Thursday, January 25, 2018

Using LibraryWorld for Textbook Management

At the request of our customers a few years ago, we implemented several features to help manage textbook distribution and tracking.   Although often used by schools to track textbooks being distributed to classrooms, it has also become popular in special libraries to track items being distributed to different departments.  Here is  a detailed description on how it works. 

First,  you need to catalog your textbooks.   Use the ‘New’ command in the Catalog module to create a new title.   Looking up textbooks from the built-in Z39.50 Web client may not be as successful as normal material, but worth a try.  If you do not get a hit, briefly enter bibliographic information.  Since the book will not be used in a normal library manner, the brief record should do well;  enter ISBN, title, author and perhaps publication information.  

Next, use the Add Copy command when viewing the record to add a copy.  Make sure you use a consistent location field such last ‘TEXTBOOK ROOM’ or even ’TBR’ or something similar to indicate the book is in the textbook collection area.   Place a barcode label on the book and make sure it matches the online barcode for the copy.   The call number can be simply the first eight characters of the title.  Again, this will not be shelved in a normal manner.  Last, use the ‘Save and Add Another Copy’ button to quickly add another copy to the same title and repeat. 

Now that you have all the titles and copies cataloged with the Location field consistent with the value ‘TBR’ or something similar, you are ready to start distributing your collection.    Take a set of copies, go to the circulation module and click on the Location button.   You will be prompted for a location. Enter the location the books will be sent to. This could be a classroom, teacher’s name, class subject or perhaps combination ‘SMITH 101 BIO’. Then simply using the scanner to scan each copy’s barcode.   The  location field in the copy record will be changed from ’TBR’ to ‘SMITH 101 BIO’.   There is  no due date, policies or other normal circulation activity done, you are simply changing the location field.   

So how does tracking work?  If  you go to the Reports module, there is a special report called ‘Textbook Summary by Location’ which if you run with a find set on the title,  you will  get a report displaying how many copies are in each location.  If all your titles in the library are textbook, then the report can display all titles with the number of copies in each location.   

Checking textbooks back in at the end of the school year or period is the reverse of signing them out.   Go to the Circulation module and click on the Location button.  Enter the ‘TBR’ name or what ever you used, and just start scanning.   The location of the scanned items will be updated to ‘TBR’.   After all the books are changed, you can then run the Textbook report and discover which copies are outstanding and their locations.  If there are copies outstanding you can find the catalog record and it will display which specific copies  (barcode numbers) are still missing.  

Taking it to the next level.  You can track not only which copies are assigned to a class, but also to a specific student.   After assigning the textbooks to a class, you can then checkout the book to a student.  Using the Temp Due date to assign the due date to the end of the school year or class period, will bypass the traditional circulation policies.    This might be difficult at the central textbook room, but the teacher could write down the barcode number of the copy next to a students name when distributing. They can simply send that back to you for the normal check out process.  This might be more control then necessary, but does provide two levels of tracking; by location and by student.  

We are pleased that the textbook tracking features in LibraryWorld are now being used by hundreds of school and special libraries.