Create Lists/Review Files – uploading barcodes with JSON

It’s now possible to create a review file from a JSON query. Sounds difficult? Fortunately, someone has written a basic query for us, you just need to replace the barcodes in this template query with your own list.

{"queries":[{"target":{"record":{"type": "item"},"field": {"tag": "b"}},"expr": {"op": "in","operands": [
"3 8008 01017 4349",
"3 8008 02011 8211"

How to create a review file from a JSON query

  1. In Create Lists, choose an empty review as and click on Search Records.
  2.  Name your review file, store ITEMS (or BIBs if appropriate) and click on the JSON tab


3. Copy/paste your JSON query into the box to the right. For a test, you can use the example above – copy and paste into the JSON box and click Search.


4. That’s it!

How to create the JSON query

You will need to create a JSON query containing your barcodes. You can do this as follows.

  1. Prepare your barcodes. As you can see, they need to be enclosed in quotes ” and appended with a comma e.g.”3 8008 01017 4349″,The easiest way to get the barcodes into the correct format is to use Notepad++ (Notepad ++). Download this or ask IT to put this onto your PC.
  2. Open Notepad++ and paste in your barcodes.

Open Find

Click Repace tab

Find what: (.+)

Replace with: "\1",

Search mode: Regular Expression

Click replace all

barcodes in notepad

3. In Word, copy the JSON code into a new document:

{"queries":[{"target":{"record":{"type": "item"},"field": {"tag": "b"}},"expr": {"op": "in","operands": [
"3 8008 01017 4349",
"3 8008 02011 8211"

4. Copy your barcodes list from Notepad++ and replace the barcodes in this example with your preapared list.

5. Delete the comma after the last barcode. This is important!


6. You can now copy/paste your JSON query into Create Lists, as described above.

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Create lists/review files – Import records

Create lists has a new feature that allows you to create a review file by importing a file of record numbers. By ‘record number’ this means the Sierra unique record number – the ‘p number’ (patrons), ‘b number’ (bibliographic) etc. This doesn’t allow you to import barcodes or ISBNs.

It’s really easy to use. Put your record numbers into a single column, with no header, and save as a text (.txt) file (I usually copy/paste from a column in Excel into Notepad) e.g.


In Sierra, go to Create Lists. Choose an empty review file with a big enough capacity (if you have your record numbers in Excel, it should be easy to tell how many records there are).

import records

Give the review file a name and then use ‘Choose File’ to find your saved file of record numbers. You should see the record numbers you are about to import listed on the screen:

import records 2

If you don’t see a list of records numbers after using the ‘Choose File’, there is probably something not right about your file. Check that it contains only record numbers and is saved as a plain text (.txt) file.

Click Import and the records will be added to a review file.


I recommend to always export the ‘record number’ when you export data from Sierra. This will make it easy to run batch updates on the records at a later date, by using ‘import records’ to collect the records in a review file on which you can perform global updates.

For example, if you’re doing a withdrawals project and you identify a large number of records as ‘missing’, you could identify these records in Excel, batch import the record numbers into Sierra and update all the items to have status ‘missing’.



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Sierra upgrade 10/11th April

We’re upgrading Sierra next week. Below are some of the feature and fixes you’ll find after the upgrade.

  • Allow staff to page when placing item-level holds on locally available items in the SDA
  • Web Management Reports no longer require Java (Yay! – LC)
  • Performance improvements for exporting review files especially for databases with high numbers of linked records
  • Performance improvements for exporting records from Data Exchange especially for databases with high numbers of linked records
  • Performance improvements for keyword searching in WebPAC especially for databases with high numbers of linked records
  • Sierra Web usability improvements
    • Currency control fixes for record editor
    • Quick Search of indexed terms in brief bib display enabled
    • Copy & Paste improvements
      • Users can now copy data from the record data in the Brief Record display
    • ENTER key now activates Yes response in save warning dialog
    • In the Record Editor, when going to previous and next record, Save icon is now enabled
    • Date field fixes
    • Subsidiary menu items now display without requiring the user to click on them
    • User can press Enter key to accept warning dialogs



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Create lists/Review file – getting started

  1. To get started, go to the Create Lists function in Sierra

Create list - function

2. Choose an empty review file. These are easy to identify. The Name, Type, Login and Created [date/time] fields will all be blank, the Status is “empty” and the Current Records field will be 0.

Empty files

The Max Records column tells you the capacity of a review file. Some files are able to hold thousands of records, and some only 200. Choose a review file that has a big enough capacity for your needs but try not to wildly over-estimate (this become easier with practice!) Only use the largest capacity files when required as these are in high demand by the tech services teams who do batch imports and exports of tens of thousands of records at a time.

3. Highlight your chosen, empty, file and click the ‘Search Records’ button.

4. Give your review file a name. It’s good practice to start with your initials, which makes it easy for you (and others) to find all your review files later. Then give your review file a meaning full name that describes the contents.

Name review file

5. Choose what type of records to store. For example, if you want a list of patrons with overdue items, store patron records. If you want a list of eBooks, store bibliographic records.

store record type

6. The next line specifies the range of records to be searched. Usually you can leave this as the default ‘range’, which will apply your search to all records in Sierra.


7. Now you need to build up your search strategy. In this example we want to find all patrons who have more than 10 items checked out. Let’s look at a patron record to see how we can identify the correct records.


The Current Checkouts field is a count of number of items currently checked out, so this should suit our requirements.

In create lists, enter your search terms. Double click in each field to open a pop-up box with all available options e.g.


Operator – This is always blank for a one line search. You need to enter an Operator when you have more than one search term.

