March 1st, 2021

Historical fiction, coming-of-age, or supernatural... all of these genres fit The Book Thief. While you may have to choose just one for your physical library, you can add as many genres as you want to this book in your digital catalog. In fact, giving your books several genres can help make your catalog more searchable!




Alexandria has several tools to help you make sure your genres are ready to go!

We highly recommend running an archive before making big changes to your data. That way, you have a copy of your data that can be restored if anything goes wrong.

Put genres in the right tag

Researcher uses the 655_a tag to display and search by genre, so it's important to have genres listed there. The 650_v tag is sometimes used for genre but is considered outdated. So if you have some MARC records with the 650_v tag, you'll want to use the Create Genre MARC Tag utility to move genre information to the correct spot.

Add more genres

The first genre listed in the item record is the one that's visible in search results. However, you can still search or filter by any of an item's listed genres to find it.

Utility

Use the Add a MARC Tag utility to add additional genre tags to groups of books. You can also add secondary genres for fiction and nonfiction so that patrons can narrow down their searches that way.

Use the Selections tab to choose which titles will have the additional genre added to their MARC record. You could use selections like Titles in Call Number Range (e.g. all F, FIC, JF, etc. would be Fiction and all NF and 300-399 would be Nonfiction), Titles with a Policy of, Titles added, or others, depending on which would be the easiest way to group your books. Then, under the Options tab, type 655_a in the Add Tag_Subfield field. In the Value to Add field, type the genre.

You may need to run it several times to catch all of your books.

Circulation

Alternatively, you can use the Assign Keywords Circulation command to add genres by scanning books.

Edit genres

You can edit or combine genre terms in Authority Control. To combine terms, simply edit one to exactly match the other. They will then merge into one term.


My data!—All about archives

February 22nd, 2021

Miss Honey is about to remove a bunch of old titles from her catalog. But there's one thing she should do beforehand: run an archive.

Go Cloud Hosted and let us take care of your archives and backups!

An archive is a complete copy of your Alexandria database that can be used as a restore point in the event that your data is lost or damaged. It's a quick and automatic way of saving your database before making any large changes, such as performing an import, utility, update, or upgrading your machine.

An archive is not a backup, but it can be used as a backup once you've copied it to a secure, offsite location. This way, if the computer running Alexandria is damaged or otherwise inaccessible, the data you saved offsite will still be available to you. Read Back Up Your Data for more information if you're self-hosted. If you're cloud-hosted, we take care of your backups!

Run an Archive

In v7, Alexandria no longer prompts you to run an archive before imports and utilities. Archives are a full copy of the entire database, so running too many can take up a lot of space on servers. Alexandria will only hold a certain number of archives before removing older ones.

An archive is automatically run every night during daily maintenance. If you are self-hosted, keep your server on at night for this reason.

There are two places you can manually run an archive if you need another:

In v6, Alexandria will still prompt you to create an archive before imports and utilities. To manually run an archive, go to File > Archive Now.

Restore an Archive

Keep in mind that while you can restore your last archive, anything that happened after the last time it ran—checkouts, holds, etc—will be lost. You can restore archives from Administration, meaning you need to belong to a security group with a high security level, such as District Admin, in order to do this. If you need to restore an archive, we recommend you call Customer Support for assistance.


February 16th, 2021

It's time to run another patron import. You have the import saved, which makes things easier... but what about the field mapping? Well, Alexandria saves that too!


It's true! When you create a saved import, your field mapping will also be saved. You'll just need to make sure the order of the fields in your file always remains the same.

Create a Saved Patron Import

  1. Go to Tools > Import and select the Patrons category.
  2. Click Create Saved Import. Enter a name for the import and click OK. (You can fill out the settings either before or after you save the import.)
  3. Fill out all the tabs:
    1. Overview. Edit the name, add notes, and decide whether you want to mark the import as a favorite and share it.
    2. Settings. If you didn't fill out the setting prior to saving the report, fill them out now. This lets you define defaults, updates, and how barcodes are handled.
    3. Schedule. Schedule the import to run automatically if you would like. Note that this is only available for FTP/FTPS imports.
    4. Notification. If you would like an email notification whenever the import runs, turn on Enable Email Notification and enter the appropriate email address(es).
    5. File Source. Choose where the import file is coming from (choose a file from your computer or use FTP/FTPS). This is also where you'll do your field mapping.
  4. Click Save in the upper right-hand corner when you're done.

And there you go! You'll be able to find your saved import by going to the Saved tab while the Patrons category is selected. Note that if you're using the Choose File option to select where the import is coming from, you'll need to unlock the import, go to the File Source tab, and select a new import file for future imports. Otherwise, it will just import the same file every time.

Update your patron information automatically with GG4L, Clever, and/or COMPanion's FTP Service.


