Blog
Help!—Training your patrons

December 9th, 2019

We know that training patrons on library software and answering constant questions can be time-consuming. Maybe your library is new to Alexandria, or your patrons just aren't super comfortable using Researcher yet... Whatever your situation, you should check out our new training videos for patrons!

Patron-Facing Search (2:17)

Each 1-2 minute video shows patrons how to do a basic function in Researcher, such as using Scout, placing holds, creating lists, and more. 

These videos can be viewed in two places:

  1. Go to the Alexandria University: Patron-Facing Interfaces playlist on our YouTube channel. 
  2. Or find them in the "Patron-Facing Interfaces" section of our Video Directory's Alexandria University tab.


Show the videos in a group setting, or give everyone the link to watch on their own time. Either way, your patrons will feel more confident navigating your catalog.

Help!—New reports documentation

November 25th, 2019

Which report shows the day of the week your library gets the most activity? How do you use the Title Information by Series report to see which titles you're missing in a particular series? We know navigating Alexandria reports can sometimes be a bit tricky. That's why we're thrilled to announce new reports documentation in our Support Center!

That's right. For every single report, you can now look up what it does, read about situations in which you might use it, and view PDF examples of each format.

This documentation is organized exactly like the reports section in Alexandria, with the same categories and subcategories. Start on the Complete Reports List page and click on a category icon or type the specific report's name in the search bar. Once you're on a subcategory page, click on the report's name to expand that section. 

For example...

If I were trying to find the Patron Balance report, I would click on the Circulation category icon, then the Charges and Information subcategory, and then Patron Balance. Or, if I didn't know which category icon to click on, I would simply type "Patron Balance report" in that page's little search bar and click on the subcategory that pops up in the results. Voilà!


Which reports do you use the most, and what do you use them for? Share with everyone in the comments!


November 18th, 2019

Dallin is notorious for having overdue books. They get mixed in with the rest of his books at home, and he can't remember what the covers look like. Luckily, you can now give patrons a list of their loaned items with cover art pictures by using Alexandria's Patron Details.


Giving Dallin a copy of his Patron Details with cover art will help him quickly identify his library books at home and—hopefully—return them on time.

Include cover art

Adding cover art to Patron Details is easy! Simply pull up a patron in Circulation, click on Details, and check the Include cover art checkbox. Cover art will then show for each loaned item when viewing, printing, or emailing Patron Details.

Before you go...

We are currently redesigning Patron Details to better meet your needs. Take our survey and give us your thoughts on potential designs!

November 11th, 2019

Do spelling errors sometimes get in the way of your patrons and the results they're looking for in Researcher? Good news! We know of something that will help: Chrome's Enhanced spell check.

With this handy tool, patrons will know they've made a spelling error in their search because it will be underlined in red. They can then right-click and choose the correct word from Chrome's listed suggestions.

How to enable Enhanced spell check
  1. Open a Google Chrome web browser.
  2. Click on the three dots to the right of the search bar ("Customize and control Google Chrome") and click on Settings.
  3. Click on Sync and Google services.
  4. Turn Enhanced spell check on.
  5. Complete this process for each search station in your library.
What makes Enhanced spell check different from Basic spell check?

Chrome's default Basic spell check has a limited database and only checks a small list of words. However, Enhanced spell check uses the same word list as the Google search engine, meaning it checks over a million words and phrases. Overall, it's quite advanced and catches more spelling errors.


Now you can sit back as those "elehpants" turn to "elephants" and patrons find exactly what they're looking for!

November 4th, 2019

Darla needs to find a book within a certain Lexile range for her upcoming book report. What's the most convenient way for her to view all of her options? Well, there are several ways she could use Alexandria's Researcher to find the perfect book at her reading level.

Filter Researcher Results

If Darla wants to find a book in her reading level range written by Rick Riordan, she can use the Study Program filter in Search along with searching "Rick Riordan." This way she can narrow results to both those in her reading level range and those written by that author. 

OR

If Darla needs a book in her reading level range but isn't exactly sure what she's looking for, using Browse by Study Program is the way to go! With this new option, she can select her reading level and see all of the available books in that range.

Set Preferred Study Programs

Make a particular study program appear first when looking at an item's details. 

