Letters

Letters are communications generated to borrowers that are stored in the database and can be reviewed, adjusted or even discarded before transmission.

Introduction

The Letters module creates borrower communications that can include:

  • details about the borrower
  • details of all issues currently out to the borrower
  • details of all current overdues for the borrower
  • details of outstanding fees for the borrower.

Library administrators can customise the existing templates (there are 9 templates included with Athenaeum) or create new templates.

Components

The Letters module consists of

  • Letters - the letters generated and printed or emailed to the borrower
  • Templates - the structure of each letter
  • Tokens - the bits of information that are evaluated in real time and substituted into the templates to build the Letters

You only need to know about tokens when you want to adjust or create templates.

Creating Letters from Borrowers

Letters can be generated from a found set of borrowers or a found set of issue records.

The procedure to create Letters when looking at a selection of borrowers is to:

  • click the “Letters” menu
  • choose a letter template
  • check and possibly edit the generated Letters
  • output it to printer, pdf or e-mail

Find your Borrowers

Find the borrowers you wish to communicate in one of the standard ways - for example:

  • ad hoc find or
  • find a class/room or group or
  • find a set of issues and then “list borrowers” for those issues

Choose a template

While viewing the borrower found set in list view, click the “Letters” button:

Click on the name of the template you wish to use. The names should be reasonably self explanatory.

Confirm that you wish to create letters for the number of borrowers.

The letters are generated immediately and a list of Letters is displayed. You can scroll through this list, reviewing the various letters.

If you make a mistake, then immediately go to the Command menu and choose “Delete X letters” to remove the Letters you just created.

Check and edit

Each individual Letter is presented in a tab showing plain text.

However, if the template used has an html version, such as the overdue letters created from circulation, then the html version of the letter is also stored. You can switch between the plain and html tabs to see each.

Do not apply any text formatting such as bold, italic of font styles, as this will be discarded.

Output your Letters

Individually

output individual Letters
output individual Letters

You can print individual letters by clicking the print button.  E-mail individual letters by clicking e-mail buttons 1 or 2.  If no e-mail address is associated with the borrower, the email buttons do not show.  Clicking the gear widget below the print/email options shows a pop-over window with the date printed and/or emailed.

In Bulk

Of course, you may output bulk Letters in one step.

output bulk Letters
output bulk Letters

At the top of the list, you may use the send e-mails and print Letters buttons to send all found set of letters to e-mail addresses 1, 2 or print.

Creating Letters from Issues (circulation)

This is slightly different in that you don’t choose a template, but rather choose an action on the found set of issue records, either from the print or email menus.

circulation email menu generates letters for you and offers to send them immediately
circulation email menu generates letters for you and offers to send them immediately

One difference between generating letters from Circulation compared to doing so from Borrowers is that Letters from Circulation can be processed (e.g. printed or sent) immediately, whereas letters from Borrowers will be saved to the database and you must then choose to print or email as a separate action.

Another is that the Circulation letters have “html” options which can include book cover image information in emails.

Creating and Customising templates

Athenaeum Pro comes with 9 templates that cover common Letters scenarios. You may - and are encouraged to - edit existing templates to create Letters customised for your needs and you can duplicate and customise existing templates or create new templates from scratch.

Letters is generated from Templates, which combine plain text and “tokens”.  Click the List Templates button at the right side of the Borrower Utility screen to see a scrollable list of the current templates.

list templates
list templates

Template Parts

Templates consist of the following components:

  • Context,
  • Name,
  • Include flag
  • The template content
template list showing a single template with components
template list showing a single template with components
1
navigation list of templates - click one to jump to that template
2
include in list flag (uncheck to hide from the letters list on borrower screen)
3
context: defines which modules (borrower or circulation) that the template is visible to
4
plain text and html tabs - only visible when a template has both components
5
token list - sliding panels with clickable tokens. Click a token to insert it where your cursor currently is located in the letter. Tokens are substituted at the time the letter is generated.
6
the content of the template. Enter text here as you would in a plain text editor. Do not apply formatting such as font faces, bold, italics, etc as formatting will be ignored.

Tokens

The template contains the text and embedded tokens that are substituted at the time the letter is generated.

Tokens are the symbols that are replaced at the time the letter is generation. To use these, simply type your text into the template, and when you wish to insert a token, click, using the mouse, the token you want to insert and its symbol will be inserted.

For example, if you would like letters to William Smith read:

Dear William,
Please ...etc...

You would type into a new template:

Dear 

then you would click on the borrower first name token on the right.

Athenaeum inserts the token for Borrower first name (which happens to be

[[borrower_given_name]] 

Then continue to type the rest of the template.

There are three types of tokens.

Simple Tokens

Simple tokens which substitute a single value into Letters (e.g. borrower last name which inserts the current borrower’s last name). These should be inserted into the middle of the text just like any other word.

Complex tokens

Complex tokens, such as “outstanding fees” which will substitute one or more lines of text, such as a list of fees outstanding with a date, reason, etc. 

Customisable Tokens

These are complex tokens (possibly multiple line) where you can specify elements to be included or not.

[[issued_items (barcode location author fee dateIssue dateDue)]]

 When inserting such a token, you may choose to delete individual words from between the parentheses, and the corresponding information will be omitted from the letters.

For example, this template:

Dear [[borrower_full_name]],

The following items are overdue. Please come to the library and either return the item or explain the circumstances of the lateness.

[[overdue_items (barcode location author fee dateIssue dateDue)]]

Thank you for your co-operation.

Claire Files 
Ararimu Library

 might produce this Letters:

Dear Darryl Krell,

The following items are overdue. Please come to the library and either return the item or explain the circumstances of the lateness.

Matting, mounting and framing art Max Hyder ; illustrated by Paul LaPlaca.  - Hyder, Max.  [07573] 
	replace fee: $54.95 issued: 10/02/2013 due: 31/03/2013 

Ptolemy's gate Jonathan Stroud.  - Stroud, Jonathan.  [55409] 
	replace fee: $29.95 issued: 23/04/2013 due: 26/04/2013 

Biker  - Masters, Anthony  [60136] 
	issued: 29/04/2013 due: 23/07/2014 



Thank you for your co-operation.

Claire Files 
Ararimu Library

 You can see that two entries were inserted into the letter and the replacement fee, issue & due dates, bar code, title are all included.

However, editing the template like so (removing the due date, author and location): 

Dear [[borrower_full_name]],

The following items are overdue. Please come to the library and either return the item or explain the circumstances of the lateness.

[[overdue_items (barcode fee dateIssue)]]

Thank you for your co-operation.

Claire Files 
Ararimu Library

Will result in a simplified output:

Dear Darryl Krell,

The following items are overdue. Please come to the library and either return the item or explain the circumstances of the lateness.

Matting, mounting and framing art Max Hyder ; illustrated by Paul LaPlaca.  [07573] 
	replace fee: $54.95 issued: 10/02/2013 

Ptolemy's gate Jonathan Stroud.  [55409] 
	replace fee: $29.95 issued: 23/04/2013 

Biker  [60136] 
	issued: 29/04/2013 



Thank you for your co-operation.

Claire Files 
Ararimu Library