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Are you using Oliver to its full potential? (Part One)


Asset management with Oliver v5

Did you know that Oliver isn’t just a Library Management System? You can use Oliver to keep track of resources throughout your entire school.

Archival information, textbooks and computers are the most popular resources being tracked by our clients but they are also tracking musical instruments, sheet music, lawn mowers, cricket bats, puppets and even Lego robot kits.

Your options are endless!


Before you rush out and start cataloguing every item in the school there are a few things to consider:

  1. Do you have the support of senior admin? And do they already have an alternate system in place?

  2. Have you set an upper and lower dollar value for items you will catalogue?

  3. How are you going to identify the physical resources? Various methods have been recommended by clients, such as engraving, Dymo labels, permanent markers or even keyrings with plastic tags. For resources that are on long term loan to students, such as musical instruments, using keyrings attached to the case seems to be a popular option. On one tag record information about the instrument (barcode, model, serial number etc.) and on another tag record the name of the student that the resource is on loan to, as well as the name/phone number of the school. For smaller instruments, such as flute cases that often don’t have a handle, sew or pin the keyring to the fabric lining of the case.

  4. What is your expected level of involvement?

    - Will you just provide login details and let them manage everything?
    - Are you cataloguing all the resources, making sure they are clearly identified as well as managing the loan, return and stocktake of them?
    - Somewhere in between?

  5. Are the various departments you are cataloguing resources for prepared to work with you? Will they assist you with using correct terminology (if required)? Will they help you track down paperwork like receipts, warranties, and user manuals? Will they work with you to regularly stocktake resources, make sure the identification tags are not removed and contact you before disposing of resources?

  6. Are you biting off more than you can chew? The general consensus seems to be to start small and work with those staff that are most enthused.

Branch vs. Collection

Whether you create a specific branch for equipment or have a collection of equipment within your library branch is a personal choice. Some factors that might affect your decision are:

  • The size of your school and the number of resources you are cataloguing.
  • Will the resources be managed by library staff or by other staff in the school?
  • Are the resources all located in the library or elsewhere in the school?

For a small school with a limited number of resources, the simplest option might be to have a single library branch with one of your collections called equipment.

A medium-size school might have a library branch and a department branch. The department branch could have multiple collections for sports, AV, computers, music, etc.

A larger school might set up a branch each for the IT department, music department or science department etc. The IT department branch could be used to track computers, computer software CDs, computer books and much more. The advantage of this option is that each branch gets its own home page. The IT department home page could be used to advertise computer classes, new computer games being purchased or opening hours for the computer room, etc.

If you are not sure, start small and use Oliver’s Exchange function to change the location of your resources when you are ready to create a more complex system.

Equipment BibType

The equipment BibType is already set up in Oliver for you. The following additional fields will automatically be available at the copy level when you allocate a resource to the BibType of equipment:

  • Description
  • Make
  • Model
  • Serial Number
  • Engraved
  • Cost to Library
  • Currency (for Library)
  • Cost to Donor
  • Currency (for Donor)
  • Comment
  • Building (location of equipment)
  • Room
  • Responsible Staff
  • Date last sighted
  • Method (disposal)
  • Remark

Other things to think about

How are the resources going to be catalogued? Will you have a resource title of Computers and add different brands and models at the copy level or will you have more specific resource titles like Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch, Apple MacBook Pro 15 inch, Acer Chromebook, etc.

Will you mention additional items in the Notes field (e.g. this computer comes with a mouse and charger) or will you give every charger, mouse, HDMI cable etc. its own cataloguing record and barcode? The answer to this could depend on how much time you have available and how frequently these items are being lost.

Oliver provides you with the ability to track equipment maintenance at the copy level. This might be to track how often light bulbs are changed in data projectors or batteries are replaced in laptops. You do this by going to the individual copy level of your equipment item and clicking on the Add Maintenance button.

Oliver maintenance screenshot

To add even more value to your equipment register you could scan documents like warranties and user manuals and attach them to the resource details.

If you have concerns about the information being visible in the search results then there are several options available to you. The first option is to choose Hidden in Search when editing your BibType. This means that the BibType, and all resources with this BibType will be hidden from everyone in the search results. Another option is to apply security to an individual resource. Security is controlled by User Roles which means that a teacher could login and access the resource but it could be restricted from view for students.

Advanced users might like to try creating new BibTypes or duplicating existing BibTypes. You could also use Page Layout to add additional fields and Translations to change the field names to make them more relevant for these newly created BibTypes. For example the Music Department might like to make a Sheet Music BibType and use Page Layout and Translations to add fields like Musical Form (sonata, symphony, opera), Instruments (violin, orchestra) and Performers (London Philharmonic Orchestra).

General Material Designation (GMD)

GMD enables an additional level of clarification for a BibType. For example, the resources in the image below are all part of the BibType of eBooks. I have used GMD’s displaying website logo’s to provide additional information about the free websites where these eBooks can be downloaded from.

To do this go to Management > GMD, Create a New GMD and attach an image to the GMD.


If you allocate an image to the GMD it will override the BibType image and the GMD image will be displayed in the search results instead of the BibType image. If there is no GMD image then the BibType image will be displayed.

Oliver - gmd screenshot

Another example could be a BibType of Musical Instruments and GMD’s of String, Brass, Woodwind and Percussion. Upload an image of a violin, trumpet, clarinet and drum to make your GMD’s easy to spot in the search results.

Hopefully you have picked up a few tips for tracking resources in your school. Have a go at some of the above ideas. In the next article I will discuss setting up a branch for school archives.

For assistance - use the Help area in your Oliver v5 system to search for the following help articles:


  • How to Add a Branch
  • How to Create and Edit a Collection
  • Overview of BibTypes and BibType Entities
  • How to Create a BibType
  • How to Create a GMD with an Image
  • How to Add an Equipment Copy to a Resource
  • Overview of Equipment Copy Records
  • How to Add Maintenance Details to an Equipment Copy Record

Looking for more Oliver v5 tips?

  • In this blog post, we offer suggestions for using Oliver to keep track of school archival information
  • Reading Lists are a valuable tool in Oliver v5, which library staff can use to help their borrowers easily locate specific resources. Learn more about reading lists here.
  • Looking for ways to engage students in the library, this blog post discusses ways that Oliver v5 can help.

Editor’s note: this post was originally published in November 2016 and was updated for freshness, relevance and accuracy in March 2020.