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Import

Add information to Alexandria from outside sources, such as MARC records, book vendors, or patron information from a central database. The Imports interface places everything you need to quickly find, modify, and run an import of patron, item, or image data.

To access it directly, add /import to the end of your Alexandria URL.

Import Video Playlist

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Import FAQs

This page contains the general information for setting up, saving, and running imports. For more detailed instructions, see the pages for the specific import types. You can also review the Complete Imports List at the bottom of this page.

Import Patrons

Import Items

Import Textbooks

Import Images

Welcome to Imports—let’s learn all you need to know!

First, let’s review best practices for running imports. 

  • We recommend that you schedule imports when Alexandria is not busy, because large imports can slow down your system. This also makes it easier to track down any problems later on, as it isolates activity during that time.
  • Files should be smaller than 50 MB. 
  • The format of the file may be MARC, MicroLIF, or tab-delimited. In the case of tab-delimited, we recommend using Item Field Mapping. Otherwise, you’ll need to manually adjust it by clicking Field Mapping for each import.
  • Create Saved Imports to save the settings you use most often, including Field Mapping (v7 only).
Table of Contents
  • Categories. The left-hand side of the window is home to the Categories pane, which contains your default import types. Select a category to view its import options and settings to the right.
  • Import Selection pane. The upper-right section of the window contains the Import Selection pane, which dynamically changes depending on whether you have the Quick or Saved tab selected.
  • Import details pane. The bottom-right area of the window contains settings for the currently selected import in various tabs.
Quick vs Saved?
You can run an import without saving anything. Simply choose the import type you need, upload a file, and import. However, if you are making any complicated settings (usually for patron or item imports), you run the risk of losing your setup. We highly recommend creating a saved import. Name it something descriptive, and save time when you come back to do the same thing again next year!
Quick Imports

The Quick tab contains import templates that do not store custom settings. They’re mainly used for running one-time imports or as a foundation for custom Saved imports. Any modifications made to a particular import are discarded immediately upon clicking on another category. However, if you would like to save the Quick report you’ve just modified, click Create Saved Import at the bottom of the Selected Import pane. After adjusting the default name (optional), your new import—including custom settings—will be added to the Saved tab.

Selecting an import type from the Categories pane means the Selected Import pane will only import records of that type. For example, if you select Patrons from the Categories pane, you will only be able to import patron records.

Selecting an import type automatically populates the bottom portion of the window (i.e. the Selected Import pane) which contains import information in the Settings and Options tabs. These tabs contain different settings depending on the category you’ve selected.

Imports run from the Quick tab are considered “one-off”; any modifications made to the Settings and Options tabs are discarded immediately after switching to another import category. For example, if you have the Patrons import type selected and then click on the Items category, all information that you may have modified or provided to the Patrons import will be lost; even if you were to immediately return, you would find all your settings wiped.

Drag and drop
Drag an import file from your computer and drop it in the Imports pane for a quick and easy import!
Saved Imports

The Saved tab contains custom imports that you (or others) have created, saved, and shared. Saved imports store the selection criteria that was used to create it, not the import file itself. However, you can set it up to import a specific file from your FTP server, allowing operators to schedule recurrent imports with minimal initial setup time.

Changing the frequency of imports is quick and easy. For example, you can set it up to import new patron records and update existing patron records monthly, weekly, or even daily—no need to prepare reports or request downloadable import files from the office or technical support staff. Manual entry of fines and overdue statistics have become a thing of the past.

A significant amount of time can be spent manually adding new patrons throughout the school year. Computer technicians and librarians often require time-saving procedures when it comes to importing patron (or item) information. Using the Saved pane, operators can automatically update your patron/item information using files from the SIS (School Information System).

The Saved pane facilitates automatic data import functionality and allows operators to simply schedule recurrent imports; only requiring a small amount of initial setup time—changing the frequency of imports is quick and easy. Imagine new patrons added and existing patron records updated monthly, weekly, or even daily if required. No further need to request downloadable import files from the office or technical support staff. No more reports to prepare for the office staff; manual entry of fines and overdue statistics become a thing of the past.

