Getting Started with Surpass

Dec 19, 2022

Getting Started with Surpass Cloud

Surpass Cloud is a powerful, yet user-friendly library management system. However, the sheer number of choices you have can make starting to use Cloud seem a bit overwhelming. Here’s a quick overview of some of the things to think about when setting up your Surpass Cloud database.

The Three Modules

There are three modules that make up Surpass Cloud. The first is the Administrative, or Admin, module, where you catalog resources, enter patrons, perform circulation tasks, and generate reports. Next, the Online Public Access Catalog, or OPAC, is where users find resources, place holds, and check their accounts. Lastly, the Self-Check module, can be set up for self-service in your library.

In short, Admin is where staff log in to do library work, the OPAC is where patrons find items and access accounts, and Self-Check is set up by staff for patrons to use.


Resource Categories enable you to apply different loan rules to different types of resources. For example, you may want general fiction to be checked out for three weeks, but Reference books should not be checked out at all. The intersection of Loan Rules and Categories is the mechanism by which this happens.

Categories are also useful for patrons in finding items in the library, and for seeing what type of resource an item is. Catalogers can assign templates that are customized to include important information for different types of resources. A DVD doesn’t need to have a field in its record for listing the number of pages. However, the number of discs or the running time is helpful to know. Templates allow you to ensure that relevant information is included in resource records.

Some categories are already defined in Surpass Cloud, and those can be edited, or new ones created to meet your collection’s needs. You can even make a copy of an existing category and make edits. Categories are for types of items, not subjects or topics—avoid making them too broad or specific.

Patron Types

Determining what types of patrons you have and any restrictions or permissions on borrowing is important when starting to use Surpass Cloud. Your database will have pre-determined patron types depending on what kind of library you have. You can also add new and edit existing patron types. Loan rules can be applied to patron types to allow a type to borrow items, or to block a type from checking certain materials out. You can also limit the number of items that can be checked out for specific patron types. Patron types are also helpful when compiling reports and statistics.


Defining roles and what permissions they have within Surpass Cloud is important. For example, you need an Administrator role that can perform all functions in the Admin module, and a Patron role for library users to be able to access their account in the online catalog or Self-Check, and not be able to log into Admin at all. Other roles such as a Circulation Clerk who can check items in or out, but can’t make changes to item or patron records, may be used. You can customize and create roles to fit your library’s needs.

Circulation Rules

Setting up circulation rules starts with creating one overall rule where everyone can check everything out. You then make exceptions to that rule. For example, everyone can check resources out for 21 days. However, reference materials cannot be checked out. Also, staff members may check reference items out for 7 days. The overall rule and the two exceptions ensure that only staff members are allowed to check reference materials out for a shorter loan period than the usual 21 days.

You can also use rules to limit the number of a certain category that can be checked out at once. For example, patrons can only check out two resources in the New Books category at once.

Fines and grace periods are also determined by loan rules and can differ between patron types if you like. Multi-location library systems with centralized databases can also apply different rules to different locations.


Indicate days that the library is closed on the Calendar—this can also be done after the fact to record unplanned closures. Resources won’t be due, and fines won’t be assessed on days that the library is closed. Days that the library is regularly closed and holidays can be marked in advance.


If you already have barcodes on your items and library cards, Surpass Support will work with you to see if they are compatible. If they have Code 3 of 9 or Code 39 symbology, they will likely work with Surpass. You can print your own barcode labels, spine labels, patron barcode labels, and
patron cards using Surpass and a standard office laser printer. No special label printer is needed!

Style Manual

Think of the Style Manual as a list of consistent terms to use when entering vendor names, funding sources, and subject headings (if you’re not using a subject authority such as Sears or Library of Congress Subject Headings). By using consistent terms, you will ensure that items will be included in searches and reports. For example, if you enter “Big River Books” in the vendor field and someone else enters “”, Surpass will see that as two different vendors. The book with the vendor “” will not show up in a report for all books purchased from “Big River Books”.


Planning and preparation will help make starting from scratch or moving from another system to Surpass Cloud much easier. If you have questions or experience any issues, friendly and knowledgeable support staff are ready to help.


Schedule a free demo to see Surpass in action.






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