Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Behind the scenes in Technical Services: Koha serials tweaks we like

(by Heather Hernandez, Technical Services Librarian)

We still feel very new to Koha, the software that powers our Keys Catalog of Library Materials, but we've discovered a few little features that make our serials work much more efficient.

Before I dive in, let me recommend ByWater Solutions' serials tutorials--like all their tutorials, they're great introductions and overviews.  We've found that even if the tutorial is for an earlier version of Koha, a lot of the functionality remains the same.

The first feature we've come to appreciate is the nonpublic note.  This note shows up in the staff client display of the title when the "Subscriptions" tab is selected, right above the table of received issues, for example (this is how it looks in our version of Koha,

We're recording the source of acquisition, any other separately cataloged titles arriving on that subscription, and the mailing address to which the title is sent.

Why is this all useful?

When receiving an issue of a serial, we need to record the source of acquisition in the item record that is then created, but it's not visible anywhere on that screen--putting it in the nonpublic note solves that problem.  For example, here's Sailing in the middle of receipt--after it has been received in the "receipt box" but before any fields have been filled in on the new item record.  Seeing "NPSPURCH" tells us this is a purchased subscription (as opposed to one available gratis, via a donated subscription, etc.):

Eagle-eyed readers will also notice that these two subscriptions are addressed very differently.  Why?  When there is a staff change, or a change in job duties, or for various other reasons, the person actually paying for the subscription renewal can change.  If we have a problem with the subscription it's handy to have the exact address under which it's entered, and also handy when renewing, so we can make changes at that time.

We have also found that entering vendor information, even though we don't use Koha to generate claim letters, has proven very useful.  It's a central location, easily updated, for all the contact information regarding the source of our subscription, and has proven great when claiming (via email, phone, etc.) and renewing our subscriptions.

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