Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Fun: Reports

Reports? Fun?!? Well, maybe not, but I hope that this spreadsheet will make them a little easier to use. The spreadsheet lists all the reports in the Jeffco folder (Public Folders > Jeffco), grouped by sub-folder. For each report I've included the following information:
  • Sub-folder-- Borrowers, Circulation Activity, etc.
  • Report title
  • Date range specific indication-- whether or not you can specify as date range when you run the report
  • Responsible party selection option-- whether or not you can run the report for just a particular responsible party's class
  • Prompts-- the selection criteria you are offered when you run the report
  • Description-- what you'll get when you run the report
The spreadsheet opens in list view, which makes it easy to sort and filter to find what you need. You can also search the spreadsheet by hitting control-F or selecting Find... from the menu (which menu depends on what browser you're using). Another handy feature--in the Report Title column, click the down arrow next to "(All)" to see an alphabetical list of all reports. Select a title to see the info for that report; select All to restore the full list. Don't worry, I've set the spreadsheet to View Only, so you can't delete anything!

You may notice that there are 102 reports in the list. Yikes! No wonder it can be hard to find what you need. One reason for this is that you all have many different needs, and the reports have generally been written to meet only a few specific needs. So we need lots of reports! There are over 400 reports in Public Folders altogether, which may make you feel better about our measly 102. 

One way you can make your life easier is to save the reports you use often to your My Folders section of Reports. Here are instructions for how to do that (click here to see instructions with pictures): 
  1. Find the report you want to save, and click the More... link to the right of the icons for the report. 

  2. Click the Create a report view of this report... link. Make sure you create a report view rather than just copying the report - this will ensure that if the report is updated, you'll get the updated version.

  3. Click the My Folders radio button to save the report view to your My Folders. You can also change the name of the report if you wish - this will only change the name in your My Folders tab.

  4. Click Finish. The system will return you to the Jeffco folder you saved the report from; click on your My Folders tab to see your newly minted report view.
There you have it. Then you can go to your My Folders for the reports you use most often.

One final note: TLC has been busy creating an upgrade to the Reports Manager. From the scuttlebutt I hear, the new Reports Manager will be easier to use, and the reports will be consolidated and cleaned up. We'll be implementing this over the summer (there are some behind-the-scenes hardware upgrades that need to happen, too, so it's more complicated than flipping a switch). Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to the end of the year.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rush Cataloging site update

It's been over two years since we started the Rush Cataloging service, so it seemed like time to give the site a little revamp. The content of the site is still the same, though I've pared it down and hopefully made it a little easier to navigate.

What is this rush cataloging service, you say? It's a remote cataloging service, a way for Jeffcat to create full records for books (or DVDs, curriculum materials, what-have-you) you receive that you need to circulate right away but that don't have records in TLC already. Basically you give us information about the item through a Google form, and we use that info to create a record. The form even includes the barcode number, so once we've cataloged it, it's ready to check in and circulate at your location. With this service, we limit the number of on-the-fly records cluttering up the database, and you get full cataloging in a timely manner. We usually manage a same-day turn around time. (Remember you can still use OTFs for equipment.)

And apparently the service is filling a growing need. The first year (2011) we had 315 requests; last year we had 520. This year we're already up to 106. We're glad to find the service is useful. Keep 'em coming!

Now for the more-than-you-ever-wanted-know-about-cataloging portion of this post. The reason we can offer this service is that we subscribe to a ginormous international database called OCLC (you've probably heard of the public version, WorldCat). Libraries and book vendors all over the world contribute to this database, which to date contains 288,372,962 records and 1,966,035,857 holdings (records=discrete titles; holdings=each library that owns a copy of a title). Is that what trillions looks like? Yikes! So when you send us the information for a book, we look it up in this gigantic database (usually by ISBN), and usually we find it. Someone else has already done the hard work of the original cataloging; we just pull the record into our database, make sure it looks spiffy, and add your barcode to it. Pretty slick, huh?

Now it does happen that sometimes we don't find a match in OCLC. Hard to believe, with those billion-trillion records, but it's true. Most of the time the item is some kind of curriculum material or one of those pesky Scholastic sold-only-at-bookfairs books. When we don't find a match in OCLC, we can often cobble together a record using publishers' websites, previous editions, or additional information from you. On rare occasions, we just get stumped and have to ask you to send us the item. But rarely! We're pretty good at sleuthing. It's all part of the cataloging magic.



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jeffcat survey: we want your input!

Have you had a chance to fill out Jeffcat's training survey? We hope you will, whether you're a teacher librarian or library paraprofessional. We're looking at how we can better serve you, and your input is essential to this process! Based on the results we've received so far, the demand is greatest for online and self-paced training. However, the topics are all over the map! Please click on the link above and give us your feedback about what kinds of training/information you'd like to see for TLC, cataloging, and all things Jeffcat.

And for you grammar geeks... Happy Grammar Day! (A day late, d'oh!) Check out the Grammarly blog for some hilarious grammar gaffs (scroll down to see the pics). I love this stuff!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Changing your Book River

My apologies for being out of the blog loop for, well, quite a while! Thanks to Susie Lackey for nudging me to post again with this new information.

I know many of you have been somewhat frustrated with, or just plain confused by, what flows across the book river on your public access catalogs (PACs, the student look-up stations). You might see just one book cover, or you might see a cover for a book that isn't even in your library. What gives?

I'll explain a few of these oddities in a minute, but first, the solution! You can publish your own set of items to your book river (don't worry, it will only display on yours, not the whole district's) by using the My Saved Searches feature. I've posted detailed instructions to the Jeffcat website for how to do this. If you run into problems with saving a search, click the Help link on the upper right of the LS2 PAC screen to open the LS2 PAC help site, and look for "Save Searches." If you have more questions about the book river, click on the Configuration Admin Help button on the My Saved Searches screen (you'll only see this when you login with your staff ID).

I've set up all the teacher librarians with administrative rights to publish to the book river at their school(s). Library paraprofessionals don't have admin rights to the book river (we can only manage so many administrative logins!). If you're a TL and you don't see the "publish to book river" icon on My Saved Searches, let me know. It's possible (anything's possible!) that I missed you. Easy to remedy.

Now, if you're a super-geek like me, you've been reading all this time just to find out why the book river acts strangely sometimes. So here you go. The default for the book river is to display the most recent month of "new" titles at your location. TLC defines "new" as a title new to the entire district, not just a title new to your collection. So you may see only a few titles if you a) haven't purchased much lately, or b) haven't purchased titles new to the district (don't feel bad, upwards of 80% of our collections overlap!). For those of you who have contacted me about this in the past, I set your book river to show everything new at your location for the last 6 months. If you publish your own search to your book river, that will override the default I put in place.

Finally, what about those anomalous books that flow across your book river on occasion? That happens when a title has no holdings/items attached to it at all, by any of our libraries. Books with no items will show up on everyone's book river. Why would we have titles with no items in our database, you ask? It can happen when the last owner discards their copy, or if it's a brand-new book we're cataloging in Jeffcat and we haven't gotten to adding holdings yet. On occasion, we'll forget to add a dummy Jeffcat item to new reviewed book list books, so those may show up. We've been working to minimize this problem; we delete titles with no items once a week, or more often if you alert us to an issue. By publishing your own search to your book river, you can do an end-run around this problem, and tailor your book river to your student population. Have fun!