-4942 or support@goalexandria.com as you get ready for the new school year. Please be patient as we're working with limited staff this year.



The new article and sheet will be most helpful to v7 users. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

July 13th, 2020

At the end of every year, Miss Honey needs to see which kinds of books were most popular with each type of student in her system: elementary kids, middle schoolers, and high schoolers. These statistics help her decide which new books to order and justify the cost for administrators. Alexandria has a report that can give her this information, but she also needs to set up her patrons and items the right way to gather those statistics. How? Easy... policies.


As you prepare your library for another year, consider which statistics you'll need at the end of next year. This will help you decide how to set up your patron and item policies now. In Miss Honey's case, she should have at least three patron policies (Elementary, Middle, High) and multiple item policies for various genres (Fiction, Fantasy, Biography, etc). However, your policies may need to be different.

Check out these resources to help you make these decisions and set up your policies:

  • Why You Need Policies (v7 | v6). Read more about why policies should be an important consideration when setting up your library. Seriously. They will make your life so much easier!
  • Patron Policies (v7 | v6). Learn how to add and modify patron policies along with what all of the options mean.
    • Change Patron Policy utility (v7 | v6). Use a utility to change multiple patrons' policies at once.
  • Item Policies (v7 | v6). Find out what all of the options mean and get step-by-step instructions on adding and modifying item policies.
    • Change Title Policy utility (v7). Use a utility to change multiple titles' policies at once.
    • Change Copy Policy utility (v7 | v6). Use a utility to change multiple copies' policies at once.

And there you have it! Now you'll be able to get the statistics you need.

eBooks—All the resources

June 8th, 2020

With the increasing popularity and need for eBooks, we're popping in with a quick summer tip on how to use them with Alexandria. If you've been wondering how they're imported, how to add the cover art, what they look like in Researcher, and more, don't worry—we've got the answers.


Here are some several recently updated eBook resources for you:

  • Cataloging eBooks: Learn how to add eBooks through Items Management and get information on some optional strategies, such as adding eReader groups as a subject heading.
  • Import eBooks: Get step-by-step instructions for importing eBook files.
  • New Capstone titles?—Hooray!: Get access to 24 free eBooks from Capstone.

Happy eBook catalog-ing!


Before you go...

Have you heard that Alexandria and Textbook Tracker are getting a makeover? It's true! In addition to a new, modern look, we will be adding responsive design and some exciting features. Sign up to receive special Makeover announcement emails and beta access.

Also, we invite you to apply for our very first User Research Group. Essentially, we're looking for librarians willing to be our "first users" and give us feedback on big changes we're making to our systems. Sound interesting? Fill out an application today!


Still on version 6? Check out the Ebooks section of the v6 Support Center, and learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

Help us help you!—Page ratings

May 18th, 2020

If you've poked around the Support Center recently, you may have noticed our new page rating system. Yep, that's right! Now you can rate pages to let us know whether or not they were helpful. Your feedback will help our team understand what's working well and identify areas for improvement.


Did a page answer your question? Great! Give it a good rating to tell us it was helpful. On the other hand, if a page didn't answer your question or was difficult to understand, let us know with a lower rating.

Rate a page

To rate a Support Center page, find the rating block on the left-hand side of the page. Under Your Rating, click on the amount of stars you'd like to give that page. Then, your rating will be added to the Results, which shows the average rating in addition to the total.

Give us more details

After rating a page, you also have the option to give us more details by clicking Tell us what we can improve. This short survey will let you elaborate on your rating and—optionally—leave your email so we can follow up if needed (don't worry—your email will be kept private). We appreciate the feedback!


Despite the unusual end to this school year, we hope you have a wonderful and safe summer! Consider bookmarking our Beginning-of-Year Procedures so they're at the tip of your fingers when you need to start getting ready for fall.


May 11th, 2020

Alexandria Researcher has a lot of capabilities and interfaces that together create a powerful library experience for your patrons. While learning how to use these tools may feel overwhelming at first, it's a piece of cake with the right resources... A little while ago, we released some Researcher training videos for patrons. Now we have the same thing for librarians!

Researcher Overview (1:05)

Whether you need to train new librarians over the summer or help those returning brush up on their skills, these short videos are an awesome resource.

You can view them in two places:

  1. Check out the Alexandria University: Researcher playlist on our YouTube channel.
  2. Head to our Video Directory and look through the Researcher for Librarians section on the Alexandria University tab.

Watch the videos together in a group training or individually. Either way, we hope they bolster your confidence in using and optimizing Researcher for your library!


These videos are for version 7 users. Still on version 6? Learn about switching! 

New Capstone titles?—Hooray!

May 4th, 2020

Yep, that's right. We have some new ebook titles for you! We're proud to partner with Capstone, whose ebooks provide encouragement for all readers through useful tools like text highlighting, audio support, customizable book lists, and more.



Get 24 free ebooks by downloading the MARC file and cover art and importing them into your Alexandria collection.

If you already have a Capstone account and want these books added, contact Capstone at 800-747-4992 to avoid any authentication issues.


Did you add the last set of free Capstone Interactive ebooks to your collection? You may have noticed some of those titles went out of print last year, so you'll probably want to remove them from your collection. Be assured this usually doesn't happen—if you purchase Capstone books, they will be maintained! In Alexandria, you can either remove individual titles in Items Management or use the Remove Titles utility to remove more than one at once.


April 27th, 2020

You're almost there! The last step of our End-of-Year Procedures is creating a secure backup of your Alexandria data. Backups bring peace of mind and provide a way for your library to recover lost data when human errors, hardware malfunctions, and other unexpected events strike.


Version 7 and Version 6

Check out Back Up Your Data for information on backup strategies and instructions. Remember that backups, unlike archives, are saved to an external source and preferably moved to a secure location.

Only Self-Hosted users need to back up their data. If you're Cloud-Hosted, COMPanion does it for you! Learn more about the benefits of going Cloud-Hosted.

Before you go...

Is your library closing early or going remote? Check out our new Unexpected School Closures article and video for tips on making this transition. And feel free to contact our 24/7 Support team at 1-800-347-4942 or support@goalexandria.com if you need additional help or have questions. We wish you the best and hope you stay safe!

Also, take our new survey and let us know which Alexandria resources have helped you prepare for library changes due to COVID-19.