Koha Tips #6

Koha – New and Updated Information No. 6           July 26, 2011   by Pat Sloan   

 Substitute Cards to Allow customer to Pay Fines

  • I mentioned how to substitute a name for a cardnumber in the No. 5 issue.  However, this doesn’t help if the customer just needs a substitute card to pay with a credit card.



Search Techniques to find Patrons

  • Use just the first 2-3 letters of a first name or even the last name to help expand the results list.  If either the first or last name is unusual, just put that name in to get a list as well.
  • Use the Advanced Patron Search – Enter first and last names in their respective fields.  This will help find names where a regular search returns too many hits to reasonably look through.

ü  Can also search by address, phone, email, almost any field.  Caution about address is variations caused by using ‘N’ or ‘N.’ for North, St vs Street, etc.



Can’t delete a message added by another branch – sign in as the other branch (and remember to go back and sign in as your branch) or send to Pat S.


Claims Returned items returned in bookdrops – don’t waive any of the charges.


Always close out of Koha at the end of the day


Not able to use override to renew or extend an item if there is a Hold on it



Question from Greg W.  —  Both the self check and the staff computer won’t check out James Patterson’s 10th Anniversary barcode 33045035428883 to patron Ryan Beiermann barcode 23045004917413.  An error message keeps coming up.


Answer from Tami B.  —  It wouldn’t check out because the book was “expected” to be picked up at BMPL.  It happens if a customer asks to pick up a book up at a different location than it was being held at.  So for example, Mr. Beiermann probably had it held at BMPL but then asked us to send it to South for pickup.  The easiest way I have found to get around this is to go into his holds, cancel that particular title, update the holds, then just check out the book as normal!

How to view reviews attached to a bibliographic record
Charlotte K. discovered this  —  Click on File in the upper left corner, then select Print Preview. Scroll past the bib record and holdings to see reviews that have been attached.  This doesn’t work for everything, but I found info from the publisher and some Amazon reviews.


Orphaned checkout record.

  • No title or barcode for an item on a customer’s checkout record.
  • This happens occasionally – the item was deleted without being checked in first, but Koha doesn’t care.  Because the item record no longer exists, the checkout record is orphaned.  We have cleared it at the table level.  We are writing some safeguards into our later code so that you can’t delete something that’s checked out.  Until you get upgraded, though, warn your staff to be careful about deleting items – make sure there are no existing checkouts.  (Info from Jane W. at PTFS)



Check-in then Checkout for same customer

From  Jodene   —  If you check-in some items for a customer and then immediately checkout some other items to the same customer it is safest to start fresh in the check out screen with their card or typing in their name instead of using the “last patron” info from the check in screen.  This will avoid any chance or checking out the items to the wrong customer.




Koha Tips #5

Koha – New and Updated Information No. 5          July 14, 2011

Substitute Cards to Allow Customer to Pay Fines

  • In Horizon we were able to give a ‘substitute card’ to a customer to allow them to make a payment on the SelfCheck.  Then we would remove that card number from their account.
  • In Koha any other card numbers assigned to an account remain on the record and can’t be deleted, and thus can’t be used again.
  • I have discovered you can actually use letters in the card number field.
  • Suggest entering the firstnamelastname  or lastnamefirstname (no spaces between names) or use their existing card number and substitute X’s for the zeros for this purpose.
  • Then you can use the Reverse to get their correct card number back in the main field.

Non-Resident Cards

  • When you renew a non-resident card the text in the Fines list appears as “Account Management Fee.”  Don’t try to change it.  That is the Koha term for non-resident fee.
  • No longer have 6-mo. or 9-mo. non-resident cards.
  • If a customer absolutely wants to pay for 6 months you would have to renew for two 3-mo. periods.  You just have to make sure the expiration date is 6 months in the future.
  • Choosing the Summer Non-Resident category automatically assesses the $5.00 Account Management Fee.  Do not writeoff this fee.

Extend Hold Time

  • If you run a Hold that is waiting to be picked up through Check-In before the expired date you will get up to a week longer. For some reason it seemed to vary a bit when I was trying it.

