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Best Practices - Equipment

Equipment

Alexandria is perfect for inventorying and circulating equipment!  Depending upon how you circulate your equipment, you will need to do some planning before you start the process.

Consider the following:

• Are you concerned with detailed usage statistics for your equipment?

• Do you want to have several different checkout periods for equipment such as one day, two weeks, for the school year or permanently based upon the type of equipment?

• Do you want to check out equipment to all patrons, teachers only, to a room, or all of the above depending upon the type of equipment?

• How complicated to you want to make cataloging the equipment?

• Will alert notes help in certain situations?

Setting Equipment Policies Effectively

  • Since statistics are collected by policies, determine just how detailed you want those statistics to be.  For instance, if boom boxes and TV/VCR combo carts check out for 1 day, do you need separate policies for boom boxes and TV/VCR combo carts or will a single policy such as Equipment - 1 wk policy suffice?

  • If only a certain group such as teachers is allowed to check out the equipment on a particular policy, then the policy or policies should reflect the checkout privileges given to the majority of your patrons for that policy.  So, if only teachers can check out overheads, then the Loan period on the policy used for overheads is set to No Loan Period.  Use the Exception button when you have the policy for Teachers on the one side and the overhead policy on the Item Policy side, then, make the exceptions to allow teachers to check out the items for the desired length of time.

  • Using the example of overhead projectors again, if you don't care when the item is checked out, but you want them in on a specific day at the end of the school year, then you must decide whether to use a Hard Due Date for that policy which you will have to change at the beginning of the new school year or to use the Override Date command each time you check one of the items on that policy out.  Obviously, using the Hard Due Date feature takes much less time.

  • Sometimes, it may be better to check out some pieces of equipment to a room instead of a teacher.  For instance, if a TV/VCR combo cart has been placed in the second floor workroom for use by all teachers on the second floor and there is no elevator in the school, the chances of getting the equipment back downstairs is nil.  No particular teacher is responsible for it, so checking it out to the Second Floor Workroom makes sense.  To make this scenario work, you would need to establish a Patron policy called Room and set up patrons with the last name of the room to which you want to check out the piece of equipment.  You will also want to use the Policy Exception feature with the combination of Patron policy for Room and the Item policy governing that type of equipment to set the Transaction Period for 9999 days.

Patron Management

  • If you are going to check out equipment to teachers, then make patron records for each of your teachers and have them on a policy that permits checking out equipment.  This can be accomplished by using the Policy Exception mode.

  • If you want to check out equipment to rooms, make a Patron record for each room and use the policy that you have set up for rooms.  Again, you will use the Policy Exception mode to enable "Room" patrons to check out equipment.

  • Remember that you can use both teachers' names and rooms as patrons.

Cataloging the Equipment

  • Determine how detailed you want your equipment item records to be.  For instance, is it really necessary to have Eiki Overhead as a title or would Overhead be sufficient if you record the Make, Model, Serial Number and District number on the Copy Notes tab for the individual piece of equipment?  This method would prevent "catalog clutter" and still give you all the information -- and you usually only need the make, model and serial number if the equipment is missing.  In a central union situation, each school's overheads could be cataloged using the number or school abbreviation after the equipment title (e.g. Overhead - 412 or Overhead - BHS) which keeps all the items of that type for that school together and separate from another school's equipment.

  • Use the Copy Number as part of the call number to make inventory easier.  For example OH-1 for the first overhead, OH-2 for the second.  The overheads may be shelved in call number order making it easy to see which one(s) are missing or out. (HINT:  If you do not have a portable device or wireless scanner for doing inventory, have a sheet with the barcodes for the overheads on it, note which one(s) are missing at inventory, then scan the barcodes of the ones on the shelf.)

Consider whether or not Copy Alert Notes would be helpful with a particular type of equipment.  Using the example of a set of computer probes for measuring in scientific experiments, the kit might contain 6 or 7 probes.  You would want to check to make certain all are there as you check the set in and out.  In this situation, a Copy Alert Note that is the same as the Contents Note for the item would be very helpful.  For an overhead projector, a Copy Alert Note would not have much value.

  • If you do not want the item records for your various equipment items to be seen by the patrons when they are using the Researcher, check the Do Not Show in Researcher box on the Items record's Publication tab and Save the record.

Circulating Your Equipment

  • If you have chosen to make the transaction periods using the Items policy, then you may proceed as usual.

If you have chosen to use Override Dates, then, you will need to enter an override date before you scan the item barcode.  Remember to use the Clear command to clear the override date when you have finished.

"I've been pleased with Alexandria ever since we bought the program. Tech support has been great and I like the fact that I can call at all hours, even when working late and get a human to help me."
—Vicki Reed
San Diego County Office of Education
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