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Tool Librarian
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Software to track tools, members, and their loans
Software to track tools, members, and their loans

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Another update brings a host of new and improved features.

1) You can now add up to 10 identical tools at a time! (I LOVE this.)

2) Export to CSV is now available for some reports.

3) Many reports are now sortable and filterable.

4) For libraries that use tool photos - there is a new report: tools currently actually on the shelf awaiting a photo - can be printed out for photography sessions

5) There is now an automatic Service Ticket added that declares a tool as "stolen" and "retired" after overdue x months (default is 12 months).

6) There is an optional alert to recheck member's personal info annually. At SEPTL we have it set to 1 year. Here's a screengrab showing that alert: http://www.clipular.com/c/5430925451591680.png?k=sK6yDiOLp5U-OccPmaMzh6B2Yt4

And of course there is more in the pipeline.

A big update has just been distributed to all libraries.

Most of the changes are behind the scenes: how Tool Librarian talks to the database. We've been testing it here for several months and it seems very stable and reliable after lots of debugging.

But not everything is behind the scenes, some of the changes you will indeed notice. Among them are:

1) Now it's EASY TO UPDATE TOOL PARTS during check OUT so at check IN we’ll know exactly what to insist be returned. Simply click on the parts listed in parentheses after the tool name on the checkout screen and make your edits in the popup that opens. Examples: "missing dust bag" or "12 bit box, but missing 3" or "12 loose sockets."

2) When member A stands at your checkout desk with a tool that the computer says is still checked out to member B, now it will offer you the option to automagically check it back in to member B behind the scenes so member A can check it out, all without leaving your current screen. Nice.

3) You may now search for the beginning of any part of the name: first, middle or last.

4) Big improvements to many of the reports.

5) On the member screen, editing Member Notes on the tool checkIn/Out screen now updates the Notes field on the top of screen right away, (and the Reset btn undoes those changes.)

6) You may now edit the footer text in the automatic "due soon" reminder email:

7) We added an optional auto-email that is sent at the end of each shift reminding members which tools they just borrowed and when they're due back.

A minor update has just been uploaded to all sites.

 - The Register form now checks proper spelling of many major email domains. So no more michael@yaho.com or michael@gmial.com

- Can now have the OurTools page display images for just particular categories - useful if you are just starting to take photos. 

- Ratcheted up security a bit more for spammers attempting to auto-enter data into the register page.  This is being proactive, as there have been very few problems that I've heard of.

 - There is a new admin report for Dues amounts paid by Current Members

 - a few minor bugs fixed.

As always, if there are any surprises these updates have caused, just let me know

Ok we have a new update for you!  Always busy here.

1) There is now an Image Upload page, making it easy for you to upload tool photos to the server. A new permission level is required, aptly called "uploads".  I've added that permission to all library's "fulladmins" for you. Those of you who are currently using tool photos may also assign the "upload" privilege to any other authorized users, so if you have a photographer who needs no special access other than to upload photos, give him.her "librarian" privileges (to access TL at all) and "uploads" privileges, and no more.

Additionally, out of an abundance of caution, there is a PIN required in order to actually upload images. The exception to this is that those with "fulladmin" privileges do not need to enter the PIN, as we have a higher level of trust that fulladmins would never log in and then allow others to sit down at the computer. 

In a separate email to those of you currently using tool photos, I will send along your library's PIN, which can be easily changed in the TL_config file at any time. And of course as other libraries decide to go this route, we'll set this up for them as well.

2) A reminder: the tool's Replacement Cost field acts as a cap for Late Fines. But none of us enters that value for every new donated tool as we add it to the database. This means that if those tools become very overdue, their Late Fines become just plain silly, like $50 for a screwdriver.

So... drumroll... now you'll find a new item on the TL home page: "Items needing prompt Replacement Pricing".  Linked there will be the tools that have become so overdue we might begin to worry that the Late Fine calculation will soon exceed a reasonable replacement cost had one been entered.

Tool Gurus have access to this screen, which you might want to check every few weeks. 

Now your librarians and OverDue Tools callers, won't need to be stressed out by having to guess the proper upper limit for a Late Fine.

3) The ourtools page now has a lookup feature that displays a nice tool list when you start typing a tool name into the Search box (when you pause after entering at least three letters.)

4) There is a new Export to CSV page to output your member list for import into MailChimp, VerticalResponse etc newsletter mailers. Please let me know what other database fields or csv files you'd like to see added.

