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Date displays in the brief citation lists

I counter-attacked a problem this week that had been bugging me a while.







The brief citation display we used to have for a number of our records was misleading people who saw dates (on the right, under the book graphic) such as “2006-” which was what displayed for serial book records.  (You don’t see that in the example for the reason explained below.)  People overlooked the hyphen and assumed the date of the title was 2006 instead of realizing that was when the entire series began.  Faculty kept asking us to update titles which were already up-to-date.

We used serial records for control reasons, which made it easier to track and update them.  But the date in the 260 subfield c was what displays in the catalog, and that was the series starting date followed by a hyphen to indicate the series was still continuing.

So, I experimented and proposed to the staff, after some discussion, that we begin putting the date of the latest edition at the end of that subfield.  Example: |c2006-2016  [latest edition owned]

Yes, that is cataloging heresy, but the result is shown above, since the ending date is displayed and the text is ignored.  The latest edition now appears.

We’ll have to update this field every time we add a new edition, but it’s a small price to pay to make it easier for people to understand the catalog.  If you go to the individual record, the  [latest edition owned] is visible so it explains to the lay user what the date really means.

Progress is often incremental.  This week, I incremented.



Star SP542 printers and our manual

[updated 4/19/2008 — see below]

I’ve put up a page for our new Star Micronics SP542 printers that have been added to the two circulation workstations. Software settings for Millennium, for the printer software, for Windows printer settings, and so on.
We have finally retired the old Gaylord Model C card chompers, may they rest in well-deserved peace. I’ve trained a lot of people on them (here and at my previous job/library) and they were great in their time, but I’m not sad to see them go now. I’m not nostalgic about no longer hearing that loud noise they make when they jam, either….

With some parameter setting, I’ve gotten the Stars to print out a list of everything each patron checks out on our Innovative Interfaces Inc. ‘Millennium’ system, when the checkout is completed as a date due slip. We elected to do everything on one slip, rather than one item per printout. The Fort Smith Public Library does it the same way, and it saves paper. The function is built into the Millennium software, plus setting up things in the printer software and Windows.

I also experimented with using it to print out receipts for payment of fines, etc. We are required to use something with sequentially numbered receipts, which has restricted us to handwriting in multi-carbon receipt books up to now. I found trial software which will allow us to print out everything we should need, AND sequentially number it automatically, but we still need to get the arrangement approved formally before we license the software and proceed, if that happens. It is possible to do it, however. The software has no connection to our Millennium system (since Millennium doesn’t have the sequential numbering as of Release 2006) but it’s not too hard to type in the info, scan in the barcode of the patron, and print enough copies automatically. One copy for the patron, one for us, one for the accountants. All originals, since it’s cheaper to print multiple copies for the occasional receipt, than to use multi-copy paper all the time for date due slips.

The possibility of using the printers for receipts, which need to last a long time, is why we went with the SP542s rather than a thermal printer. Our experiences with thermal printers is that, without a ribbon, the thermal print fades over time. We can’t have that happen with financial records if we want to get approval for this system. The SP542s are dot matrix printers using ribbons.

[update 4/19/2008]

We’ve had some trouble with both of these printers after several months use.  I think I’ve narrowed down the problem, however.

They have a design flaw regarding how difficult it is to clean them.

The standard paper rolls (same ones used in calculators) used in these always has the possibility of trim fragments coming off, and the cutter action tends to create a lot more.  All these bits and pieces go down inside, and eventually jam or trip a sensor and the printer signals Windows that it’s “busy”.  Windows, of course, refuses to forget that message and won’t print until you fix the printer and reboot the computer.

So, I turned off the bidirectional capability, and opened up the older printer, shook it out, picked out pieces, vacuumed it (carefully!) and put it back in use.  Still not working.

When I open the printer, I can flip up the cutter mechanism, and remove the ribbon.  Under that is a plate, held down by one tiny (about #4) sheet metal screw, and some places where it snaps in.  I finally opened that up (last thing before sending it back to the vendor), carefully removing the little spindle that turns the ribbon, which is held in place by it, and lo — LOTS of fragments still inside.  So, cleaned those out, replaced the spindle, and the plate, and all, and got it back in action.  The older one still slowly blinks red — which seems to indicate it hasn’t reset after replacing the paper roll, according to the manual — but it’s printing again.  I’d about given up on it.  The newer one also needed cleaning, but it’s red light is now off and it’s behaving itself.  So far.

I call this a design flaw because it is not simple to remove this plate — it’s rather awkward, and takes a little maneuvering, but it comes out — and it will need to be done every month or so from now on.  Remember the little drawer in the old Gaylord book chargers, that you just yanked out and dumped?  Well, that’s the single thing about those that should have been copied by Star.  At least, they should have made it easier to get into the areas you need to clean.  Not a fatal flaw, but one that should have been addressed in the design, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion).

So far, I’d still recommend these, but I’d warn buyers that they’ll have to do regular cleaning like this.