What can you recommend for me?

Tip for February 19, 2019

Last week, Darla asked if you could recommend books to read over spring break. Yesterday, Anton asked you what he should read now that he's finished all the Warriors books (yay!). You love answering these kinds of questions, but how do you recommend items to patrons who are looking through the online catalog at home? Do you have a list set up for the "Top 10 Must Read" books in your library?

Researcher Saved List


Create a List

  1. Log in to Search. 

  2. Create a new Saved list. 
    • v7 Go to My Lists and choose Create Saved List
    • v6 Next to Lists on the left, tap +

  3. Give the list a descriptive name, like "Top 10 Must Read" or "Spring Break Favorites". 
    • v7 Change Sharing to Public.

  4. Share it! 
    • v7 Click the Share icon and copy the URL, so you can send it to your patrons or link to it with an Explore button.
    • v6 Your list cannot be made public, but you can print it to distribute in the library. You can also link an Explore button to a PDF version of your list.

Find Items for the List

How do you decide what's a "Must Read" item anyway? You could try using the Top Circulated report. It shows call number, title, author, number of copies, and number of checkouts for the top circulated items in your library.

  1. In Reports, go to Titles > Usage and select the report to the right. 
    1. v7 Top Circulated Titles
    2. v6 Top Circulated Items

  2. If you want to include a particular kind of item, select by Policy or Medium.

  3. Pick how many titles you want to see. The report will sort by top usage, so you could run it for 60 items and still only take the top 10. 
    1. v7 Options tab > Number of Titles to Include
    2. v6 Number of Titles

  4. Narrow it down to a time frame (required), perhaps within the last year. 
    1. v7 Usage Starting In and Ending In
    2. v6 Starting Month and Ending Month

  5. Run the report.


Some librarians keep bestsellers or current "hot" items under a different policy so they can limit checkout times for popular items that are frequently on hold. If this describes you, run the Top Circulated report and select by that policy. Or maybe you want to promote some unloved books. Run a Weeding List report to find some good candidates for recommendations. Perhaps you want to build a list of YA books for 5th graders that were really popular last year. Get creative!


How do you give your patrons recommendations? Comment and tell us about it!

Do it your way—Override Dates

Tip for February 11, 2019 

Darla comes up to the circulation desk with a trilogy of books to check out. Your normal checkout time is 3 weeks, but Darla explains that she's going to visit her grandparents around that time and won't be back when the books are due. "Can I please have them longer?" she asks. How can you turn away such a veracious reader? You can't. Instead, you assist Darla's love of learning by using override dates.

Circulation

The Override Date command can be used

  • in Check Out mode to set a custom due date,
  • in Renewal mode to customize the due date, and 
  • in Inventory mode to set a particular inventory date.

When you set an override date, it shows in the top right of Circulation. In v7, the date will be red. When you're finished using the override, be sure to clear it or you'll mess up the rest of your circulation!

To override due dates:

  1. In the command line, type a period (.) followed by the future date (e.g. 03262019 for March 26, 2019—the date formats follow your Localization settings). 
  2. Tap <enter>. The date will show in the top right of the window and a log entry will be added for setting the override date.
  3. Scan the barcodes for Darla's books. 
  4. Check the Renewals tab to see the special due date for her books.
  5. Clear the override date by entering a period (.) in the command line or by changing modes.
What is that date?—Override

Tip for February 4, 2019

You may have seen a date appear at the top of the Circulation window to the right of the command line. It may be today’s date. It may not be. It could be a date in the past or a date in the future. So… what it is?

Circulation


That is the Override Date. You can enter an Override Date by typing a period (.) and the date, for example to set the date to March 24, 2019, type .3/22/19 or .032219. Voila!

Override dates are mostly useful for setting due dates; in fact, Command Help lists the (.) command as Set Due Date. Here are a few things you can do with it:

  • Type .date patron-barcode (e.g. .032219 1001) to make all of that patron’s items due on that date.
  • Type .date item-barcode (e.g. .032219 130923) to make that item due on that date.

It’s so much faster than pulling up the patron, going to Renewals, and selecting Set Due Date.


When you enter the override date with a barcode, it will only set the override date for that transaction, not for all of Circulation. So to perform Circulation actions for multiple items at a set due date, use .date to set the override date, then perform the checkouts or renewals.