Claimed Returned Maximum Late Fee

  • A Claimed Returned item is basically treated as a Lost item.
  • Changing the status to Claimed Returned does not remove any accumulated late fees (unlike Horizon which did remove them).
  • When a Claimed Returned item is found the customer is charged the maximum late fee because Koha considered it Lost.
  • If the item is found in the library then it is a staff error and the late fee (and any other accumulated late fees) should be waived/writeoff.
  • Claimed Returned items do not automatically change over to Lost after 3 months (or at any period of time).  We will have to figure out how to manually do that.

Renew Column in Customer’s List of Items Checked Out

If customers renew from an OPAC it displays as  —  1 (1 via OPAC) not renewable.


Advance Notifications

  • The System Preference is set to send an individual notice for each title because it will display the due date.
  • Choosing the ‘Digest’ preference will display all the titles in one message but it will not include the due date.  Customers may choose to do this if they want it.  Both ‘Email’ and ‘Digest’ boxes must be checked.

New patrons Expiration Date

  • Koha does not have an ‘ annual address check ‘ function.
  • The Pioneer Consortium agreed to have new cards expire in one year which is a System Preference setting.  This will act in a similar fashion to the annual address check.
  • Go to the More button and select Renew.  New date is automatically set.
  • Records migrated from Horizon still have expiration dates way in the future and we’ll have to figure out how we can change those.

Glitch in Hold Limit of 25

  • When using the staff client the limit of 25 Holds is effective.  The total includes items in any format.
  • Customers who place Holds remotely (from home or office) also have a limit of 25.
  • However we discovered several customers who have more than 25 Holds on their accounts.  The answer from Jane at PTFS is:
    • Whether they’re logged in at the library or not shouldn’t make any difference.  There are some IP limiters based on in-house workstations, but you’re not configured to use them.  However, there are a couple of known workarounds to the limits.  If you have public lists, you can check multiple items on the list and then click Place Hold.  You can do the same by adding items to your Cart, then opening the cart, selecting multiple items, and clicking Place Hold.  Both of those features bypass the hold limitations, and it’s possible some of your users have figured that out.
    • This is something we may want to include in future development.

Searching by Patron Name – to avoid starting a duplicate record

  • To broaden your search to get more results (a list of possible names) use just the first 2 or 3 letters of the first name.
  • Examples:    patron fa    or     fa patron   (notice you don’t need a comma after the last name.
  • This displays a list of anyone with the last name of ‘Patron’ and first names that start with ‘Fa’.  I would also display any that had a middle name starting with ‘Fa’.
  • Use this whenever you are searching to see if a customer has a library card.


Cancel Holds

  • Sometimes the easiest way to cancel or clear a Hold from a customer’s list is to simply check it out to them and then immediately check it in.

More Koha Tips

Koha – New and Updated Information No. 4          July 8, 2011


From Pat Sloan, Circulation Librarian

Messages and Circulation Notes

  • There are 2 different ways to put notes on a customer’s record.  They both are visible on the Checkout screen – in red print.
  • Messages – can add or delete only at the Checkout Tab screen.

ü  Click on ‘Add a new message’

ü  Be sure ‘Add a message for: ‘ box says ‘Other Librarians’

ü  Under ‘Predefined notes’ you may use the drop-down menu to select one of the pre-determined common notes such as, fresh start, Internet use permitted, address is out-of-county, has another card with charges, etc.

ü  If you are adding a note that doesn’t fall under one of the pre-defined categories, you just start entering the information in the box.  The date and your branch will automatically be added.

ü  Be complete with the message so other will understand it, click on the Save box, and finish with your initials.

ü  You can’t edit or add to an existing message.

ü  To delete a message just click on ‘Delete’ after the message.

  • Circulation Notes – can add or delete only at the Details Tab.

ü  To add, click on the ‘Edit’ button above the patron name or on the ‘Edit’ in blue under the ‘Library Use’ category on the right, following the OPAC Password entry.

