Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Circulation Policies

We often receive questions about how circulation works or why a certain due date is coming up. When creating a library the default circulation date is set to two weeks from checkout.   However, you can change that using three specific settings, temp due date, circulation policies and the global due date.  

The temp due date sets a due date for the specific items you are checking out and ignores the circulation policy settings. You can even set a temp due date in the past to force items overdue or to test your overdue fine policies. To set the temp due date go to the Circulation module and click on the ‘Temp Due Date’ button. A form will appear.  Enter the date and click the submit button.  Make sure you enter the date in the correct format:  YYYY-MM-DD.  You’ll see the date appear in the button bar at the top. All items checked out will now be set to be returned on that date. Remember to turn the temp due date off when you are done by clicking the ‘Clear Temp Due Date’ button.

Circulation policy settings provide many ways to set the due date based on a variety of variables including location, collection, patron and record types. To set circulation loan policies click on ‘Settings’ and then ‘Policies’ from the library home page. The Circulation Policies page will appear. There are three main sections.   

The first, Default Values, sets the defaults for loan period, fine amount, hold period, and maximum number of checkouts and overdues.  There are also options for displaying an alert page when checking in an overdue item, setting the fine amount to the price of the item and using a ‘beep’ sound when an overdue item is checked in.   The default circulation policies and fines are used when no matches are found in the ‘Patron Type Limits’ or ‘Loan and Fine Policies’ sections.

The second section deals with limits by patron type.  Here you can set the maximum number of loans and overdues for each type of patron. If a patron exceeds the maximum number of items, then circulation is no longer available to that patron.

The third main section allows for custom policies for loan length and fine amount for a variety of fields, such as a specific branch, location, collection, patron and record type within the library.

Under the ‘Settings’ link there is a calendar feature that allows you to set the days and dates that the library is closed. The program includes all days when calculating the due date – regardless of whether the library is open or closed on those days.  The dates entered on the Calendar page are used to prevent the program from charging fines for closed days or assigning a due date that falls on a closed day.  If, when calculating the due date, it lands on one of the closed days, then the due date will be moved to the next non-skipped day. Fines are NOT charged for days that the library is closed.

There is also a Global Due Date setting on the Calendar page.  If set, this determines the latest possible due date that can be assigned.  This is useful, for example, to make sure all of the items are returned before the end of the school year.  The global due date overrides all of the default policies and circulation policies.  When you check out an item, the program compares the calculated due date (from your policies) to the global due date and then assigns the earlier of the two.  

If, when you are checking out items, a due date is assigned that doesn’t seem correct, these are some recommended steps.  First see if there is a temp due date set.  If so, clear it and try again.  Check to see if there is a global due date set on the Calendar page.  Depending on what you find you may need to correct or remove it.  Next, look at the circulation policies.  Are the policies simple to understand and is there one that matched the checkout? If not, then look at the default settings.

At first glance, all of the circulation policy settings may seem confusing. However, once you understand how they work and interact together you can set them to insure that all items are being checked out for the correct number of days and any patrons with overdue items are being charged the correct fine amounts.  If you have any further questions about using the circulation policy features, please contact our Technical Support team at custserv@libraryworld.com.