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Summer break cleanup, anyone?

Tip for May 13, 2019

End-of-Year Procedures

Before you can take a break with full satisfaction, you'll want to prep your library for the summer. We have some general recommendations on our blog, and we've revamped our End-of-Year Procedures article just for you. 

Have you been following our release announcements? Here are a few things that might be useful this time of year.

  • Run the Inventory reports in Alexandria and Textbook Tracker to find out what you have and what's still out.
  • When you email a Patron Details report from Circulation, add a note for Mom or Dad and ask for those items back!
  • End of year data cleanup? Yes, please! Read up on Cataloging Series and Serials, then run the Title Information by Series report to see how your series are being presented, and do some cleanup!
  • Want to change things up for next year? Take a look at your Researcher pane—it might need an update. Take advantage of all the icons we have available for you, and don't forget to add Browse!


Have a great summer! See ya next fall!

New features keep on coming for Alexandria 7. Are you still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7!


What have I read?

Tip for May 06, 2019

Do you have some voracious readers in your library? Maybe one or two of them have asked you to pick out books for them to read.

Let’s use Darla as an example.

I know she likes adventure, fantasy, and other teen reads. I recently read Anne of Green Gables for the first time—might that be the perfect book recommendation?—but how do I know she hasn't already read it? I could wrack my brain for a bunch of titles and present a stack of books to Darla next time she visits, so she can choose the ones she hasn’t read. Or I could be a bit more clever and check Darla’s reading history to see if she’s ever checked that book out. 

  1. In Circulation, go to the Patrons pane and open the Actions menu.
  2. Choose History to run a Patron History report.
  3. Open the PDF, and search it for the title you were thinking of.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) our memories aren't perfect. We can't always remember the plot of every book we've ever read, and sometimes we can't even remember if we've read a particular book or not. Being able to check your history is ever so useful!

In Alexandria version 7, your patrons can log in to Patron Status to see (and filter!) their complete reading history in the Returned tab.


Patron Status Returned


“It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”

― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Mobile inventory—Offline Mode

Tip for April 29, 2019

Inventory requires a lot of moving around. Do you want to be tied, literally, to your computer and scanner? Of course not. So let's go mobile!

Offline Mode Mobile


So, what do you need to be a mobile inventorying super librarian?

  • Alexandria 7 Offline Mode
  • A smartphone
  • A Bluetooth scanner connected to your phone
  • A library collection with scannable barcodes
  • A great attitude (Kidding! You can do this even if you aren't super happy about it.)

On your phone's internet browser, go to your library URL followed by /offline (mylibrary.goalexandria.com/offline), then choose Inventory mode and get to work!

BUT WAIT!

There are a few really really important things you need to know before you begin. Offline Mode is basically creating a transaction script, not real transactions, which means...

  1. Offline Mode keeps a running log of your inventory, but nothing actually happens until you hit the Upload button on the bottom right and send the data to your Alexandria. 

  2. The running log will not tell you if there are any exceptions. Once you upload the data, go to Operations Management and open the Info file for the transaction script import. Scroll through the list of transactions and look for "Exceptions: . . ." It will also show *** (status) or ??→ (out of call # order).

Mobile Offline Mode is only in Alexandria 7. Are you still on version 6? Learn about switching to Alexandria 7!



Fewer clicks—Bookmark that

Tip for April 22, 2019

The end of the school year is quickly approaching, and you're probably running a lot of reports. Want to take a few clicks out of your workflow? Here are a few tips.

Chrome Tabs - Circulation

Version 7

Bookmarks. Each module has its own webpage, so it has a URL you can bookmark. In Reports, drag the URL to your bookmarks bar to access it directly next time!

Keyboard Shortcuts. In Circulation, use Command/Control+6 to open Reports in a new tab. See more shortcuts...

Moving back and forth between tabs a lot? Your OS/browser has a shortcut for that: Control+Tab to go right and Control+Shift+Tab to go left.

Version 6

Shortcuts. You must assign keyboard shortcuts to the menu item. On a Mac, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts, and select App Shortcuts on the left. Add a new shortcut for Application: Alexandria, like Menu Title: Reports, Keyboard Shortcut: Command+Shift+R

Moving back and forth between windows a lot? On a Mac, try Command+Tab to move between applications, or Command+` to move between windows in the same application. You can also set up Mission Control (System Preferences) for shortcuts to show all windows.


Tip for April 15, 2019

Do you perform inventory? (Silly question.) Do you weed items? (Another silly question.) Do you do those things at the same time? You can.

Utilities


We talked recently about Spring cleaning—Weeding old items which gave you some methods to identify items to weed. You could pull those items separately, but since you'll be working in your stacks to do inventory anyway, you could also use the Check Out utility to select a group of items and check them out to Discarded. 