ü  Be sure to select the ‘Circulation Note’ box which can be seen only by staff (unless you turn the screen around for the customer, so be careful!).

ü  Start with the date, enter the information, and end with your initials and branch.

ü  To delete – use the edit as above and either backspace or highlight and delete the text.

ü  If you add more info the next note will just start immediately after the text for the first note ends.

  • Note or Message to the Borrower

ü  To leave a message specifically for the borrower, do the same as above but chose the customer’s name rather than ‘Other Librarians’.

ü  To leave a note specifically for the borrower, do the same as above but use the OPAC note box.


Holds Are Held for 7 Days

  • Holds are held for 7 days.  When the Hold expires, it automatically says ‘available’ in the catalog unless it goes on to another customer.
  • The email Hold Notification tells the customer the expiration date.

Debarred / Restricted Customer – has 2 or more cards

  • Please notify Pat Sloan of any customers who appear to have 2 or more cards.
  • I will put messages on both records that give the name and amount owed (if any) for the other records.
  • I will then use the Patron Account Flag section under the Detail Tab to mark them as ‘debarred’.
  • On the Checkout Tab the following will appear under the customer’s name.

                      Cannot Check Out!

                              Restricted: Patron’s account is restricted

  • If the problem is solved, especially about 2 or more cards, please notify Pat Sloan.


Account Management Fee and Non-Residents

  • When renewing a record for a Non-Resident, select the More Button and then select Renew.
  • This will automatically add either $15 for 3-month Non-Resident or $60 for 12-month Non-Resident to their Fines Tab
  • It appears with the text ‘Account Management Fee’

Lost vs. Lost and Paid For

  • In the item level record in the catalog – under the Statuses section – Lost Status, there is a drop down menu with some selections.  One of them is ‘Lost’ and there is also a ‘Lost and Paid For’.   Always use the plain ‘Lost’ status.  Do not ever use ‘Lost and Paid For’.

Claimed Returned and Overdue Notices

  • When an item’s status is changed to ‘Claimed Returned’ the customer will continue to receive overdue notices.  The Claimed Returned status is part of the group of ‘Lost’ statuses (as is the Trace status).  At this time it still triggers the overdue notice to be sent.
  • On the Checkout Tab the Claimed Returned item is listed as a Lost item – Claimed Returned appears at the end of the message.

Zen and the Art of ILS Migration

There are a number of presentations and other news that came out of the 2011 Kudos Conference held May 2-3, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin.  Here’s one and more to follow:  http://www.slideshare.net/druthb/zen-and-the-art-of-ils-migrationkudoscon-2011

By the way, Jane Wagner, the Pioneer Project Director from PTFS is pictured on the next to last slide.  Kind of nice to see her since this was produced by ByWater Solutions.

Getting a 3M self-check to work with Koha

Changes made to the 3M Self Check Machines to work with Koha.

  1. Login to 3M Self Check System Administration  web page.
  2. Select the network menu
  3. Scroll down to “Host Communications” and change
    1. Communication Type “Telnet”
    2. TCP Port “8041”
    3. Host Name or IP “” (This is the test SIP server IP)
    4. Scroll down to the 3M Command Center (CIMS) and click “Save Changes”
    5. Scroll down to “Send/Expect Scripts”  and click “Edit Login Send/Expect”

(in b and c below replace XXXX with your location code, see below)

  1. Click “Menu+”
    1.  Send String (leave blank)
    2. Expect String “login:”
    3. Timeout “30”
    4. Retries “3”
    5. Click “Add”
  2. Click “Menu+”
    1. Send String “XXXXsip\r”
    2. Expect String “password:”
    3. Timeout “30”
    4. Retries “3”
    5. Click “Add”
  3. Click “Menu+”
    1. Send String “XXXXsip\r”
    2. Expect String “Login OK.  Initiating SIP” (note 2 spaces after “OK.”)
    3. Timeout “30”
    4. Retries “” (or 3 works as well)
    5. Click “Add”