For example, patrons come to you to check out books a week before Spring break. Okay, that’s great, but if they take the books now, they would need them for longer than the normal checkout period so they don't fall due during break. Instead, you could check them out with a special due date of after break. Alternatively, if you don't want them to keep the books over break, you could check them out with a special due date that falls before break.


You can clear override dates by simply typing period (.) <enter> in the command line.

Pull Up That Patron

Tip for January 28, 2019

When you're in Circulation and you need to find a patron fast, use the Lookup command. No, not the Lookup button — that is useful, but the L command will help you find your patron and make them current in fewer steps. 

Patron Lookup


For example...

  1. In the command line, type L anderson <enter> to bring up a list of all patrons with the last name Anderson.
  2. From there you can tab to the list of results, and tap <enter> to open the first result or key through the results and press enter. Viola! Darla is current in Circulation.

That was 2 steps and no clicking. 


As a comparison, if you press Lookup, you have to:

  1. Press Lookup.
  2. Type "anderson".
  3. Select the name.
  4. Then press <enter>.

That's 4 steps with clicking. 


So pull up your patrons the fast way—use the Lookup command.

Custom Slideshow Buttons

Tip for January 22, 2019

You know you can go to /slideshow to view a slideshow of items as determined by your settings in Preferences > Researcher > Slideshow.

You know you can create an Explore button that links to your Slideshow.

But did you now that you're not limited to a single slideshow? You can set up as many custom slideshows as you want, each with a specific URL.

Slideshow


Here's how:

  1. To get your primary Slideshow URL, add /slideshow to the end of your login URL. For example, https://demo.goalexandria.com/slideshow.
  2. Now, let's add a search string. At the end of the Slideshow URL, add ?search=search string. For example, if you want a slideshow with books about space, you'll enter ?search=((smart::space))

    (lightbulb) Search strings can be complicated, but they don't have to be. For an easy way to get a search string, go to Search and perform a search or open the list you want, then click Share and copy the search string. You can paste the whole thing at the end of your Slideshow URL. 

  3. But wait, there's more! You can add the parameters for speed, layout, and transition. 
    • For speed, add &speed=3 for 3-second intervals. 
    • For layout, add &layout=split or &layout=preview.
    • For transition, add &transition=fade or &transition=drawer or any other transitions that you can see in your Slideshow preferences.
  • (lightbulb) Go to your site's Slideshow Preferences and tap View Slideshow. Copy that URL and manipulate the settings in another tab or window to see what works.
  • Here's a breakdown of what your URL could look like:
     


Now you can use that custom Slideshow URL with any Explore button to lead your patrons to your beautiful Slideshow.

Read more about Custom Slideshow URLs in the Support Center.


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

Read Me—View Only Access

Tip for January 14, 2019

Has an administrator or principal asked for access to Alexandria to run reports or view patron data? What if you want to give them access, but you don’t want them to mess anything up?

Easy. It’s all in Security.

Security Preferences

Go to Patron Management and open a patron record, then look at the Security Group underneath their picture. The group to which this patron is assigned dictates what they can and cannot do in Alexandria. Most of your users will be in a Patron group that allows access to Researcher but not Librarian. Others might be student aides or librarians with various security settings.

For an example, let's create a security group that is limited to View, or read-only, access.

  1. Navigate to Tools > Preferences and click on Security
  2. On the left are all the security groups in your system. You can modify an existing group or create a new one. At the bottom, click to add a new group. 
  3. Give the group a name that reminds you of the kind of access it allows and/or the users to whom it should be assigned. For this example, we'll name it Read Only.
  4. Preset the security options to All Off, then click Add.
  5. Go through the settings in each tab and, when necessary, change the settings to View
    Here are a few examples for this scenario:
    • Patron Reports = Reporting tab > Librarian subtab > Patron Reports > View
    • Circulation Reports = Reporting tab > Librarian subtab > Circulation Reports > View
    • Statistics Reports = Reporting tab > Librarian subtab > Statistics Reports > View
    • Patrons = Management tab > Patrons > View

That's it!

Tip for January 7, 2019

You know you can drag and drop image files from your desktop to Item Management to upload covert art. 

You know you can go to the Actions menu to Browse for Item Picture. 

(I hope you know these things.)

But did you know that in version 7 you can also paste cover art directly in Item Management? 