  1. Navigate to Tools > Utilities and locate the utility. 
    • v6 – Check Out 
    • v7 – Check Out to System Patron

  2. Make your selections. Enter a "Copy last used date" range to select items that haven't been used in a long time – try a date in the far past, like 100 years ago, to something more recent, like 5 years ago. Or you could enter barcodes from your weeding list. 
    • v6 – Select By Barcode List
    • v7 – Check Show Additional Selections

  3. Set your options. 
    • v7 – In the Options tab, choose Discarded from the Check Out Selected Copies to dropdown menu.
    • v6 – in the Selection tab, set To Patron to 2-Discarded Copies.

As you're scanning items during inventory, listen for the alert sound that tells you when something unexpected happened – like if you scanned a discarded item – so you can set those books aside. 


What's that sound?

You can change it! In Preferences > Sounds, change the Inventory Alert sound to something else, like Buzzer. Now you'll hear it!

All the things—Print Details

Tip for April 8, 2019

Anton comes in to the library to ask, "Do I have any overdue books?" So you pull up his information in Circulation and see that, yep, there are a few. Then you go to the Renewals tab and tell him the titles of the three books that are overdue.

The next day, Anton comes back to you and hands you one book. "I forgot what the others are." So you tell him again. 

The next day he returns the remaining books then asks how much he owes in overdue fines. He has $1 but he owes $2.25. 

The next day—

Wait a minuteis this really necessary? No!

Patron Details


The first time Anton stops by your desk, pull up his record in Circulation, then enter Q in the command line to bring up his Patron Details that shows all of the books he has checked out and the balance he owes. You can print the report and hand it to him right there or email it to his mom (v7 only, email must be configured).

Now he knows all the things he needs to know!

Emailing details and receipts is only available in v7. Are you still on version 6? Learn about switching from v6 to v7! 



Tip for April 1, 2019

Nope, it's not an April Fool's tip!

During last month's Item Management Workshop, we took an in-depth look at the Item record fields and the tools to best manage them. Now, our Trainers want to give you some additional resources to show off your cataloging work.

Genre Explore Pane


Search Strings

Did you know you can use a search string with any Explore button? For example, you can use a search string to create buttons that perform searches across both the old 650_v Genre and the new 655_a Genre fields.

In Explore Builder, set the Action to Perform Search, then enter a search string. In the example below, replace Historical Fiction with the genre of your choice, then duplicate this string for as many genre-type searches as you need!

((genre::Historical Fiction)||(smart::Historical Fiction))


While you're at it, download our Improved Genre Buttons.txt and then update your Genre pane in Explore Builder. Go to the bottom of the Explore Pane list on the left, open the Actions menu, and choose Import Pane. Locate the file on your computer, then click OK.

Explore Builder

New to Explore Builder? Learn all about it in this workshop video!

Tip for March 25, 2019

You may remember the Command Line Shortcuts tip from a few years ago. (Or maybe you don't—take a look, it's excellent.) That was followed up by Command Line Shortcuts—AdvancedAlso a great read, but it wasn't complete. Here are a few more. 

Command Help Tab


There are four types of keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Management shortcuts let you add, save, remove, or find records.
  2. Navigation shortcuts that let you move between modules.
  3. Circulation command line shortcuts change screen focus between Circulation tabs.
  4. Circulation commands like R and H let you switch modes to Renewal or Hold.
Management shortcuts
/Ctrl RRemove record
/Ctrl AAdd record
/Ctrl SSave record
/Ctrl DDuplicate record
/Ctrl FFind records
Navigation Shortcuts (v7 only)
/Ctrl 1Go to Circulation
/Ctrl 2Go to Items
/Ctrl 3Go to Patrons
/Ctrl 4Go to Tools
/Ctrl 5Go to Researcher
/Ctrl 6Go to Reports
/Ctrl 0Open the Support Center
Command line navigation shortcuts
FCharges tab
FFCharges history tab
HWHomeroom tab
?Command Help tab
QPatron Details
+Patron Notes
++Copy Notes
LPatron Lookup
TTitle Lookup

Circulation Commands

See the Circulation Commands list for more!

Update your Researcher pane!

Tip for March 18, 2019

Over the weekend we released Browse, a new patron interface for browsing your collection. How do you add Browse to your Researcher? You can add a button yourself and use our icon. Or... you can import our pane!

Researcher


Import an Explore Pane

  1. Download this text file. Researcher Default Pane.txt
  2. Open your Explore Builder.
  3. From the actions menu (gear) choose Import Pane.
  4. Choose File and locate the downloaded text file. 
  5. Alexandria will import the pane; locate it under Researcher Default

Now what?

You can rename the pane. You can add things to it, change it around, whatever you want!

Customizing an existing pane? From any other pane, click Copy From Pane. Then locate the Researcher Default pane, and drag and drop buttons or icons onto your existing pane.


Remember, we have several collections of icons for you to use in Explore Builder, whether on version 7 or version 6.

Download icons from our website!


