Welcome to a new school year!
Happy fall! It's good to be back in the swing. (Here at BOCES, Karin Howansky in SLS and Alicia Makenzie in MultiMedia are also teacher-librarians like many of you, so we are also dusting off the summer brains as we get back into routines.) We have some new folks in WSWHE, some folks who changed districts, and a couple of places currently in flux. If you have any questions regarding OPALS, from adding new students to how to add new items quickly to how to access reports, check out our OPALS choice board and save a copy of it as a quick reference. And, of course, you can email Karin at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our LibGuide.
Time for annual student/patron Loads...
If you wish to update your students 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 secure. If you need directions sent to you again to load csv files into the OPALS sftp portal, Karin can send those instructions to you. If you aren't sure who does this in your district, you can ask us to help you find out.
If you need help group editing to get students into class lists, the OPALS choice board has instructions and a video to help with that. If you hit a snag, email Karin and we'll help you out.
Google SSO Option
Are you also interested in Google Authentication for your OPALS catalog? Email Karin for more information. It's another piece that we have to work with your IT folks to make happen, but it's a pretty easy process. Hint: Having student Google IDs (the part that looks like a Gmail address) in the email field makes it a piece of cake...and it works for you, too, once it's turned on.
Why have Google SSO? It allows students to be able to self reserve and self renew on their own without having to know another login. (We can also help you create logins for each student, if Google SSO isn't a viable option in your building.)
Self-Reserve option vs librarian holds
Have you spotted 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. (We can either help you create logins, or you can work with us to turn on Google SSO.) If you don't want this feature, we can turn it off, too.
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. It's great for keeping track of holds on popular items without having to keep a paper list behind the circulation desk. The catalog will alert you when an item comes in that is being reserved for the next person who wants it.
There is also a booking feature option available for other kinds of things. I haven't yet played with it, but if you're curious and want to experiment to see how it might differ from self-reserve (it might be useful for booking multiple copies, or for non-book items like Makerspace items), talk to Karin.
Pathfinders and Genre collections
Several librarians have asked in the past 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