  1. Go to Tools > Preferences > Researcher.
  2. Click on Explore, Search, or Scout.
  3. Select a study program using the Preferred Study Program dropdown menu.
  4. Click Save in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  5. Repeat with each Researcher module.

The option to select a preferred study program for Browse is coming soon.

Show or Hide Study Programs

Make commonly used study programs visible and hide those you don't use as much.

  1. Go to Tools > Preferences > Researcher.
  2. Click on Explore, Search, or Scout.
  3. Click on the Results List tab.
  4. Check or uncheck Show Study Program or Show Lexile depending on what you would like to show up.
  5. Repeat with each Researcher module.


And there you have it! These search options and preferences are simple ways to help patrons find books in their reading level more easily.

October 28th, 2019

How would you limit reference books so that only staff can check them out? Or, what if you needed to restrict third graders from checking out more than three DVDs at a time when usually they can check out up to five items? In Alexandria, you can do both of these things and more with Policy Exceptions!

Create a Policy Exception

Policy Exceptions modify the relationships and behavior between selected patron and item policies. And creating one is easy:

  1. Go to Tools > Preferences > Policies.
  2. Use the two dropdown menus to select the Patron Policy and Item Policy that, when combined, will create the policy exception.
  3. Click the Exceptions button. It should turn red.
  4. Go through the various tabs for both policies (Check Out, Overdue, and Other) and change the fields, dropdown menus, and checkboxes to the appropriate values.
  5. When you have successfully created your exceptions, click Save.
  6. A red outline should appear around every exception that was made (field, dropdown menu, and checkbox). You can check to make sure all of the appropriate exceptions are showing up.

You can also modify and remove existing exceptions. Keep in mind that changing a policy will not affect past transactions (i.e. items that are already checked out).


Customize Your Researcher Pane

October 21st, 2019

From school calendars and teacher websites to OverDrive and GoodReads, there are a lot of helpful sites you'd like to make it easy for patrons to access. But the question remains... where should you post all of these links? With Alexandria, the answer is simple: add them to your Researcher pane by using Explore Builder!

Customizing your Researcher pane (or "home page") is easy with Explore Builder. In addition to adding new icons and links, you can choose which search interfaces to include. Do your patrons never use Scout? Simply remove the icon and replace it with something else. You can also choose whether or not to link to modules like Self Service, Bulletins, or Patron Status.

How do you do all this with Explore Builder? Read through our easy breezy instructions on modifying your Researcher pane and changing your designated Researcher pane.

You can also customize Researcher's look by switching up your Styles or adding your own logo.

Before You Go...

Have you filled out our recent survey? If not, share your thoughts on study programs, Styles, new features, and more! Your feedback will help us make informed decisions about upcoming changes.


Help!—Workshops

October 14th, 2019

Having a hard time getting used to how Alexandria works? Wish you could get more help with things like running reports or customizing Researcher? Well, we have the perfect resource for you! Our training workshop videos provide in-depth information on all things Alexandria. And best of all—they're completely free!

Your Items and the Tools to Manage Them (1:13:33)


One workshop that's particularly helpful this time of year is our Items Workshop. Watch the video above to learn how to maintain a clean and searchable catalog by using Genre fields, cataloging series information consistently, and more! You can also look through our entire workshop collection for handy videos on many other topics.

Upcoming Workshop

Sign up for our Researcher Enhancements Workshop taking place on Wednesday, October 23rd from 12:00–1:00 PM (MST) / 2:00–3:00 PM (EST). By the end of the training, you'll know how to better use Researcher features like reservations, Browse, and "begins with" search. You don't want to miss out!


October 7th, 2019

Are you nearing or have you hit your patron record limit? There's always the option of increasing your license limit. But first, try cleaning out your patron records using the tips below!

screenshot of a pop-up warning that lets you know if you have exceeded your record limit

If you have exceeded your license limit, a warning will pop up in Alexandria to let you know. Alexandria is licensed by record number tiers. Check which tier you're licensed for in Circulation > Special > License Info. You could also look at your packing list or contact Customer Support (1-800-347-4942) to get this information. Compare that number to how many patron records you currently have by going to Circulation > Special > System Info

Remove Old Records

Get rid of Transferred, Inactive, and Graduated patrons if you haven't recently. Check out the Patron Cleanup section of our Clean Up Your Data page for instructions on removing these records.