5) Relevant to only a few of you, I've changed the TimeToRenewDues email schedule - it will now be sent every 2 weeks to notify people their Membership renewal date is coming up (in the next 7-20 days). It had been on a monthly schedule.

6) A few libraries have found it useful to create a "Mystery Member". Despite our efforts to have our own librarians confirm the member's name and not simply rely on the member's memory of his.her MemberID, every once in a while we find that a tool has been checked out to the wrong person. We can check the tool back in to that incorrect member record and check it back out to the Mystery Member so we can still track the tool even if we don't know who really has it.  Please let me know if you'd like me to set this up for you, as there a number of coding changes that need to be made specially for that Mystery Member ID. 

7) Another reminder: TL can display a unique favicon (that little image on the browser tab or the address bar)  if you wish. You simply set the path to the image in TL_config.

8) This update includes a number of cosmetic tweaks.

9) Some Administrator tool reports have been moved to a new Tool Guru section on the home page.

10) OverDue Tools list now properly displays information for unnumbered tools.

Happy 2015 to you!

I've just updated all libraries. Nothing too dramatic but some interesting stuff.

New:

 - "Cull Tools" report - this will list the least borrowed tools first, with a link to the tool page with the service ticket accordion open to make retiring the tool quick and easy.

 - If a tool is marked with a Service Ticket problem of "disappeared from shelf" and no service ticket status has been set yet, then should that tool ever miraculously show up at your front desk for checkout, it'll be available for lending, and once checked out the Service Ticket will be auto closed in the background so the librarian never will never see anything amiss.

 - Tools may no longer be put back into service by non-tool-gurus if there is an active service ticket. I.e. Service Tickets can now be closed only by a guru. (We've had tools awaiting repairs for invisible safety issues that volunteers have decided on their own seemed safe to check out to members!)

  - "Our Tools" page (replaces the toolsListing page) 
 --- It's a "responsive design" which means it works nicely on all screens - phones, tablets, computers:
 --- Live example with images: www.atl.septl.org/TL/ourtools.php
 --- Live example with images turned off: www.septl.org/TL/ourtools.php
 --- You can use a ? to replace a tool number if it's illegible, e.g search for 300?4
 --- Let me know when you'd like to begin using this new inventory page, with or without images.
 --- How to take and prepare the images: http://goo.gl/3UaBjc

 - "Register" page (replaces the typeityourself page)
  --- This new page is also a "responsive design" so it's easier for people to sign up online before they come in to your library.
 --- It is flexible as to the text you might want to include on the page.
 --- Once submitted, it can redirect to any page, so back to your welcome page, or to now-pay-your-dues-online-page, or whatever.
 --- Functionally no different than the typeityourself page, but if you'd like to switch to this new layout, just let me know.
 --- It is designed to be a free-standing page, i.e. not meant to be used in an iFrame.
 --- Live example: ask me for the url

New-ish:

 - TL now allows for an Enrollment Donation, an optional one-time payment for new members.
 --- We've now used this at SEPTL since Jan 1.
 --- At SEPTL we ask for $10 - 40, but you can of course structure this any way you wish.
 --- If you aren't already charging Annual Dues and would like to learn more about Enrollment Donations, just let me know.

Old news:

Reminder - if emails to a member bounce, prepend "bounced_" to the email address. This will prevent further emails being sent and also add a flag atop member screen so the next time they're in hopefully someone will update the address.

As promised, I've just updated Tool Librarian for all libraries.

New feature added:

 For libraries that are just beginning to take photos of their tools: there is now an option to display the tool image on only the Tool page - seen by the librarians - but to stick with the old ToolsListing page until you have enough photos to make the photo-filled our-tools page useful.

Special reminders for WPTL and BTL:
     
a) As we discussed before there is new Annual Dues payment logic - enter the current payment amt the member is paying at that moment, not total for day as before. It’s okay to enter, say, $20, and then later that day enter $10 if the member decides to be even more generous. TL will know that the member paid a total of $30 for the day. (Should you ever need to UNDO a payment, let me know and I'll see about adding negative payments to cancel out earlier ones that day.)

b) The new Annual Dues logic also adds tracking payment type, i.e credit card, cash etc.

c) WPTL and BTL please watch the Time-to-renew-Annual-Dues emails to be sure the new logic is working okay as I totally changed their mySQL query.

