Offline Mode Overview

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Kelly Hock

Overview

Libraries use offline mode to continue library services when the Polaris server is unavailable for an extended period of time for planned maintenance, upgrades, unexpected outages, importing data for new member libraries, etc. Members should follow the instructions for Preparing for Offline mode when initially adding new Polaris workstations.

In the case of an unexpected service outage, members are NOT required by the CLC to use Polaris Offline. Some libraries find that other methods, such as scanning barcodes into a word document or hand writing barcodes are better alternatives than Polaris Offline. If you plan to use another method for processing transactions during an unexpected outage, please review the process with CLC to make sure there are no unforeseen problems with your alternative method.

Polaris Offline is available on the Polaris desktop client and on Polaris ExpressCheck. Offline mode in Leap is not currently used by the CLC.

Preparing for Offline mode

You should periodically review these steps to make sure your library is prepared to use Polaris Offline mode in the event of an unexpected outage.

Using the Polaris Desktop Client in Offline Mode

  • Staff do NOT need to contact the CLC before going into offline mode, but should let the CLC know at some point that their library was offline so we can be on the lookout for any potential Polaris issues.
    • If the reason for going into offline mode is due to a CLC service outage, you should follow the reporting an outage instructions, so CLC is alerted of the root problem and can begin working to resolve the issue.
  • Offline circulation should be used for checkouts. Do not check in material while Offline.
  • While it’s possible to register a patron in Offline mode, this requires additional setup and a special workflow for uploading the offline files.
    • A separate and dedicated computer must be used for registering new patron records.
    • The offline files on this separate computer must be uploaded prior to the transaction files on the other circ computers.
  • You cannot process fine payments in Offline mode.
  • If the Polaris Desktop isn’t starting in Offline mode, you can force the desktop client to use Offline mode by launching the Polaris client and check the Work off-line box. Enter your username and Domain if it’s not filled in, and click OK.
    • If your PC is set to auto login into Polaris and you need to use Offline, choose the File -> Log off option from the toolbar, then select File -> Login. You’ll be prompted for your username and password. Check the box below the password prompt for Offline mode.
  • Once you are logged into Offline mode, go to Circulation -> Check Out to begin work.
    • Be sure to check the Loan Period setting and make sure it matches your library’s polices for loan periods during offline mode.
    • Due dates will be the same across all checkout types, you may want to batch together checkouts based upon material type if you want to give then special due dates.
  • Typically, on the Polaris desktop client, when you scan or enter the patron’s barcode in offline circulation, their name will be shown
    • If you don’t see the patron’s name, then the scanner may have misread the card.
    • If the scanner correctly read the barcode, they may be using a lost or newly registered card that was created during offline. Or you could be using an out of date Offline configuration file.
    • Your library will need to determine if it’s OK to check-out to a patron with no name in the check-out screen.
  • You can check-out SearchOhio / OhioLINK items that were PREVIOUSLY RECEIVED - The ILL status must be received and the Item status MUST be HELD.
  • To finish a patron’s CKO session, hit the enter key with a blank item barcode.
    • This will cause the receipt to print.

Using ExpessCheck in Offline Mode

  • If the outage occurs before the ExpressCheck workstations are turned on, then ExpressCheck will ask at start-up if you want to use Polaris Offline. Press “Yes” to go into Offline Mode.
  • If there is an outage AFTER ExpressCheck has started up, the Welcome screen will freeze up and patrons will not be able to scan or type in their barcode number.
    • Reboot ExpressCheck machines so that you get the offline prompt and press “Yes” to go into Offline Mode.
    • You may need to “hard” reboot the ExpressCheck computer. Press the power button on the computer until the screen turns off. Release the power button, wait a few seconds then turn the computer back on.
  • Once in offline mode patrons will be able to checkout only if they have their library barcode to SCAN .
    • This is done for patron security account reasons, since patron PINS cannot be verified against their barcode in offline mode.
  • ExpressCheck use requires that patron barcode is in the offline file.
    • Newly registered patrons that were registered during offline will NOT be able to use expressCheck.
  • ExpressCheck does NOT block for excessive fines.
    • If you’d like to prevent patrons with excessive fines from using ExpressCheck, you’ll need to remove them from the PolPatrons.mdb file (Offline transaction configuration file) using a SQL script in Microsoft Access.

Uploading Offline files

If Polaris was Offline due to a CLC service outage, follow the #system-announcements thread for updates and wait for an OK from CLC before processing offline files. Do NOT assume just because Polaris is accessible for a moment that the problem is resolved.

Check with your local IT staff or Polaris technical liaison to see if your library has special procedures in place before following the instructions below .

  • All offline transaction files must be processed before checking-in any material.
  • If you registered patrons while in Offline mode, those workstation files that registered patrons should be uploaded BEFORE the general checkout files so the new patron is present before the checkout is applied.
  • If patrons checked out on ExpressCheck machines, follow the steps in the Processing ExpressCheck Offline Files first before following these instructions.
  1. To process your Offline transaction files, log into the Polaris Desktop Client in as normal and go to Circulation -> Bookmobile.
    • You should see your file(s) ready to be uploaded.
    • If your files aren’t listed, you may need to look in another directory on your computer or the network. Click on the Find File button and browse to the Offline Transaction file(s), they should have a .TRN extension. If you cannot locate any offline files to process, please ask your local IT staff to help you locate the .TRN files on your computer or network drive.
    • The Free Days option and the “pick a date” button is only used for processing files of checked-in material. The CLC does not recommend checking in material while Polaris is offline.
  2. Choose the file(s) you want to process by selecting them and then click Upload File to start processing.
    • You can hold down on the CTRL key while clicking the files to process multiple files at once.
  3. When you click on the Upload File button to begin processing, you will get a dialog box asking what you’d like the system to do if there is an error during process. CLC recommends the “continue and get error report in the end” option.
    • The files will be uploaded and processed.
    • When Polaris is finished processing, it will create a .LOG report for each .TRN file that was processed.
  4. You can click on the View Report button to see the results of the processing. You can also view the reports using a standard text editor.

Uploading ExpressCheck Offline files

ExpressCheck offline files should be copied to a Polaris desktop client before the desktop client files are processed.

Your local IT staff or Polaris technical liaison should do the following:

  1. When the Polaris ExpressCheck offline session is over, copy the transaction files from the Polaris ExpressCheck client (typically located at C:\ProgramData\Polaris[version]\OfflineTransaction) to the same folder on a Polaris desktop client .
  2. Use the steps above to process the files, in the section Uploading offline files
  3. To put ExpressChecks back into online mode, reboot the ExpressCheck workstations.

Offline for an extended period of time

Whatever method is used to perform transactions while offline, it is important to backup the transaction files if your library is offline for an extended period of time. This might include making copies of files on workstations and servers or photocopying handwritten pages.