Here's how: 

  1. Select an image on your desktop or on the web, and copy it: Command-C for Mac, Control-C for Windows.
  2. In Item Management, select an item record.
  3. Make sure the record is unlocked.
  4. Click the cover art field. 
  5. Paste the image: Command-V for Mac, Control-V for Windows.
  6. Save your changes.

It’s the little things that make life easier, isn't it? 


On version 6 but want this feature? Learn about switching from v6 to v7! 

Holiday Support—And DIY

Tip for December 10, 2018

We all need some time off, but we need to get work done too. So if you find yourself struggling with Alexandria during the holidays (any holiday), rest assured we are available to help you. 

Give Support a call any time at 1-800-347-4942.

Have you ever struggled with downtime? If you find yourself staring listlessly at the lack of books to shelve, you could instead take advantage of our other support resources to improve your Alexandria skills.

And you can always amuse yourself by going through all the Circulation Commands and trying each one out. Use this handy list of Circulation Commands to check everything off!

Don’t want to do that with your own data? Are you sure? Well, ok—try it on the demo: demo.goalexandria.com

v6 users—Have you thought about switching to v7 over the summer? Learn more about the switch.

v7 users—Are you ever curious about this ‘v6’ we mention? Alexandria v7 was released in summer 2014. Before that was… v6demo.goalexandria.com


Happy holidays!


As you like it—Import Headings

Tip for December 3, 2018

A few weeks ago, we looked at importing files from vendors—mostly MARC and MicroLIF. Tab-delimited records are a bit different because they always require some sort of field mapping, which is a way to match the columns in your import file with fields in Alexandria. 

No one wants to set up Field Mapping in every import, so here are two ways to simplify the process: 

  1. Create a saved import with your field mapping settings.
  2. Use Alexandria headers in your import file.


Saved Imports

The first method is pretty straightforward:

  • In v7: In a new import, set up your field mapping then click Create Saved Import to save your settings for next time. Be sure to name the import descriptively! (e.g. Johnson New Copies Only) 
  • In v6: You can only save Field Mapping for imports coming from an FTP source. In Imports, use the Advanced tab.

Alexandria Headers

The second method may be a new one for you and requires editing your import file to add a header, which will allow Alexandria to automatically sort and organize the information into the correct, specified fields. 

At the top of the file, add header codes in this format:

###*FileCode/FieldCode/FieldCode/FieldCode/


For patrons, it might look like this:

###*PT01/1000/1007/1006/ <return>

1100000 <tab> Bill <tab> Smith <return>

1100001 <tab> John <tab> Jones <return>


The item code is FT01. So if I was adding titles/copies it might look like this:

###*FT01/2000/2020/2023/2245/ <return>

123456 <tab> 0439023483 <tab>  WHS <tab> Hunger Games <return>

123457 <tab> 9780439023511 <tab> WHS <tab> Mockingjay <return>


The easiest way to get headers is to run a tab-delimited export of all the fields you will be importing—then you can copy the header from that file! But if you need to do it manually, you can find lists of Alexandria header codes in our Support Center.

There for you—State Reports

Tip for 11.26.18

Did you know that Alexandria provides several state reports for your convenience? It's true! 

Collection Analysis Reports


Running state reports in v7

For librarians from Houston and Missouri, those annual reports are easy because Alexandria has done the work for you! For librarians from other states, you may find one of the other reports will work well for your own needs.

  1. From Tools, open Reports.
  2. Choose the Collection Analysis category.

Houston

  1. Select the Houston Super Summary report.
  2. Go to the Options tab.
  3. Enter Financial Year information or an Inventory Start Date to narrow down what's included in the report.
  4. Run the report, then go to Operations Management to view it.


Houston Super Summary Report


Missouri

  1. Select the Missouri Super Summary report.
  2. In the Options tab, select the appropriate Format
    1. If you have some unusual call number prefixes, use the appropriate Ignore Super Summary Call Numbers report format. This will provide a breakdown by call number for those areas instead of lumping them together in a category called Other.
  3. Enter Financial Year information or an Inventory Start Date to narrow down what's included in the report.
  4. Run the report, then go to Operations Management to view it.

Missouri Super Summary Report



Running state reports in v6

For librarians from Iowa, New York, and Missouri, those annual reports are easy because Alexandria has done the work for you! For librarians from other states, you may find the Iowa report will work well for your own needs.