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



Tip for March 11, 2019

You are adding a new patron. You start typing in their homeroom teacher, only to realize you can't remember how to spell it. "Zie" is as far as you've got. What's next? Authority Control has you covered.

Authority Control


There isn't a visual indication that an entry field is managed by Authority Control, but as you type...

  • In version 6, type anything in the controlled field and it will pop up the list of terms.
  • In version 7, type the first three letters, and if it matches a term in Authority Control, a faint shadow text will appear with the full term. Tab out of the field to accept the suggestion, or continue typing to reject it.

But what if the suggested term is spelled wrong, like Zeigler instead of Ziegler? Clean up your terms

  1. From Tools, open Authority Control.
  2. Open the Homeroom category. 
    1. v7 - On the left, expand the Patrons category and click Homeroom.
    2. v6 - Set the dropdown menu to Homeroom.
  3. Locate the entry for the incorrect term, Zeigler, then click Edit Term. 
  4. Enter the corrections, then save. 
  5. Alexandria will update all the Zeigler terms in your Homeroom fields to Ziegler. Phew!
Which fields are Authority Controlled?

Everything you see in Authority Control. Some real handy ones besides Homeroom are:

  • Series. Clean up your series so books show up right!
  • Titles > Genre. Make the genre selection in Search and Browse much clearer!
  • Names > Authors. Modify all JRR Tolkien entries to J.R.R. Tolkien, so those books show up under the same author.
  • Medium. So that your patrons don't have to wonder why there is Book and book and BOOK-unmediated and etc. 

Spring cleaning—Weeding old items

Tip for March 4, 2019

It's time to clean up the shelves. How do you identify items for the chopping block? You can use the Weeding List report to find, say, items more than 10 years old that haven't been used in the last 10 years.


Weeding List Report


Running a Weeding List

  1. In Reports, go to the Copies category.
  2. Scroll to the bottom and select the Weeding List report.
  3. In the following fields, enter a date range to search for items that haven't been used during that period. For example, you can search from the far past (01/01/1900) to the less-far past of maybe 10 years ago (03/03/2009).
    1. v7 Copies last used between and Copies published between
    2. v6 Copy Last Used Date and Publication Year
  4. Do you have items of certain policies that are never checked out? Be sure to exclude those items.
  5. Go to Options and choose how to sort your results. Copy Call Number is set by default. 
  6. Run the report and download the PDF from Operations Management. 

Or weed by....

No usage

Look for items that have never been checked out. Enter 0 through 0 in the following fields:

  • v7 Copies with Life to Date Usage of
  • v6 Copy LTD Usage

Little usage

Look for items that have been checked out fewer than 10 times. Enter 0 through 10 in the following fields:

  • v7 Copies with Life to Date Usage of, enter 0 through 10. In the Options tab, choose to sort by LTD usage.
  • v6 Copy LTD Usage

Copies in poor condition

Enter your lowest condition, like Used, Beat Up, Dead, etc.

  • v7 Copies with a Condition of
  • v6 Copy Condition

How often do you weed? How do you do it? What criteria do you use? Do you have any tips for new librarians? Leave a comment!

On the way—On Order

Tip for February 25, 2019

Darla has a particular request. She has heard that Raina Telgemeier is about to release a new book, and she really wants to be the first one to check it out when your library receives it. Well, you won't play favorites, because that's unfair, but there is a way Darla can get in line early. 

Circulation - On Order


On Order

Sometimes vendors will send the MARC records to you before the order is shipped. When they do, you can import the records into Alexandria and assign them to the On Order system patron (barcode 5), which is used to indicate items that are in your system but are not currently available for circulation. Your patrons will be able to see the item in their search results, and they can even place a hold on it before it arrives.

Here's what you do:

  1. Import the MARC records into Alexandria.
  2. To make the records easier to find, assign them to In Processing upon import. 
    • v7 In the Options tab, check the box "Set New Copies as 'In Processing'."
    • v6 In the Item Settings tab, check the box "Set Copy Status as 'In Processing'."
  3. Go to Utilities and go to the Copies category. 
    • v7 Select the Check Out to System Patron utility.
    • v6 Select the Check Out utility.
  4. Open the Options tab.
    • v7 Set the Check Out Selected Copies to dropdown to On Order.
    • v6 Set To Patron to 5-On Order Copies.
  5. Select by accession date, then set the date you added the items. 
    • v7 Fill in the Copies Added selection. If applicable, set Copies with a Status of to In Processing.
    • v6 Add a selection for Copy Accession Date.
  6. Run the utility. Those items will now show in Researcher as On Order (according to your Auto-Hide preferences).
  7. When the order arrives, simply bookdrop the items to change their status to Available, and Alexandria will let you know if there are any holds pending. If you need additional time to process the items, check them out to In Process (barcode 7) first!


Darla and your other patrons will love being able to see that these items are coming!

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.