This tip is specifically for v7 users. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

The Magic X

February 8th, 2021

Have you ever needed to leave your computer for a moment and wanted a quick way to clear the current patron and item? Well, here's a simple trick to clear those panes so everyone's information remains confidential!

The Magic X (1:33) (info)

Use the X command to clear the current patron and item panes... and more.

Download (17.8 MB) | Script (PDF)

This video shows an older version of Alexandria, but the functionality of the X command is the same.

The X command is a great way to perform multiple time-saving functions within Circulation. Let’s take a look at what the “Magic X” can do for you! 

Clear the Screen
  1. With a current patron and item in Circulation, type X in the Command Line.
  2. Hit Enter/Return on your keyboard.

Tada! In two quick keystrokes, you can clear your patron and item panes! 

View Item Information

Another time to use the X command is whenever you want to just view an item without changing its status. 

  1. In the Command Line, type an X followed by the barcode, like this: x 10101.
  2. Hit Enter/Return on your keyboard.

This will allow you to see the status of the book without initiating any commands.

Patron Details is now interactive in v7! If you want to view an item listed in the current patron's Details, simply click on that item's title. Cancel out of the Patron Details dialog and—voilà—it will be the current item.

View Patron Information

You can also do this with a patron. Say you are changing homerooms, and Darla walks up and asks you for a list of all her checkouts.

  1. Simply type X and Darla's barcode into the Command Line (e.g. x 1000).
  2. Hit Enter/Return on your keyboard.

You can then quickly print her Patron Details without skipping a beat!


The X command is available in both v6 and v7. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

February 1st, 2021

It's time for Miss Honey to print more patron barcode labels. She wants to include all types of patrons in the report—elementary, middle, and high school—except for staff. But how do you do that in Alexandria? Introducing... advanced report selections!


Alexandria allows you to include or exclude specified patron policies in Patron and Circulation reports. This comes in handy if you want to exclude staff when printing labels or using Circulation reports. Or, you can use it to include only a few policies.

Simply click on the dropdown menu for the Patrons with a Policy of selection and choose from three options:

  • Any Policy: All policies will be included.
  • Include: Only the policies you check will be included (OR). Patrons do not need to concurrently belong to all selected policies to be included.
  • Exclude: All policies except the ones you check will be included (AND NOT).

If you select Include or Exclude, a Set button will appear to the right of the dropdown menu. Click on it to check the boxes of policies you want to include or exclude in the report, and click Set when you're done.


And there you have it! Only the patron policies you want will be included in the report.


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

Send notices by charge amount

January 25th, 2021

Every so often, Miss Honey likes to send out the Unpaid Charges Notice report. This reminds students of charges they still need to pay. But... she doesn't want to keep bothering students with small charges. Is there a way to send notices only to patrons with charges more than $1? Alexandria has a selection for that! 

Unpaid Charges Notice report


There are two Alexandria notices that focus on unpaid charges:

  1. Unpaid Charges Notice report

  2. Overdue Items and Unpaid Charges Notice report

Both have selections that allow you to choose who gets a notice based on charge amounts (Charge Balance or Charge Balance and Fine, respectively). Simply enter the charge range for which you want to send out notices. In Miss Honey's case, she'd enter 1.00 on the lower end and a larger number—such as 100.00—on the higher end.

One thing to note about using the Overdue Items and Unpaid Charges Notice report is that overdue items with fines less than the selected amount won't be included in notices. For example, if $1.00 is the selected minimum and a patron has an overdue item with a 50¢ fine, that overdue item won't show up in the notice.

Patron Balance vs. Charge Balance: What's the difference?

A patron balance reflects the total of all charges and fines a patron currently owes.

However, a charge balance—such as the Charge Balance or Charge Balance and Fine selections here—reflects individual charges rather than a patron's total balance. This means that someone with three 50¢ charges that total $1.50 won't receive a notice since each charge is under the $1.00 (if you set $1.00 as the minimum amount).

Forgive Charges Utility

Did you know that—as of 20.8—you can forgive charges by patron balance? That means you can just remove those pesky small balances if you'd prefer. All you need to do is enter a balance range into the Forgive Charges utility's Patron Balance selection. Remember to make other necessary adjustments to your selections and options before running the utility.

Patron Balance selection


These specific reports and utility are only available on v7. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

January 19th, 2021

Alexandria offers a wide variety of cool reports. But... while it's awesome there are so many, we know it can feel overwhelming at times. This is why we've put together a list of specific reports you may want to check out!

Daily/Weekly Reports

Here are some reports you may want to schedule to run once a day or once a week:

  • Holds

    • Expired In-Stock Holds. See which holds haven't been picked up in time and need to be returned to the shelves.

    • On-Shelf Holds. Get a list of holds that need to be gathered from the shelves. Then mark them as in-stock by bookdropping, printing slips, and placing them in the holds pickup area.

