May 23rd, 2022
For those libraries closing up for the summer, we hope you have a great break with lots of time to relax and catch up on your reading. Let's keep in touch!
Stay in the loop
While our Tip of the Week emails go on break during the summer, we're still working hard to make Alexandria great. Sign up for any or all of our ongoing email/social media groups.
Subscribe to our newsletter for seasonal posters, book reviews, activity ideas, and more.
Sign up for emails about upcoming releases, updates, and more.
Apply to join a group of Alexandria users who give feedback on future features and projects.
Join our Facebook Users Group to discuss all things Alexandria with other librarians.
Follow @COMPanionStatus on Twitter for hosting updates on Alexandria, Textbook Tracker, and KeepnTrack.
May 16th, 2022
The end of the school year is almost here! What else can you do in Alexandria to get ready for the break?
We have all the info you need for your end-of-year procedures to make sure you're library is all set for the break. We recommend reading through each tab in order. You can download and print this End-of-Year Procedures sheet as a helpful reminder!
Backing Up Data
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 to Cloud Hosted.
The final step before closing your library for the summer is to create a complete backup of your Alexandria Data folder.
For self-hosted libraries, 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. Unlike an archive, backups are considered a "last resort" in case everything else fails.
Read Back Up Your Data to learn more.
In case you missed them...
Here's our collection of 2022 End-of-Year Tips
Remember, you can contact our 24/7 Support team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help or have any questions!
May 9th, 2022
We have another tip for you to help you prep your library for summer break. The bulk of patron management work typically occurs at the beginning of the school year, but here's a few things you can do now to get a head start!
When it's time to update your patron records, review our Patron Imports Best Practices for info on importing, updating policies, and removing other patrons. If you don't update until the beginning of the year, consider setting yourself a reminder.
If you don't save old records in your system, here's how you can remove graduated students.
- Go to Tools > Utilities.
- Select the Patrons > General category.
- Choose the Remove Patrons utility on the right.
- On the Selections tab, enter the criteria needed to select the individual patrons or groups of patrons you want to remove. Make sure the correct status is selected (like Active or Transferred, or choose Any to include them all). Then, depending on your method for tracking graduated patrons, you can use two different selections:
- On the Options tab, choose if you want the patrons to be removed even if they have items checked out, or outstanding charges, and click Run.
Need help with patron management, or anything else in Alexandria? Reach out to our stellar support team at email@example.com for assistance.
May 5, 2022
As you get close to wrapping up the year's inventory, it is time to begin identifying lost and discarded copies and removing them from your system.
Identify Lost and Discarded Copies
- Run the Loaned Items Information report to see which items and materials are still in circulation.
- If items are still checked out after they should have been returned, run the Declare Missing Copies Lost utility. If an item is returned after this utility is run, its status will be changed to Available and any patron charges can be removed and/or their accounts credited.
Remove Lost and Discarded Copies
Then run the Remove Lost Copies utility:
- Go to Tools > Utilities.
- Select the Copies category and select Remove Lost Copies.
- In the Selections tab, enter your selection criteria, or leave the default settings. The utility defaults are set to remove all lost copies, but you can narrow your focus.
- You can select a period before your last inventory date, so that any items that were recently declared lost or discarded will remain in the system, giving them an opportunity to be returned.
- If you need to be more specific, check the Show Additional Selections box to choose copies by individual barcodes.
4. Run the utility.
If you need help with lost or discarded items, or anything else in Alexandria, don't hesitate to reach out to our support staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 25, 2022
Does your library close up for the summer? You'll want to make sure email notifications are turned off, so your patrons don't keep getting messages all summer.
Automatic Email Notifications
To turn off automatic email notifications, go to the Circulation Settings tab in Circulation Preferences and uncheck Enable Automatic Email Notifications. Make yourself a reminder to turn this back on once school resumes!
Scheduled Email Notifications
If you have saved reports, you'll also need to follow these steps:
- Check for saved reports by going to Tools > Reports. Make sure you have the All Reports category selected before clicking on the Saved tab.
- If you only need to check email notices to patrons, then click on the Notices subcategory within the Circulation category instead.
- Scheduled reports will have a calendar icon to the right of the saved report's name. Check the Options tab for each one.
- Unlock the reports page.
- For every report with an "email" format selected on the Options tab, switch to the Schedule tab and uncheck Schedule Report. Save and continue down the list.