Minor bug fixes and improvements:

 - There is now a column for Member Name on the Tool page's Loan History

 - Neighborhood map popup dimensions now work correctly

 - Checking out unnumbered tools now works properly for libraries with variable-length tool IDs (this fix had already been sent out to WPTL) 

 - For the new our-tools page (which includes images of your tools unlike the ToolsListing page) - we decreased bandwidth usage for missing images. Any Library that would like to start showing their tool photos instead of using the imageless ToolsListing page, just let me know.

Coming soon:

Tool Librarian will soon handle one-time Enrollment Donations - i.e. a one-time (possibly optional) payment for new users when they join your library. We'll be using this at SEPTL beginning Jan 1.

I've just pushed an update that:

- improves page navigation when you click on links in certain reports
- updates jQuery to the latest version from one several years old (and whew this was no easy task!)
- a few minor bug fixes and page tweaks

As always, but especially with the jQuery update, let me know right away if you notice any odd behaviors. We've been running this update at SEPTL for 2 weeks now with no problems.

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We've just added a new tool inventory page with TOOL PHOTOS! Try it out at the link below.

For new libraries, it's a simple matter to take photos as you add new tools. For existing libraries, well, let's just say that at SEPTL we are daunted by the prospect of taking thousands and thousands of them. But... when you're ready, let me know and we'll switch you over to the new page.

As you prepare the images, save them as .jpg files 250px wide and 200px tall, each named with its Tool ID, for example 30104.jpg . For now you can upload them to a dropbox folder, or other cloud repository which I can access - or simply email them to me - and I'll move them up to your server.

When taking the photos, we've found it easiest to write the Tool ID on a small whiteboard positioned  well away from the tool itself but included in the photo to be cropped out later.

I gave this page a lot of thought over many months. The result is responsive (i.e. works on phones, tablets and computers), spry and user-friendly. Hope you like it.

P.S. At SEPTL, it happens from time to time that a ToolID numeral is illegibly smudged at checkout time.  Here's a tip: in the Search field on the new page, enter a ? in place of each of up to three smudged numerals. For example, on the demo page try searching for 3000? .  Determine the correct item (jumping to a Category may save you some time), roll over its Tool Name - or click on it for more info - to see the Tool ID  --- and break out the magic marker.  Honestly this alone may be reason enough to have created this new page!

P.P.S  Since we haven't yet taken many photos of our tools, here we use mock tool images which I hope you enjoy.

- e michael brandt

I just pushed an update to everyone that fixes a small hiccup that Peter of westphillytools.org told me about today.

If you'd noticed your browser complaining when you clicked the Back icon on a member screen which you'd reached by choosing from a list of members with the same name, then you'll see all is now well.

And if that all sounds too convoluted and you hadn't noticed any issues in the first place, then no need to parse that last sentence!

As always, if you ever notice anything amiss, just let me know!

P.S. I will soon put up a demo of the new tool-inventory-with-images page which is just about ready to go.

emichael

I'd like to let you know about the latest Tool Librarian update, which I've just installed for everyone.

As requested by a couple of libraries - and approved by all - I removed the “Is Volunteer” checkbox, replacing it with a “Today requested volunteer info” checkbox.  When your volunteer checks this box on the member’s page,  your Volunteer Coordinator will get an email that evening with a list of the members who want to learn more about volunteering. Optionally the member herself will receive an automatic email with whatever information you choose. You may create that email on the Admin | Edit emails link on the Home page. Once you've added content to that email, TL will automatically send it out that evening.

I also fixed a bug: Now if a tool is overdue, the LateFine is tacked on when a late tool is Renewed - just like it is when it’s checked-In - as it should be.

Any problems, and questions, and issues with this update, obviously don't hesitate to contact me.

P.S.

I am currently working on an exciting new feature: the ability to track un-numbered tools! There are two situations where I think you should find this useful:

1) When a tool's ID is smudged and illegible, but the member just must have that item.

2) When the member wants to check out a tiny drill bit that has no number.

In both these scenarios, the volunteer must enter a Note on the member’s record, and that note must be manually erased later when the tools is returned. This seemed workable at first, but it has proven a big nuisance to enter the Note, and even more of one to remember to delete it.

Checking out items as unnumbered tools should speed the processing of loans in the library, AND also improve tracking of tools.

My code is almost ready for beta testing here at SEPTL. I’m pretty excited about this one. and I hope you'll find it useful.

e michael
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