Some reports may have improved since the last time you set them up, so be sure to go through your current saved reports.

Helpful Reports

Here are some other helpful reports to consider using:

  • Weeding List. Get an overall view of your collection to decide what needs to be weeded. Note that this report includes all copies. Use selections to narrow the report to one status, one call number range, or one policy at a time.

  • Brief Analysis. See the number of titles/copies, total purchase/replacement cost, and average purchase/replacement cost for selected items.

  • Super Summary. View a quick valuation of your collection. In particular, give the Regular - Ignore Super Summary Call Numbers format a try.

  • Unused Barcodes. If you're ordering from a vendor, run this report to ensure certain barcode ranges are free to use and/or to print labels for that unused range.

  • Usage by Period. See checkouts, check-ins, renewals, and hold requests for a particular date range. This is a great report to run at the end of the year! Try out the By Month of the Year format sorted by Entire Range, in particular.

  • Patrons with No Email. Make sure all of your patrons will receive notices by ensuring no one is missing an email address.

Do you have any go-to reports? Share with others in the comments!

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

January 11th, 2021

Miss Honey would like to automatically notify patrons as soon as their holds are ready for pickup. How can she do this in Alexandria? Well, we've recently added a selection to the In-Stock Hold Notice report to do just that!


As of 20.7, you can schedule hold notices to go out based on availability dates. That means you can set up notices to automatically go out the day of or one day after books become in-stock!

Here are some easy peasy steps for doing this with the In-Stock Hold Notice report:

  1. Go to Reports > Circulation > Notices > In-Stock Hold Notice.

  2. Fill out the In-Stock Hold Available selection. You can either add a date range or relative date. Use a relative date of This Day or Last 1 Day to send out notices the day of or one day after availability. 
  3. Adjust any other selections you'd like to use.
  4. On the Options tab, choose a way to sort notices and which format to use. Choose the Email format for easy distribution. You can also edit the notice text as necessary.
  5. Click Run.
  6. If you'd like to save and schedule this report, click Create Saved Report, name it, click OK, and fill out the Schedule tab.

And there you go! You won't have to think about hold notices for a looong while. 

Selecting by hold availability is also possible with the In-Stock Holds report.


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

Top 5 Tips of 2020

January 4th, 2021

Happy New Year! To kick off 2021, we'd like to share the top five most popular tips from 2020. Take a look just in case you missed that week or need a refresher on one of the topics.

Thanks to your feedback, we've got some awesome tips planned for spring 2021. So keep an eye out for an email each week!

December 14th, 2020

Yep... it's almost time to curl up by the fire with a good book and hot chocolate! Before you go, though, could you take a short survey? Help us help you by picking out Tip of the Week topics you're most interested in seeing for Spring 2021.


As always, we appreciate your time and feedback.

Also, if you happen to need help with Alexandria at any time during winter break, feel free to contact our 24/7 Customer Support! There are several ways you can reach them:

We hope you and your patrons have a happy—and safe—break! 

Prepping for winter break

December 7th, 2020

Winter break is approaching, which means reminding your patrons to return everything! Luckily, we've got a collection of great tips to help you get everything in order before heading out for the holidays.

Coming Due Items Notice report


Incentives
  • You're Suspended. If you can't charge fines, you can still encourage patrons to return materials on time by suspending borrowing privileges.

Notices

You'll need to add an email to your Site Record and configure Email Preferences for email notice reports to work.


What does your library do to prepare for winter break? Share in the comments!

November 30th, 2020

Miss Honey uses Activity to keep track of how many patrons are coming to the library for book clubs. But when there's a long line of patrons, signing everyone in can take a while... Enter Activity Express! This new mode makes Activity sign-ins faster and—if necessary—hands-free.


With Activity Express, librarians can pre-set an activity so all patrons need to do is scan their barcode. Make it hands-free by setting up a scanner in a stand near the kiosk. That way, patrons can simply hold their library card (Library Cards 2x5 report) or phone (Patron Status mobile barcode) underneath the scanner.

See our updated Activity page for information on this new mode, including...

  • setting up Express Mode,
  • using Express Mode as a patron, and
  • customizing activities (reasons patrons visit the library).

Interested in using Activity in your library? Try it out in the demo and contact our Sales Team!



Activity is only available on v7. Still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7! 

November 23rd, 2020

When students aren't allowed in the library, how can you help them—especially younger kids—pick out items they want? We are proud of the creative solutions librarians continue to develop, including this cool idea from a fellow Alexandria user, Deanna Contrino! Since her students aren't allowed in the library, she created reusable library cards with "book menus."


Here are some photos of an example card from Deanna.