If you need help with turning off email notifications, or anything else in Alexandria, don't hesitate to reach out to our support staff at email@example.com.
April 18th, 2022
The end of the school year is ticking closer every day–make sure your library is prepared by setting your library's Period Due Date and Hard Due Date. Alexandria makes it easy!
A Period Due Date is the date by which all items should be returned to the library. The circulation period before this date will be shortened so things are returned on time. If your due dates for the end of the year are already set, consider setting them for the following year while you're there.
- Go to Preferences > Calendars.
- Select a calendar from the list on the left.
- Choose the date by which items should be returned, then click twice to set it as Period Due.
- Repeat step 3 for each calendar.
A Hard Due Date is a special date assigned to some item policies. It overrides all other due dates, including Period Due Dates, and allows items to be checked out for an extended period of time.
- Go to Preferences > Policies.
- Choose an Item Policy from the drop-down menu.
- In the Check Out subtab, update or remove the Hard Due Date.
End-of-Year Procedures has more information on everything you need to end the year as stress-free as possible. You can also review the Calendar Preferences page, and watch our End of Year Procedures Workshop. Have Seniors graduating? Check out Seniors and Calendars for more information.
If you need help with calendars, policies, or anything else in Alexandria, don't hesitate to reach out to our support staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 11th, 2022
It's April–flowers are blooming, and the end of the school year is right around the corner! We compiled a list of resources for you, to help with your end-of-year inventory.
What do you have in your collection? Do you need to re-order anything? Which items are damaged and need to be discarded? We can help! And the best part? You can continue your regular circulation during inventory–each time a book is checked out or book-dropped, its inventory date is updated.
End-of-Year Procedures Inventory - An overview of inventory, and what it entails.
Inventory Workshop - An informative presentation about inventory from our certified trainers.
Let's weed—Pulling discards during Inventory - A tip for help with inventory weeding.
Mobile inventory—Offline Mode - Use Offline Mode on a mobile device to inventory items where the scanner can't reach.
If you need help with inventory, or anything else in Alexandria, don't hesitate to reach out to our support staff at email@example.com.
April 4th, 2022
Miss Honey's library has made a push the last two months to teach students how to use Alexandria Researcher–but how can she tell if it worked? The Researcher Monthly Usage report compiles data on how often students are using researcher, and which modules they are accessing. You can use the Researcher Monthly Usage report, too, and get the data for your library!
Running the report
- Go to Tools > Reports > Statistics/Usage > Researcher Monthly Usage
- Enter a date range. Since this is a new report, the data is limited to interactions after June 2021.
- Click Run.
- Use Operations Management (click the wrench icon in the top right) to retrieve the report.
Here is an example of the report data.
Want to know more about how your students interact with your library? Try GG4L Engagement+.
March 28 2022
Ms. Honey has been re-working her system of item and patron policies to best serve the new demands on her library, but now it's time to assign the right policies to the right patrons/items. How can she perform this task with accuracy and efficiency? We'll tell you how.
There are several different methods you can use to assign patron policies.
Method 1: Utility
The Change Patron Policy utility works great if you have a way to group the patrons together, such as by grade or a grade range. Check out Are your Utilities running?—Take the right steps for more info on running utilities.
Go to Tools > Utilities and select the Change Patron Policy utility on the right.
In the Selections tab, enter the criteria needed to select the patrons you want to update.
Patrons with a Status of: Limit the operations to one particular status, like Active, or choose Any to include them all.
Patrons in Grade: Enter the user-defined value for the grade(s) you need to change. Check Tools > Authority Control > Grade to ensure there are no stray grade numbering patterns and be sure to use the exact value you see there. Example: 01 is not the same as 1. When selecting a range of grades, you may also want to check the Preferences > Patrons > Grade Table to ensure your grades are sorted in the correct order.
3. In the Options tab, choose the policy that will be assigned to the selected patrons.
4. Run the utility.
Method 2: Circulation Command
You can also assign patron policies by using the Circulation Command Change Patron Policies.
This is a good method if you have patrons come in as groups, and you either don't have them grouped in Alexandria, or you don't feel comfortable using Utilities.
From Circulation, enter the two-letter "UP" command and hit <enter>.
Select the Policy you are assigning to the patrons.