Type – the type of record that contains the ‘number of checkouts’ field is Patron

Field – the field name is Current Checkouts

Condition – we want ‘more than 10 items checked out’ so select the operator ‘greater than’ >

Value A – we want patrons with ‘more than 10′ checkouts so enter ’10’

Value B – leave blank. This only needs to be filled in when you use specific Boolean operators such as ‘between’ where you need a start and end value.

When you have filled in your search criteria, it’s a good idea to check the box  below where your search is expressed as a sentence. This can sometimes help you identify if you’ve made any errors:


‘PATRON Current checkouts greater than 10’ sounds correct. If you are happy, click the Search button to tell Sierra to run the search.

7. When your search has finished, you will find it in the list of review files with a status Complete


Double-click the file name or select the file and click the ‘Show Records’ button to view the records Sierra has found that match your search criteria.

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Online Resource button

The Online Resource button is a nice feature in Reading Lists Online that allows a student to see at a glance which resources are available online and gives one click access to the resource from the list:


Sounds simple but as is often the case, providing one-click access to e-resources isn’t always easy in practice. Here’s an explanation of how the online resource button works.

When you bookmark an article (or book, book chapter or journal) the option to display the online resource button in the reading list will usually – but not always – be ticked by default. If it isn’t already ticked, you can do this when you create a bookmark:


As there are several different ways to link to an article, RLO has to decide which link to use when the online resource button is ticked. By default it will choose which link to use in this order:

The Web Address will be used if it exists

The OpenURL link will be used if there is no Web Address

The DOI link will be used if there is neither a Web Address or OpenURL link

If the online resource button link doesn’t work (e.g. it gives an error or links to an article behind a paywall), you can manually change its behaviour. Edit the bookmark, untick and re-tick the Online Resource button and you will be given the option to choose the linking behaviour:


Each option has its pros and cons. If you are unsure which link is best, consider the following.

Web Address

The Web Address is an optional field you can add when creating or editing a bookmark



  • The web address provides a direct link to the resource
  • You can manually edit (or delete) this link in the bookmark
  • You can link to anything, inclucing freely available PDFs and non-subscribed resources


  • The web address may or may not authenticate the user (does it contain the WAM or OpenAthens linking syntax?)
  • The web address is ‘fixed’. If the resource moves or the link or authentication method changes, this link may stop working and need to be manually updated
  • Sometimes a web address link will go to a resource we do not actually subscribe to so the student may hit a paywall


The OpenURL link will always be present for an article but requires the following information to be specified in the bookmark for it to work:

DOI or date, ISSN, volume, issue and start page


OpenURL links (via our Link Resolver) use our knowledgebase to create links to articles and journals we subscribe to.  They are more robust than static web links because they check our holdings and create the article link on-the-fly, so if a journal moves platform, the link resolver will automatically link to the new platform.


  • The link will always contain authentication (e.g. WAM or OpenAthens)
  • It will only link to resources we actually subscribe to
  • You do not need to update OpenURL links if a resource moves platform


  • You can only link to our subscribed resources (i.e. you cannot usually link to a free resource via an OpenURL)
  • It is a 2-click link via an intermediary screen not a direct article link


DOIs allow direct linking to articles via a unique identifier.


  • Provides a direct link to the article (via Crossref but the user will not see this intermediary step)
  • A DOI is a quick and easy way to create a direct article link


  • The DOI always links to the article on the publishers website, but our access may be provided by an aggregator (i.e. we may have access to an article but not on the publishers platform)
  • The DOI link will not usually include our authentication so the user may hit a paywall (even if we have access to the article)
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Create Lists/Review Files – enhanced version

Did you notice that since our last Sierra upgrade there are some new features available within Create Lists? One of these is the ‘Enhanced’ option. This is a more intuitive way to build your search than the current (‘Classic’) version of create lists. It’s also much quicker  to build a search when you need to list multiple options (e.g. a list of item statuses; a list of patron types; a list of item locations).


Below are two ways to find all items with status missing, lost or withdrawn. The first strategy is similar to the way you’d do this in classic ‘create lists’, though a little easier as you only need to input the ‘item status’ selection once.

item status equals to

The second way is even easier. It uses the new ‘In’ operator, which is described in the manual as follows:

Use the In operator to find results that match at least one of any number of operands. This operator is equivalent to specifying multiple equal to terms linked with Boolean OR operators. For example, to create a review file of bib records that match any of a dozen locations, use the In operator and specify the 12 valid locations as operands.

In practice it looks like this:

in operator

You use the little ‘x’ buttons to the right to add a new line. It takes a bit of adjustment when you’re used to Classic create lists but it’s a huge time saver when building these kinds of lists.

One drawback is that you can’t save your search strategy as you can in Classic. However this option is coming soon in the next Sierra upgrade.

UPDATE: You can now use Saved Search with enhanced searches.

Give it a try!






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Create Lists/Review Files – Quick Tips – Show Info

When you’ve run a review file and the results aren’t what you expected, use the ‘Show Info’ button to quickly review your search strategy.

Suppose I want to find items that have status MISSING or LOST at the Law libraries. I run a review file but on looking through it I can see that it contains many items with status Available at GIP. I can review my search by clicking on ‘Show Info’.

Show Info

At first glance the search seems ok but if I break it down I can see where I went wrong.

The Boolean OR operator effectively combines 2 different searches. Any item that matches either the first search or the second search will be added to the review file. The two searches can be stated as follows:

  1. ITEM location starts with ‘lw’ and item status is either ‘m’ or ”l’


2. ITEM location starts with ‘gi’

I’ve failed to limit the search to items at location ‘gi’ with the item status ‘m’ and ‘l’. Let’s try again.

Show Info 2

This time the search works. Translated into more human language, the Boolean statement above becomes:

The item location starts with either ‘gi’ or ‘li’ AND the item status is either ‘m’ or ‘l’


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