  1. Go to Tools on the menu bar and select Reports.
  2. Click on the Copies tab and on the Collection Analysis subtab.

New York

  1. Select State Reports.
  2. Select NY BEDS from the Format drop-down window.
  3. Fill in the Accession End Date.
  4. Click Print.

Iowa

  1. Select State Reports.
  2. Select Iowa from the Format drop-down window.
  3. Fill in the Accession End Date.
  4. Click Print

Missouri

  1. Select Super Summary.

  2. Select the appropriate format from the Format drop-down window. (Missouri Elementary and Missouri Secondary are based upon the 2008 criteria given for the report.)

    1. If you have some unusual call number prefixes, use the appropriate Ignore Super Summary Call Numbers report format. This will provide a breakdown by call number for those areas instead of lumping them together in a category called Other.
  3. Fill in the Accession End Date.
  4. Click Print

Tip for 11.19.18

If you're in a school library, the grade table is part of your Patron Preferences. You can customize this table to match the grade levels (or educational years) in your school. 

  1. Go to Tools and open Preferences.
  2. Go to Patrons.
  3. Click on the Grade Table tab.

Grade Table Preferences


Individually enter each grade level relevant to your union in the order they should be sorted and incremented. This is a simple list; the first entry in the Grade Table will be your first grade level, the second will be the next grade level, etc. The Grade and Description entries in the table are fully customizable, allowing you to use whatever terminology you desire. Grades must be advanced manually at the end of each school year by using the Advance All Grades button or the Advance Patron Level utility. Using one of these utilities, you can advance your patrons to the next grade level until they reach the Last Grade level (e.g. Graduated); patrons will never advance past the Last Grade level.


To remove a grade

  1. Highlight the grade. 

  2. On the bottom left, click Remove.

  3. Save your changes.

To add a grade

  1. On the bottom left, click Add.
  2. By default, the new grade will be added to the end of your table. Change the Sort number if you want the grade listed elsewhere in the table.
  3. Enter the grade in the Grade field and a description in the Description field. 
  4. Click Add
  5. When you have added and/or removed all grades needed, click Save.


Remember to reset the Advance After date each year!

Series Cleanup

Tip for 11.12.18

Are your series sorting correctly in Researcher? If not, here are a few fixes you can make to your title records.


Standardize the series name

Search results are sorted first by series name and then by volume number. So if you have Magic Tree House and Magic Tree House Series, all of the Magic Tree House volumes will be listed before the Magic Tree House Series volumes. An easy fix here is to make the series the same for all titles. It's also a good idea to check that the series name is in the Series field. If, for example, it's been added to the Title, Subtitle, or Statement of Responsibility fields, Alexandria won't know how to sort it. 

If you need to change series names in bulk, you can use the Change a MARC Tag (v7) or Modify (v6) utility to change 830_a from, for example, from Magic Tree House Series to Magic Tree House


Standardize the volume field

If you have Magic Tree House vol 1 and Magic Tree House volume 2 and Magic Tree House 3, no matter what you do, "3" will sort before the other two. You can fix this by standardizing the volume field across all of the titles in the series. 

There's a utility for that

In Alexandria version 7, there is a new utility that can help you with the volume field. 

  1. Go to Tools > Utilities.
  2. In the Titles category, select Change Series Volume.
  3. Fill out selection criteria, such as Titles in the Series, to limit the changing titles to a manageable size. 
  4. Under the Options tab, fill in the volume prefix you prefer, such as Vol or #. Or, leave the field blank to have no prefix, which will show up as, for example, “Magic tree house; 001”. 
  5. Run the utility. 
  6. Download the information file from Operations Management to see if any volumes did not update. 

This utility takes the Series 830_v tag and gets rid of everything but the number, converts the number to at least a three digit number by padding with 0s, and adds the prefix you entered. Thus, volume “bk1” gets converted to “Prefix 001”, volume “two” to “Prefix 002” etcetera.

Here are a few examples of how the data would change (weird ones in pink, unchanged in blue):

OLD VOLUME (before utility)

NEW VOLUME  (using prefix = “Book”)

Book 1

Book 001

V. 1

Book 001

12

Book 012

100

Book 100

one

Book 001

twenty-two

twenty-two

bookone

bookone

b1

Book 001

Vol. # twenty

Book 020

Vol 1234

Book 1234

v#1

Book 001

# 1

Book 001

s1b2

Book 012

1.2

Book 012

01-02

Book 102



Pad your numbers

You'll also want to pad the volume numbers with zeros (i.e. 001, 002) so "volume 10" doesn't show up before "volume 2". Why? Because the series volume field is not a numeric field; it sorts alphabetically. For example:

With padded 0s, Alexandria can sort the series like this.