On Deanna's cards, one side has a "book menu" and the other side has the student's name and barcode. The book menu lists different categories of books that students can choose from. For younger kids, there are also options for information vs. fiction and read alone vs. picture books. When Deanna visits classrooms and passes out the cards, students circle the type of book they'd like with a dry-erase marker. She can then pick out an appropriate book for each student, check it out to them with the card, and then drop off the books in the classroom.

How can you use these in your own library? Follow the steps below!

Create the cards

Materials: postcard paper (or other sturdy paper), printer, Alexandria labels, laminator or page protectors, scissors

  1. Make a book menu for each grade or age group. Deanna used an online program called Canva, but there are many others you can use!
  2. Print one book menu onto each postcard.

    Remember to print the book menus at the right size!

  3. Use an Alexandria report to print labels with each student's name, barcode, and other information you want to include. Attach these to the other side of the postcards.
    1. v7
      1. Use the Library Cards (2x5) report if you want to include the patron's picture.
      2. Use the Patron Barcode Labels (3x10) report to easily peel the labels off the sheet and stick them on the back of the postcards.
    2. v6
      1. Use the Patron Cards report or one of the patron barcode reports.
  4. Laminate and cut out the cards or place them in page protectors.
Use the cards
  1. Visit a classroom. Deanna talks about the book categories or "big ideas" and shows examples of each. She likes to make sure students understand that the image representing the category isn't necessarily the book they'll get.
  2. Pass out everyone's library cards and dry-erase markers.
  3. Ask each student to circle the kind of book they would like.
  4. Collect the cards.
  5. Choose a book for each student depending on their preferred category and reading level. Once you have chosen a book, tuck the card into the book with the barcode side up.
  6. After you've selected all of the books for a class, scan them all at once in Circulation.
  7. Deliver the books to the classroom. Once each student has their book, collect the cards and store them in folders labeled by class.

And there you have it! Feel free to adapt this idea to what would work best for your library. If you give it a try, let us know how it's going in the comments below. And thank you to Deanna Contrino for sharing this awesome idea!

Before you go...

Have you used the new Patron Details, Item Details, and Copy List? Let us know what you think in our short survey! Your feedback will help inform future improvements.

November 16th, 2020

Do you still have a lot of lost books? When schools and libraries had to close suddenly, students may have lost or forgotten about their books. If your patrons need a little reminder to return them, simply send out the Lost Items Charge Notice report!

Email Preferences need to be configured for email notice reports to work. You'll also need to have an email listed in your Site Record.

Version 7

The Lost Items Charge Notice report will go out to all selected patrons who have unpaid charges on lost items. We recommend you set up a scheduled report that will automatically send notices on a regular basis:

  1. Go to Reports > Circulation > Notices > Lost Items Charge Notice.
  2. Click Create Saved Report in the bottom right-hand corner.
  3. Type a name for the report and click OK.
  4. The report will move to the Saved tab, where there are additional settings. Fill out the Overview, Selections, Options, Schedule, Notification, and FTP tabs as necessary.
    1. Be sure to fill out the Schedule tab to determine the report frequency.
    2. If you would like notices to be emailed directly to students, choose the Email format on the Options tab.
    3. If you use paper notices and want to be emailed a link to the downloadable PDF each week, check the Enable Email Notification checkbox on the Notification tab and add your email to the Email Notification and Download Link To field.
    4. If you want a confirmation each time the report runs, check the Enable Email Notification checkbox on the Notification tab and add your email to the Email Notification To field.

  5. Click Save.

You can also use the Send Patron Details Email report to remind patrons about lost books they have already paid charges on. That might incentivize them to look for those lost books and get their money back!

Version 6

You can also notify your patrons about lost items in v6 with any Circulation Notice report. Choose the report with your preferred format and change the Transaction Type to Lost Item. If you want to schedule the report, use the Schedule tab.

Whether you're on v6 or v7, check out our 5 Library Notices to Lighten Things Up blog post for some fun ideas on spicing up your notice text!

Before you go...

Have you used the new Patron Details, Item Details, and Copy List? Let us know what you think in our short survey! Your feedback will help inform future improvements.

What's due soon?—Relative dates

November 9th, 2020

Miss Honey is ready to run a Coming Due Items Notice report for books due next week. But... what if she wants to schedule it to run every week? Sending out notices for items that were due from November 15th–21st won't be helpful in the future. Luckily, you can use date ranges or relative dates.


When inputting dates in Alexandria reports, you have the choice between two types:

  • Date Range: The time in between two specified dates (i.e. 11/15/20–11/21/20).
  • Relative Date: A generalized time period, such as a week or a month, rather than specific dates.

You can use the little dropdown to the right of a selection involving dates to switch between Date Range to Relative Date.

In Miss Honey's case, she'd use a Relative Date combination of "Next 1 Week" for the Patrons with Items Due selection. Then, once scheduled, only notices that are relevant to the following week will go out!

In v6, you can use Adaptive Dates for similar purposes.