Patron Email Addresses
In order to be able to send an email to a Patron, that Patron's record must include their email address. These can be populated manually, or via an import (contact BiblioTECH Support if you are unsure of how to perform an email address import).
When generating 'Letter' reports, you have the option of either producing Patron or Guardian variants. If you select a Guardian report, the email address used will be the Patron’s Guardian email. Therefore, if you intend to use that option, each Patron’s Guardian email address field will also need to be populated.
BiblioTECH uses two separate methods to send messages; 'Direct' and 'Indirect' email.
This uses the default email client established on the local client computer. (e.g. Microsoft Outlook)
Note: This method cannot be used with web-based email systems
In the Circulation module, once a Patron has been selected, you can click on the Email button. BiblioTECH will:
- Check that the Patron has an email address entered (if not, it will advise that it cannot send the message).
- Tell the default email client to create a new message, and will populate that message with the relevant information.
- The message will then be displayed so you can update it as required and then send it.
- Note: As the email client does the actual sending of the message, the message's 'From' address will be the email address entered into the email client.
Configuration and Testing
On the machine running Circulation, setup and test the local email client (e.g. Microsoft Outlook). Once you know that email messages can be sent from the computer, open the Circulation Module and send a test email to one of the Patrons.
Note: If possible, create and use a generic 'library@yourdomain' email address rather than a specific person as this will ensure that if the librarian changes, the messages being sent (and any replies) will be consistently handled.
All other email messages sent by BiblioTECH are forwarded by the BiblioTECH server via its SMTP Gateway service. The BiblioTECH SMTP Gateway service is a Server component which is installed as part of the Core Server install. Initially, the service is set at Manual start-up. Once configured, this will need to be changed to Auto-start. If this service is started and the settings are invalid, it will automatically stop.
How it works
Whenever an email message needs to be sent (either from a 'Letter' report or from an automated system), it is queued on the BiblioTECH Server. That is, a 'Message' file is saved into the BiblioTECH Server's email folder. Periodically, the SMTP Gateway service will process messages from the queue. The email folder is checked to see if there are any messages to send. If any are found, the system will attempt to forward a 'batch' of messages.
Default Cycle: 10 messages every 3 minutes.
This is to ensure:
- The SMTP Gateway in not seen as a SPAM source and blocked, and
- That BiblioTECH is not 'swamped' by processing a large number of email requests simultaneously.
On the BiblioTECH Server, you must configure the SMTP Gateway settings using the BiblioTECH SMTP Gateway Manager.
Note: The term 'Local SMTP Server' means the SMTP server used by your local clients to forward messages – it does not need to be physically on your local network. Additionally, you will need to ensure that any firewalls used by your network have rules which allow the BiblioTECH Server to communicate with the target SMTP Server.
SMTP Host – The IP address of your local SMTP server.
SMTP Port – The port used by your local SMTP server.
EHLO Response – If your local SMTP server implements an EHLO check, enter a response which would be acceptable to the SMTP server (leave empty if EHLO not used by your SMTP server).
SMTP User ID & Password – If your local SMTP server requires a login, enter a valid User ID & Password (leave empty if the SMTP server does not require login).
Folder to Monitor – Select the folder used to store the queued email messages (refer to BiblioTECH Support if you need to change this from the default).
'From' email address – Enter a valid email address which will be used as the sending 'From' address on all messages.
Minutes between checks – The cycle time between checking of the email queue.
Messages sent each check – This is the maximum number of messages sent each time the SMTP Gateway checks the email queue.
Test To Address – The destination email address used when you click on the Test button.
After the changes have been made, click on the Save button. The settings will be saved and the SMTP Gateway service restarted.
Testing the SMTP Gateway
- Open Windows Explorer to the email queue folder.
- Open the BiblioTECH SMTP Gateway Manager and click on the Test button. A .tmp file should appear in the above folder.
- The next time the SMTP Gateway checks the folder it will see this file and attempt to send it. If it successfully passes the message on to the SMTP server the .tmp file will disappear. If it could NOT pass the message on to the SMTP server the file extension will change to .bad. If after a time greater than the 'Check Cycle Time' nothing happens, check the SMTP Gateway settings and click on the Save button.
Configuration and Testing
- On the Server open Windows Explorer to the email queue folder.
- In Circulation Manager locate a Patron who has overdue resources.
- In Patrons Manager create a new group named TEST. Locate a Patron (note the entered email address and group so these can be restored later), re-assign them into the TEST group, change their email address so that you will receive any messages sent to them and save the record.
- In Reports Manager Run the report Letters – Overdue First, select the TEST group, and monitor the Server's queue folder to see if any mail was generated.
- Select Print and choose 'Email'. Verify that a .tmp message file does appear in the server's queue folder and then, after a short while, disappears.
- Verify that the overdue message does come through. If all is okay use the Patrons Manager to reset the Patron's Group and Email Address entries.
Configuration and Testing
Note: Only enable this is it is specifically required. This feature can generate a large number of email messages so you should check that the SMTP Gateway is configured and operating correctly prior to enabling auto-send.
When enabled, the BiblioTECH Server will check every day at a set time for all resources still on loan and where the Due Date:
- Is in 3 days' time (warning messages)
- Was yesterday (now overdue messages)
- Was 3 days ago (reminder messages)
If any are found and the borrower has an email and is enabled for Auto-Overdue notices, the Server will automatically send the relevant email message to the Patron.
To test the Email Service:
- On the Server open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder selected as the folder to hold the email queue.
- In Circulation Manager locate someone who has an overdue resource which is due today.
- In Patrons Manager locate the above Patron (note the entered email address) and change their email address so that you will receive their communications. Tick the box to enable Auto-Sending of Overdue Alerts.
- In System Utilities select the General – Email Handling page and ensure the Enable option is ticked and set the time to 6:30 am.
- Wait until the next day and then check your email; you should have received an 'Overdue alert' email.
- If all is okay use the Patron's Manager to reset the test Patron's email address and enable any relevant Patrons for receiving of Auto-Overdue alert messages.
- Note: You can repeat the above for someone with a resource due in 3 days time and another with a resource that was due 3 days ago.
The BiblioTECH SMTP Gateway maintains a log of the actions it has taken. This Log will be forwarded to the Librarian each day (i.e. is sent to the configured 'From' address). The Librarian should expect to receive this log each day. Failure to receive this Log is an indication that the email system is not functioning correctly and needs attention.