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!