Remove Duplicates
  1. Run a Patron Information report sorted by last name.

  2. Click on the Operations Management icon  and locate the report. Then download and print the PDF.

  3. Go through the list of patrons and make note of any duplicates.

  4. Go to Utilities > Patrons > Remove Patrons.

  5. Click on Show Additional Selections and then type all of the duplicates' barcode numbers in the Patrons with Barcodes selection.

  6. Click Run.

And there you go! All duplicates you identified should be gone.

Consider Clever

If keeping track of patrons who have moved or graduated is a hassle, consider using a school information system (SIS) such as Clever. When patron data is synced with Alexandria via Clever, patrons who have an active record in Alexandria but are no longer included in the synced data will be marked as Transferred. Then you'll only need to run a Remove Patrons utility for those with a status of Transferred to remove old records.


Feel free to give our Customer Support team a call (1-800-347-4942) or send an email (support@goalexandria.com) if you have questions about your record limits!

Which volumes am I missing?

September 30th, 2019

Jonathan has finished the first book in the Alex Rider series and wants to check out the second. But he says he can't find it in Researcher or anywhere in the library. You perform a search yourself and... nothing. Do you really not have the second book? Are there other books missing from your collection's Alex Rider series?

screenshot of the Title Information by Series report PDF output


Make sure your series information is standardized and correctly placed so that titles appear in series searches. 

Luckily, you can run an Alexandria report to see which volumes are actually missing from any series:

  1. Go to Tools > Reports > Titles > Information > Title Information by Series.
  2. Make the appropriate selections.
    1. If you would like to see the volumes you have in a specific series, type the series name in the Titles in the Series selection.
    2. If you would like to see a list of all the series and volumes in your collection, you don't need to make any selections.
  3. Click Run.
  4. Click on the Operations Management icon  and download the PDF.

And there you have it! Your downloaded PDF will contain a list of the series and volumes you do have. Once you identify what's missing from the list, simply place an order for those volumes. 

Fix Your Series!

September 23rd, 2019

You finally received your shipment of all the books in the Magic Tree House series! Only there's one problem... the series information is not in the right place in the vendor's MARC records. You know that, in Alexandria, series and volume information should be in the 830 tag, not the 490 tag. Otherwise, titles may not show up properly in Researcher... 

But don't worry! You don't have to go in and manually change those tags—there's a utility for that. The Fix Series utility copies information from the 490_a and 490_v values to the 830_a and 830_v values. Go ahead and import your records, then follow these steps:

  1. Go to Tools > Utilities
  2. Select the Titles > Catalog category. 
  3. Choose the Fix Series utility. 
  4. Click Run
  5. Go to Operations Management and download the summary file to see which titles were changed.

In fact, we recommend running this utility regularly to ensure your series information is in the right place!

For more tips on making your collection search-friendly, check out our Items Management Workshop video and FAQs.

September 16th, 2019

Miss Honey has a cart of books with her. She has selected the perfect number and variety for her Approved Book Report List. But... how does she make a searchable list in Researcher with those books on the cart?


Normally, your patrons are searching for a particular book because they don't have it in front of them. Librarians, however, are used to working with books they've already pulled. For this reason, you CAN search for a copy barcode or barcode range in Search by using a search string like ((copybarcode::10293--10294)). That's not exactly the fastest way to pull up books to add to a list, though. We want to make this easier for you in the future. But in the meantime, here's a handy workaround: 

  1. In Circulation, enter Assign Keyword mode (V), for, say, Bibliographic term (B). Then enter some random string of characters for the term (e.g. V B ZXCXZ). That will assign the term ZXCXZ to any books you scan.
  2. Go ahead, scan your cart of books!
  3. Next, in Search, do a search for your random term (ZXCXZ).
  4. Only the books you want on your list will show up! Go to the list icon  at the top of the results and choose Add All to List.
  5. Select an existing list or create a new one.

Voila! All the books Miss Honey wants are now on her list and she can go about her work!

But what about that random ZXCXZ bibliographic term now showing up for those books? ...You could just leave it.

Nah, I wouldn't leave it either.

  1. Open Authority Control and go to Titles > Bibliographic (if that's the keyword you assigned with the V command). 
  2. Find your ZXCXZ entry, double-click, and delete the text. 
  3. Confirm the modification, and a utility will be scheduled to clear out that term. 