Scan or enter the patron barcodes into the command line.
When done, use the "." command and hit <enter> to exit the mode.
Hot tip! If you want to change the policy for an entire homeroom in Circulation, go through steps 1 & 2, then open the homeroom tab to the correct homeroom and just double click each patron down the list.
Method 3: Import File
Make your import do twice the work by using the Policy dropdown to assign everyone in the file to the same policy when you're running an import.
You can also use a tab-delimited export file in your favorite spreadsheet program to change the set policy shortcodes. Find the shortcodes you need by going to Preferences > Policies and selecting the policy you need from the drop down. Be careful to limit your changes to the policy column and import your changes when you're done.
Method 4: Manual Changes
This method can be time consuming, because you modify the records one patron at a time.
Go to Patron Management and find the patron record you want to modify.
Unlock the record .
Use the Policy dropdown to select the new policy.
Method 1: Utility
You can use the Change Title Policy utility (if your policies are the same across all sites) or the Change Copy Policy utility (if your policies differ by site). Check out Are your Utilities running?—Take the right steps for more info on running utilities.
These utilities work great if you have your items in a call number range (e.g. the fiction policy can be selected by FIC AAA- FIC ZZZ).
Go to Tools > Utilities > Titles > General > Change Title Policy.
On the Selections tab, use the field Title in call number range (this will need to match the actual call numbers you are using).
On the Options tab, select Change Policy To menu and select Fiction (or whichever you are changing).
Run the utility.
Method 2: Circulation Command
You can also assign item policies by using the Circulation Command Change Item Policy.
- From Circulation, enter the "UI" command and hit <enter>.
- Select the policy that you're changing the items to.
- Scan the barcodes of the items you're modifying.
- When done, use the "." command and hit <enter> to exit the mode.
Method 3: Import File
- When running the item import, go to Options > Title and/or Copy subtab, and use the Policy dropdown to assign all items in the file to the same policy. This works great if you have one import file per policy you are assigning.
- You can also use a tab-delimited export file in your favorite spreadsheet program to change the set policy shortcodes. Find the shortcodes you need by going to Preferences > Policies and selecting the policy you need from the drop down. Be careful to limit your changes to the policy column and import your changes when you're done.
- Or, you can use Policy Mapping.
Method 4: Manual Changes
Modifying records one item at a time is awfully time-consuming. (Are you sure you want to do that?)
Go to Item Management and find the item record you're modifying.
Unlock the record.
Use the Policy dropdown to select the new policy (there are both Title and Copy Policy drop-downs)
Changes made to existing policies are only applied from that point forward. If you want the updated policies to apply to existing checked out items, go to Tools > Utilities > Circulation > Recompute Due Dates and run.
March 21 2022
Overdue and lost books are always going to be a part of running a library–especially when there are students involved. You can set a policy to automate when an overdue item becomes lost, without having to manually check the item out to Lost. Here's how!
March 14, 2022
Miss Honey decided that some of the younger grades need different rules and settings than some of the older grades–like how many items they can check out at once.
She can use Patron Policies to set up preferences for different groups of students, and so can you!
Creating a new patron policy
- Go to Preferences > Policies
- Click Add at the bottom of the Patron Policy column
- Give it a name – ex: Lower grades, 1st-3rd etc.
- Add a shortcode (shortcodes are between 1-4 characters and are usually an abbreviation of the name, ex: 1-3 or LWGD)
- Leave the Statistics Group as Current Policy
- Click Add
Once your new patron policy is created, go to each of the tabs (Checkout, Overdue, and Other) and set up the rules for that group of patrons. Then click in the top right corner. Use these same steps to create any additional policies for other grades.
March 7, 2022
Darla returned an overdue book, and Miss Honey saw that her fines had climbed to $30.00–more than it even costs to replace the book! She decided it was time to set up a maximum fine for overdue items.
Here's how to set a Patron Policy in Alexandria that puts a cap on overdue fines.
Setting a Maximum Fine Patron Policy
- Go to Preferences > Policies
- Select the Patron Policy you want to edit
- Go to the Overdue tab
- Using the drop-down, select Maximum Fine for an Overdue Item
- Enter the amount you want to set as the cap
- Click Save
Repeat this process for any other Patron Policies you want to have a maximum fine set, and make sure the patron policy is assigned to any patrons you want this fine cap to apply to.
