OPALS Updates

September 2020

Wow! A new school year, and lots of changes...

Hopefully we can address some of the new things in this Smore. If you have any other questions regarding OPALS, from adding new students to how to add new items quickly to how to access reports, check out our FAQs on OPALS. And, of course, you can email us at libraryservices@wswheboces.org!

Quarantining Items--NEW!

Did you know you can now mark quarantine items when they're returned? This is amazing! (This is brand new, so there may be aspects we don't know just yet until folks start using it.)

Laura Gray made a screencast to demonstrate how the quarantine feature works. Many thanks, Laura!

Update: Screencast on what it looks like when quarantine expires

When items have come back, you can go to the return screen, click the Quarantine check box, and you can put in a location and number of days to quarantine those items.

Laura noticed that the "return date" doesn't automatically pop up when returning items, but the default is "today", so if you don't select a return date, that should be fine. She also says you have to press quarantine each time, so I'll report that to OPALS (I know they are working on finessing and streamlining, but wanted to get this out to librarians quickly).

Document from OPALS about Quarantine feature

Observations from Laura Gray, October 2020:

Other people may have already realized this, but I found that when quarantine ends, it tells you how many books are ready to be shelved, but does not automatically take them out of quarantine. You need to manually go into reports/tools and into quarantine location to close out that quarantine timeframe.

In order to start a new Monday session of quarantine, you will need to end the quarantine session for last week's Monday. Otherwise the Monday quarantine location disappears from your dropdown box and you cannot start a new Monday location quarantine with a new end date until the old one is deleted (aka the quarantined books are reshelved).

It makes sense. I like that it is more accurate that things just magically moving over to active (even if we didn't reshelve them for whatever reason).

Patron Loads, and usernames and passwords--loads can be set to run automatically :)

If you haven't yet done so, now's the time to upload your student files to the OPALS sftp (either yourself, or have your IT folks do it). If you want to sweeten the deal for IT, you can let them know that OPALS has an option--called a chron job--that would enable IT to do the load once, and then it automatically updates on a regular basis after that. Pretty sweet!

Some of you have also asked about updating your patron files manually, on your own. That's totally fine. We just ask that you NOT email patron files to us. Transmitting student information via email is not a terrific idea in terms of privacy. If you need directions sent to you again to load csv files into the OPALS sftp portal, I can send those to you.

If you need help group editing to get students into class lists, let us know. The website OPALS FAQs includes a page on all kinds of things OPALS related.

You have the option of sending files to OPALS that have username and password fields filled in, if there's something specific you want in there.

Self-Reserve option and librarian holds (update: can do both!)

UPDATED 09/24/20 PM...OPALS fixed a bug, and now we can have the best of both worlds! You can have the orange self-reserve buttons on AND have the reserve button for librarians within a record. Many thanks to OPALS for quickly fixing and updating.

Have you possibly noticed orange "request" buttons under items in your catalog? If you like this feature, it allows users to reserve items on their own. The student or teacher would log in to OPALS on their own, browse the catalog, and click to request items they'd like.

Student view: how to reserve an item in an OPALS catalog

Librarian view: how to set up reserve, and how it works

Updated video Sept 24 2020: two different ways to reserve items

On the librarian end of things, you can click on the clock in the upper right corner (and/or go to circulation-->reserve list) to see what has been asked for. You are able to approve, reject, or print any of those items, check them out to students, and there are also tabs to let you see historically (you can choose a date range) anything active, on hold, completed, rejected, cancelled, or expired. There's a tab called "process tracking" that allows you to see historical data (and you can click on the column headers to sort...I clicked the "date request" column and was able to sort from most recent and see all of the actions on each item. Super cool.

If you tend to reserve/hold items for students by clicking on the "reserve" button that is nestled next to the MARC/edit/clone/delete buttons in a record, you can use that option as well, which does not require a student to log in...you just request the item for them.

There is a booking feature, but we don't know yet how that works. When I know, I'll let you know! It appears to be for other kinds of resources, but not sure yet how its purpose differs from reserves. Seems redundant for books, but may be helpful for kits and other things. Or maybe it isn't something that we schools need to worry about. Stay tuned.

Due Date Reassignment

You can now go to circulation-->due date reassignment to choose a date range of titles where you might like to assign a new due date. Try it out!

Pathfinders and Genre collections

Several librarians have asked this week about how to create either pathfinders or genre collections. Here are help pages on each feature, if you want to try them out. Keep in mind that library.fyi also gives you the option of creating customized content, if you want pathfinders to be more than books in your catalog!

OPALS help on Genre collections

OPALS help on Pathfinders