The Saved tab stores the selection criteria that was used to create the custom import. The results in the Saved Imports list reflect the import type selected from the Categories pane and can be further refined by the Filter bar. For example, if you select Patrons from the import Categories pane, the Import Selection pane will only display Saved patron imports.

Selecting a Saved import from the Import Selection pane automatically populates the Selected Import pane, which contains import settings that are essential to what and how information is imported. Once a Saved import has been selected, it can then be performed, modified, duplicated, or removed.

  • Create a new import by selecting your import type (from the list of Categories), then pressing Create Saved Import at the bottom of the window, or the plus (+) button.
  • Duplicate an existing saved import using the actions menu.
  • Remove a saved import from the actions menu.
  • Rename a saved import using the Overview tab.
  • When you have completed all the set-up steps—and double-checked your work—you can initiate an import by pressing the Run button at the bottom.
  • When viewing saved imports, you can Filter by import name, or by favorites or operator.

Imports are not an operation to be run lightly. Be sure that you understand the different settings and options for the import you are running. If you have any concerns, try running an import on a limited set of data (e.g. 5 patrons instead of 100), and remember you can always contact our support team!

Set up the generic information and behavior of this import when it runs.

  • Name. Provide or edit the name of your Saved import here. This shows in Operations Management so it’s helpful for this to be descriptive; you may even want to include your site name, or import purpose. For example, Item Import – WHS – Fix Call Numbers.
  • Created. Displays the name and site ID code of the operator who created the Saved import. It cannot be edited.
  • Notes. Provide general usage notes about the import here (e.g. Only perform this import at the end of each month!).
  • Favorite. Save this import to your favorites list for easy access.

Schedule

The Schedule tab—useful only for Saved imports—lets you set imports to run in the future. For instance, let’s say that you wanted to run a certain import every Friday at 5:00am. Using the Frequency drop-down menu, select Weekly; from the On drop-down menu, select Friday; finally, using the At fields, enter 5 and AM.

The scheduled time is the time the import is added to your Operations queue. Depending on how busy your queue is, the import may or may not be complete at that exact time.

  • Schedule. Check this box to unlock the Saved report scheduling capabilities.
  • Frequency. This drop-down menu allows you to specify how often you would like to repeat your Saved report. You can select Once, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly from this drop-down menu. Secondary On options may dynamically appear, depending on your selection.
    • Once. This options allows you to use the Date Picker “” to select a date.
    • Daily. There are no secondary options available for this selection.
    • Weekly. This selection will repeat the report every week on a Monday—Sunday of your choosing.
    • Monthly. This selection will repeat the report once a month on a specific day—from the 1st through the 31st—of your choosing.
    • Yearly. This selection (limited to one year) will repeat the report once a year on a specific month and day of your choosing.
  • At. Use these fields to select the hour, minute, and ante/post-meridiem to run your report.

Notifications

If you want confirmation that your imports are being performed at the indicated times and sent to the appropriate people, check the Enable Email Notification box and provide email addresses in the fields below. For example: johndoe@examplelibrary.com

Operators specified in the Email Notification field will be sent confirmation that the import was performed.

  • Enable Email Notifications. Check this box if you want to enable email notification, sent upon import completion.
  • Email Notification To. Provide the email addresses Alexandria will send a notification to when the import has completed. Separate multiple email addresses with commas (for example: johndoe@examplelibrary.com,janedoe@examplelibrary.com).

Settings vary significantly per type of import. See Import Items > Settings and Import Patron > Settings.

Before Importing
  • Skip First Record if Field Mapping. When checked, Alexandria will not import the first record in the import file; this is generally done when the initial record of your import file contains an unrecognized header. This setting will ignore recognized COMPanion headers so that they are properly imported.