That'll do!

Although the term will be removed, those items will still show up for a search of ZXCXZ for a short time. Why? The term still exists in the search index, and will be cleared out during automatic Alexandria maintenance. So if you are doing multiple lists, use multiple terms, then clean them all up in Authority Control at the end.

Refresher—Patron Status

September 9th, 2019

The school year is in full swing, kids are checking out books, and they are starting to flood you with questions like "What do I have checked out?" or "Is it time to renew my book yet?"

Okay, those aren't particularly difficult questions. And it's not like you mind helping them, but... they can also find out that information themselves using Patron Status. Then there's more time left for reading!


For the patron standing in front of you and asking one of those questions, you know you can print their Patron Details using the Q and QP commands in Circulation. Other commands you might use are R to renew their items, F to pay their fines, or H to place a hold for them. But let's take a look at what you can teach your patrons to do on their own.

Do you have Patron Status easily accessible from your Researcher? Use Explore Builder to add it.


Place holds

Your patrons can place holds in Search, Explore, Scout, or Browse. 

  1. Log in to Researcher. 
  2. Find your book.
  3. Click on the hold icon .  

See what you have checked out

There are several places you can find this information:

  1. Log in to Patron Status
  2. To see the items you have checked out right now:
    1. On the main Status tab, see your Items Out.
    2. Or go to the Items Out tab. 
  3. To see items you checked out sometime in the past and have checked back in:
    1. Go to the Returned tab.

Renew checkouts

There are two places you can do this in Patron Status:

  1. On the main Status tab, see your Items Out.
    1. The items at the top are closest to being due. If the date is red, they are overdue!
    2. Click the renew icon  to renew that item.
  2. On the Items Out tab. 
    1. The items at the top are closest to being due. If the text is red, they are overdue!
    2. Click the item you want to renew, and some options slide in from the right.
    3. Click the renew icon  to renew that item.

Pay fines

Patrons can pay their own fines if 1) they have existing credits and 2) you have set the Security > Account > Charges preference for their security group to Make Payment. To make a payment:

  1. Log in to Patron Status
  2. Go to the Charges tab.
  3. Select the charge you want to pay.
  4. Click the charges icon on the right.
  5. Read the popup then click Process to pay your charge from available credits!


Empower your patrons by giving them access to Status and letting them manage their connection with the library!

The new Status is only available in version 7. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

Refresher—Promoting new items

September 3rd, 2019

Have you recently added new titles to your catalog? Now it's time to get your patrons just as excited about that illustrated Harry Potter set as you are! Here are a few ways you can use Alexandria to let your patrons know what's now available.

Slideshows

Create a slideshow to show off new items! First, you'll need to create a list in Researcher:

  1. Log in to the Search interface.
  2. Use the ((accession::# %today -180)) Search String to find recently added titles. Change the days from 180 to, say, 30 for a more recent selection.
  3. Click on the list icon  at the top of the results to Add All to List > Create New List.
  4. Name the list (e.g. "New Items") and make it Public
  5. Click on My Lists to the right of the search bar, select your new list, and use the share icon  at the top to generate a Search String.
  6. Copy the string and move on to the steps below.

Next, make your Slideshow:

  1. In Preferences > Researcher > Slideshow, paste the search string in the Search field.
  2. Set the Layout, Transition, Speed, and Style, then Save.
  3. You can then display the slideshow on a TV monitor, computer, or tablet.


If you have a main Slideshow set and don't want to replace it, you can create a separate slideshow via URL and link to it from any Explore button. See Custom Slideshow URLs.


Library displays

Need to use some books for a display? Check out those books to the Library Use patron (barcode 3) so you can still keep track of them:

  1. In Circulation, enter barcode 3 in the Command Line.
  2. Scan the books you want on the display.

Special patrons don't have due dates or other limitations. If a patron wants to check out a book from a display, bookdrop the item then check out as normal.

If you want display items to show up as available to your patrons, use the Copy Location or Copy Shelving fields in your copy records to mark where the book is being displayed. 


What other ways do you use Alexandria to promote your awesome catalog? Leave a comment to let us know!


Slideshow is only available in version 7. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

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)!