The maximum fine is per item, so if the patron has more than one overdue item, they can be charged up to the maximum fine for each item. If the item is marked as lost, the patron will be charged the replacement cost.
Questions on Patron Policies or fines? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for further assistance.
February 28 2022
A student brings a book up to the counter to check out. When Miss Honey scans their student ID, an item comes up in Alexandria, instead of the patron. What? How did that happen? Well, if a patron and an item have the same barcode number, Alexandria defaults to the item. Has this ever happened to you?
While we recommend avoiding overlapping barcodes for patrons and items to prevent mistaken identity, the situation may still come up. Here's what to do if it does:
- You can re-barcode the item. This is what we recommend, whenever possible.
- Change the barcode in Items Management, and don't forget to print the new label.
- Want to set a reminder to do it later? Use the shortcut !! followed by a message to re-barcode the copy which will pop up as an alert when the copy is bookdropped. Example: !! re-barcode this copy
- For a quick fix, type a P before the patron barcode in circulation
- For example, P 31665. This ensures the system sees it as a patron barcode.
- You can also modify the patron barcode in Patron Management to include a P.
- If you have a binder of barcodes grouped by homeroom to easily scan patrons when their class is in the library, you can add a P to the binder barcodes, which will then prioritize patrons.
- Tools > Reports > Patrons > Labels > Patron Barcode Labels. On the Options tab, check Add 'P' to Barcode.
If you are printing off patron labels, instead of going one homeroom at a time, leave the selections alone, and under Options, choose to sort by Homeroom and check "Page Break on Major Sort" to print all the homerooms at once!
February 22 2022
The new librarian working for Miss Honey confessed that she's nervous about running Utilities in Alexandria. We get it—they can be a little intimidating at first! But with our best practices guide, you can get your Utilities running. The two most important things to remember about Utilities are planning ahead and taking precautions.
Before running the Utility:
- Make a plan. What are you trying to do? Use Alexandria to figure out which utility is best for the job.
- Review the descriptions at the top of each selections tab that explains what the utility is used for.
- Select the option in the upper right corner of Alexandria to see additional information on the Support Center about that specific utility.
- Check out the Complete Utilities List.
- If you're still not sure, feel free contact our support team for help!
- Run a report to check your selections.
- Some utilities have comparable information reports, which will show exactly what is going to be modified. The selections on the report will work the same way as the utility. For example, if you are using the Change Patron Policy utility to match the policies to grades, then you would want to first run the Patrons Information Report by the specific grades to see which patrons will be modified.
- Timing is very important!
- Make sure to run your utilities at a time when you can manage any issues that may come up.
- It is best not to make big changes during the middle of the day. If you think you need an archive before running a specific utility, we recommend waiting to the end of day to run it.
- If you host your own data, run an archive.
Running the Utility:
- Make sure the selections are correct. If you ran an information report before, use the same selections, then select Run.
- PAY ATTENTION TO THE POPUP—this tells you about how many records will be modified (rounded up to the nearest hundred).
- If the number looks wrong, you can hit NO and rerun the report to check.
After the Utility:
- Review the utility report.
- ALWAYS review the summary file after running your utility to ensure the utility did what you wanted it to do.
- The summary file is in Operations Management, which you can access by clicking on the in the top bar.
- If there were issues with your utility, we recommend taking care of it ASAP. With the right precautions, you can use the archive you created to restore to before you ran the utility.
As always, if you need help with Utilities, or anything else in Alexandria, you can contact our stellar support team at email@example.com, or call 1-800-347-4942.
Operations Management is where all pending operations (i.e. reports, utilities, imports, or exports) are ordered and sorted. In Operations Management, you can track progress of current operations, or view summaries, open, email, and save operations that you have previously completed.
February 14 2022
Since we can't send you flowers or chocolates, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite past tips, as a little Valentine to you!
We selected tips based on your survey responses on topics you'd like to learn more about.
- Helpful reports—Have you given them a try?
- Get your books back!—Scheduling overdue notices
- Unused Barcodes: Reporting for Duty
- Worth a thousand words—Getting Cover Art in Alexandria
- End-of-year prep—Inventory
- My data!—All about archives
- Fee, Fine, Foe, Um?—All About Charges
- Feeling lost?–Handling lost and discarded items
- Remote checkouts—all the resources