001

002

010

020

100

Without padded 0s, those series numbers would be sorted like this:

1

10

100

2

20


With these fixes, you'll have your series sorting correctly in no time!

You're Suspended

Tip for 11.05.18

Can’t charge fines? Want to encourage patrons to return items on time anyway? Maybe suspending borrowing privileges will do the trick.


In Alexandria, you can set a number of days for which borrowing privileges would be forfeited per day an item is overdue. While not for everyone, it is a thought for solving the age-old problem of motivating patrons to return items on time. Follow these steps to set your suspension policy preferences: 

  1. Go to Preferences and click on Policies.

  2. Select a Patron Policy to edit the suspension settings.

  3. Click the Overdue tab on the Patron Policy side.

  4. Enter a number in the Days Suspended per Overdue Day field. For each day the item is overdue, the patron’s privileges will be suspended for this number of days entered here.

  5. Fill in the Maximum Days Suspended field to give it a limit.

  6. If you want Alexandria to count closed days as part of the suspension time, check the Suspend on Closed Days box.

  7. To have the patron notified of the suspension by email, check the last box (if your email is configured).

  8. Click Save.

  9. Repeat for any other policies.

Styles!

Tip for 10.29.18

Did you know Alexandria version 7 has styles for Researcher interfaces? You can change the colors for Search, Scout, Slideshow, Status, Researcher, and Explore!

Patron Status


  1. Go to Preferences > Researcher
  2. Select the module on the left. For this example, let’s look at Status.
  3. Change the Style dropdown menu to, for example, Mosaic.
  4. Save your change.
  5. Go to Patron Status to see the style!

The Bubbly Ocean theme is only available for Scout, Slideshow, and Status so far, but will be coming to the others later. Also, because of Scout’s specialized look, it’s only available in Bubbly Ocean and Professional.

Do you want more? Let us know in the comments!


Are you on version 6 and don’t have Styles? Learn more about switching from v6 to v7! 

Tip for 10.22.18

When you receive a file of item records from the vendor, importing those records into Alexandria doesn’t need to be complicated. Follow these steps for a painless import process.


Best practices

  • We highly recommend that you run imports when Alexandria is not busy. Large imports could slow down your system. This also makes it easier to track down any problems later on, as it isolates activity during that time.

  • The format of the file may be MARC, MicroLIF, or tab-delimited. In the case of tab-delimited, we recommend using Alexandria Headers for accurate field mapping. Otherwise, you'll need to manually adjust it by clicking Field Mapping for each import.

  • Create Saved Imports to save the settings you use most often, including Field Mapping (v7 only).



To import item records from a vendor file in v7

  1. Go to Tools and select Import.

  2. Click the Items category.

  3. Drag and drop your import file onto the window, or use Choose File to select from your desktop.

  4. Set Field Mapping, if needed.

  5. For this example, select Add or Update Titles & Copies.

  6. Make sure Always add at least one Copy is unchecked and Title Update Matching is set to ISBN OR LCCN.

  7. Set Barcode Handling to Reassign Only Duplicate Barcodes; vendors typically know your barcode range and have assigned them in the file. 

  8. Go to the Options tab and set the Title and Copy options as necessary, if the vendor didn't supply them. In the Copy subtab, make sure the Site is set correctly. 

  9. When you're finished, click Run.

  10. Check Operations Management for the status of your import.



To import item records from a vendor file in v6

  1. Go to Tools and select Import.

  2. Choose Quick for a one-time import, or add a new Advanced import for FTP imports and field mapping.

  3. Drag and drop your import file onto the window, or use the plus icon (+) to select from your desktop.

  4. Click the Item Settings tab.

  5. Set Copies to Add Found Copies.

  6. Check the boxes for Use Imported BarcodesReassign Duplicate Barcodes, and Allow Title Updates.

  7. Look over the location defaults and Item Policy settings.

  8. When you're finished, click Start.

  9. Check Operations Management for the status of your import.