Sierra Hacks #Library Scientist

Requesting a list of outstanding holds from iii Sierra generates either a printable list in .txt format or a “print to email” list, which merely copies the .txt file into the body of an email message. While this clearly works perfectly fine for many use cases, it would be much more useful for the particular paging policy at my large university library to have this information in a spreadsheet that could be shared among the staff scattered throughout the library. I investigated alternate strategies for getting this information, but Sierra seems unable to create a .csv version of the list of outstanding holds.

Though I haven’t trained as software developer, I’m always willing to pick up new skills to solve ongoing problems—in this case, a semi-straightforward Python script is all we need to scrape the data from the Sierra text file and generate a .csv of the outstanding holds. The code is a little quick & dirty (maybe not that quick, for me) but it successfully splits out the patron information (name, patron number, email, phone) by line so each field is recorded into its own column for easy sorting later, and even removes the page numbering (“Page x”) that interrupts the relevant information.

I know I’m not alone in harnessing simple code to improve daily tasks and workflows in the library, and this is my contribution to the world of Sierra hacks that exists on GitHub and elsewhere.