This tab only applies to Item and Textbook imports, to give more control over title and copy data. See Import Items > Options.

When setting up a saved import, you must specify where the file is coming from. This is done in the File Source tab. Set the Protocol dropdown to either Choose File (typically for a one-time import), FTP, or FTPS.

  • Protocol
    • FTP. Import your file over FTP without encryption.
    • FTPS. Import your file over FTP with SSL-based encryption.
    • Choose File. Choose a file to import from your computer. This protocol cannot be scheduled.

Choose File

This option is fairly straightforward. You’ll choose a file from your computer that follows the requirements of that import (varies between patron, item, and image imports), and for patron/item imports you’ll set your field mapping (unless the file contains Alexandria headers).

FTP/FTPS

Alexandria can import new (or update existing) patrons from a record database stored on an FTP server. These options allow you to specify the (secure) FTP server URL and username/password credentials. If you find yourself uncertain what an FTP server actually is, it’s essentially just a software application that uses the File Transfer Protocol (i.e. FTP), a protocol used for sharing files over the internet. There are several FTP server software packages available that you can download and use for free.

FTP, short for File Transfer Protocol, is a set of rules (language) used to transfer files between computers on a network, such as the internet. There are two computers involved in an FTP transfer: a server and a client. An FTP client is an application that allows you to upload, download, and otherwise manage files stored on the FTP server. There are several FTP clients available for free, such as FileZilla and Cyberduck.
  • Host. Enter the host name or IP address of the FTP-accessible server. For example, myserveraddress.com. Don’t worry about including the URL protocol/scheme (e.g. ftp://); it will be automatically appended before the host name, depending on your Protocol selection (above).
  • Port. By default, FTP runs over Port 21 and FTPS runs over Port 990. You can manually enter a different port, if necessary.
  • Path. Enter the full path, including filename and directories. For example, /directory/subdirectory/filename.txt
  • Username and Password. Provide a clear-text authentication and sign-in protocol in the form of a username and password. If your FTP server is configured to allow it, you can connect anonymously without having to enter anything.
  • Field Mapping. Click this button to open the Patrons/Items Field Mapping window. Learn more about Field Mapping.
    • Alexandria automatically recognizes file headers created by other COMPanion software to correctly import files without you knowing anything about the contents of the data. Field Mapping is required for all tab-delimited import files that do not have a header.
    • Patrons and items are imported in sequential order. Use the arrows to correctly order the fields of the import file. Click the green checkmark on an individual field to exclude it from the import.
    • See Import Field Mapping for more information.
  • Delete Files after Processing. When left unchecked, the file will not be removed (deleted) from the FTP directory after it has been successfully imported. It will be left on the server for processing by other applications or Data Stations.
  • This is a Shared Patron Import. (Option for patron imports) Only patrons with Site Code of THIS site will be imported. The file will be left on the server for processing by other sites.
Use FTP and Saved Patron Imports as a Patron Server

It can be difficult for administrators to keep up with changing patron populations over a vast network of Alexandria Data Stations. With our shared import FTP functionality, an entire patron record database can be stored in one central location and every Alexandria Data Station—once configured—can import new (or update existing) patrons as they become available.

To make it really easy to manage your patron databases, use one of our SIS Integrations to set up automatic and hands-free student imports!
How Does This Work?

Most school districts use administrative software with centralized student information management; this software has the ability to export an entire student population, which can then be transferred from one host and stored on an FTP server over a TCP-based network.

Once the patron file has been transferred to a shared FTP server (and with the proper administrative permissions), patron data can then be imported or exported to any Alexandria Data Station.

If several sites import from a shared directory, it is absolutely essential to have your FTP settings accurately configured! For instance, if none of your sites except one has Delete Files After Processing checked, that school will cause the shared import file to be erased after import! One bad apple can essentially spoil the whole bunch.
For this reason, we recommend that you consider having an IT professional configure your scheduled FTP imports and/or prohibit specific Import and Export settings for certain Security Groups.
Further, if you’re using the FTP selection to schedule imports for files other than patron records (e.g. MARC record imports) we recommend that you create independently named subdirectories for each file type being imported.
For example, your URL might be: ftp://myserveraddress.com/directory/subdirectory/.

If you don’t specify a particular file to import, Alexandria will import every file it discovers in the shared FTP directory; even if multiple files exist in the directory—they will all be processed and imported separately. For example, if the URL you provide does not contain a specific file name (e.g. ftp://myserveraddress.com/directory/subdirectory/ ), then all files located within that directory are imported. However, if the URL you provide does include a file name (e.g. ftp://myserveraddress.com/directory/subdirectory/filename.txt ), then only the file that matches that name will be imported.

Once a file has been successfully imported, it will be left on the server for processing by other Data Stations unless you have the Delete Files After Processing option checked; then, the file will be removed (deleted) from the FTP directory.

So that you don’t import patrons/items from sites other than your own, only patron/item records that match your current Site Code will be imported. Additionally, if you have the This is a Shared Patron Import option checked, the program will only import new patron records; this is determined by matching internal Site Codes and checking filenames and file creation/modified dates.

Read about Patron Imports Best Practices!

COMPanion FTP Service


Access to COMPanion’s FTP server is included in SIS Integration packages. Contact our Sales Team if you’re interested in adding this service to your library!

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol used for the transfer of computer files between a client and server on a computer network. In other words, scheduling a patron import from an FTP server is another way to automatically update patron information in your library. Use it in conjunction with GG4L or Clever to update information that might not be included in those syncs. FTPS is similar, except your data is encrypted and secure.

With this service, you’ll be provided with a secure and private folder on COMPanion’s FTP server. You can then upload files to that folder and transfer them to Alexandria through a patron import.

We only allow explicit FTPS transfers.
Explicit FTPS is a newer transfer method that allows for more flexibility in determining how secure the file is. Before a transfer starts, the client requests encryption information to see which data is secured. However, implicit FTPS encrypts all data and establishes a secure connection before the transfer.
FTP Onboarding
Want access to COMPanion’s FTP server? Here’s what you’ll need to do!
  1. If you don’t already have a SIS Integration package, contact our Sales Team to add one to your library.
  2. Call Customer Support and they will send you a link to set up a username and password.
  3. Once this has been completed, our Hosting Team will create a folder on our FTP server for you. We will send an email with a link to your folder.
  4. You’ll then need to work with your library or district tech to upload patron import files. Since we do not work directly with your SIS, this isn’t within our area of support. It will be up to you and your district to get the files in the correct format to your hosted folder. Check out Import Field Mapping and Import Tab-Delimited Records for information on Alexandria’s file formatting requirements.
  5. Once the file is in your folder, you can set up and schedule an FTP or FTPS import in Alexandria.



Import FAQ

How do I import patrons or items through FTP?

How do I make sure imported copies go to the right site?

Where do I set up the "next barcode" if I'm importing items without barcodes?

Is Patron History changed or modified when updating with an import file?

What information can be updated with a patron import file?

Over the summer our IT department wants to add or re-add the Chromebooks and iPads to our catalog. What are the recommended methods of doing this correctly?

Archive Before Import is no longer an option. Here’s why:
In the past, we have suggested that users run an archive prior to importing a large set of data. This archive would act as a fallback solution in case anything went catastrophically wrong. However, Alexandria now runs daily archives as part of its normal operations, so as long as you follow our suggested Backup Procedures, you will have a backup from the day before.

Why wouldn’t you want to use an Archive as a way to ‘undo’ a large import or utility? Because you might not be the only person working in Alexandria. Other librarians might be cataloging, patrons might be placing holds—all things that are hard to control and almost impossible to track down if you restore from an Archive and effectively erase all those transactions.

We highly encourage you to run potentially dangerous operations, like imports, during low usage periods. Choose your import options scrupulously and review the log for errors immediately following the operation!