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    General

    How are libraries working with Alma able to collaborate?

    Libraries that are implemented in multiple institutions may still share data elements and workflows, using Alma’s Network Zone.
    A Network Zone may be set up where one of the following is required:.
    • Shared Catalog – A shared catalog consists of a single metadata catalog that is shared by all libraries. The single catalog source can also easily serve as the source for a shared discovery experience.
    • Shared Acquisitions – Shared acquisitions consists of centralized purchasing of e-resources that are available to the member libraries.
    Centrally managed configurations – Additional functionality can be implemented on top of the Network Zone to facilitate centrally managed configurations for the following:
    • Shared fulfillment – The Network Zone can be used to centrally manage fulfillment policies and terms of use. The centrally managed policies and terms of use are then dispatched to all members of the network, where they are used in the local members’ fulfillment rules. This achieves a high level of consolidation in the fulfillment area, with agreed upon policies and terms of use being used by all members of the network.
    • Resource sharing – The basic configurations of the resource sharing component may be centrally managed at the Network Zone and shared by all members of the network. This includes a shared list of:
      • Resource sharing partners
      • Resource sharing rota templates and assignment rules
      • Workflow profiles
      • Locate profiles
      Using a consolidated configuration set achieves the goal of unifying the user experience and library back office processing across all disparate libraries.
    • Vendors – Vendor records can be centrally managed at the Network Zone. Routine and automatic dispatching of the vendor records to all network members achieves the goal of having a single list of vendors that is used throughout all members of the network but is managed centrally by a single office.
    • Mapping tables – Mapping tables govern a variety of system behaviors across all functional elements of the system. Maintaining a centrally managed mapping tables set is key to creating unified and consolidated workflows at the network members across the system.

    How can data entry be integrated across institutions?

    The Alma Network Zone allows libraries within the consortia to use a single bibliographic record, which will be shared among all members of the consortium. Individual members can use the shared bib record and also enhance it with local fields, which will only be managed in their institutional repository and presented only to their patrons. It also allows for sharing of additional entities such as vendor records, negotiations done by the central office, resource sharing policies and partners and more.
    The Alma architecture allows for data sharing and process sharing across institutions in a streamlined manner. Alma manages many aspects of an institution’s records and process, including the core catalog and inventory data, as well as financial and acquisitions-related data. In addition, the system manages fulfillment records such as user accounts, loans and requests. This is summarized in the diagram below:
    Catalog and Inventory
    Alma is designed to allow single-site institutions and consortia to manage their catalog(s) and inventory, by providing the ability to manage local holdings and collections as well as shared resources (e.g., resources from the consortium). Resources managed within an institution can be described using either the local catalog’s records, as is done in today’s systems, or an institution can link its inventory records to the metadata records in the Community Zone (this term is defined below), which eliminates the need to download these records to the local catalog.
    Alma optionally models the consortium as a group of individual institutions with a dedicated consortial zone called the Network Zone, which manages shared data and shared processes of the consortium. This model streamlines the workflows of the consortium because all of the members are using the same interface, processes and functionalities, thereby creating a unified working environment.
    The ability to search and use (i.e., link to) another catalog within a consortium is supported in Alma by what we call institutional relationships. Two or more institutions can work together by exposing and/or sharing their data and providing services for this data:
    • Exposing data – allow another institution to just search and view the data in the Catalog and Inventory
    • Sharing data – allow another institution to link to the same record (“use it”) in the Catalog and Inventory
    This is a more inventory-centric model, where the actual location of a bibliographic record is less important than in traditional ILS’s. The benefit of this hybrid model is the ability to combine local data with shared descriptive information.
    Because Alma is not limited by the need to manage all descriptive records in the local catalog, sites have flexibility in sharing records, depending on how useful the record may be to the broader community. For shared records, libraries can attach local fields that are indexed and searchable, and may be published to discovery for end users.
    From a staff user perspective, searching in the catalog and inventory is integrated and seamless. When searching for a record in Alma, staff users may search in their local institution as well as in the consortium; this allows them to view other institutions’ resources as well as the Network Zone catalog.
    The screen shot below displays this capability:
    As can be seen above, users can search their own institution, the consortium (the Network Zone) and the Community Zone shared catalog (the Alma Community Zone incorporates the KnowledgeBase, a Community Bibliographic Catalog and Global Authority Files). When searching, users are able to see not only the holdings and records of another institution, but also to perform actions such as editing a shared record. This of course depends on the user’s authorization.
    When a user views his/her own institution’s records, Alma will provide a visual indication that a resource is using a linked record to describe it. Clicking on this icon will lead the staff user to view the linked record in the Network or Community Zone catalog.
    Electronic Resource Management
    Electronic Resource Management in Alma is handled differently than physical resource management in the sense that the resource itself can be managed in one place (i.e., institution) but can be easily “delivered” to users in multiple institutions.
    In Alma, this is done by assigning to the Electronic Resource an “Available For” definition, which defines the institutions that can gain access to the resource. Specific resources can have different “Available For” settings. When managing an electronic resource in the Network Zone and making it available for individual members, there is an option to indicate specific information that is proprietary to the member, such as coverage information, linking information, etc. This allows institutions to manage electronic resources centrally while keeping the member’s proprietary information.
    As with the searching and linking functionality described above, this too is defined by creating an institutional relationship definition of the type, “Make Available For”.
    Managing the electronic resource in one place but making it available for many institutions in the consortium greatly reduces the amount of management needed to make these resources available for end users. Alma offers two models for the shared acquisition of electronic resources, which are described below.
    Shared electronic resources:
    The Alma acquisitions network will enable members to work together by purchasing and/or negotiating e-resources (packages, databases, titles) jointly, supported by a consortial buying office. The central office may purchase electronic resources on behalf of members, and electronic resources are managed in a Network Zone. Acquisition of resources is managed in the NZ and is based on shared funds.
    The central office creates an order for an electronic collection in the CZ, and activates the collection for the relevant institutions using a license, vendor, and fund managed in the NZ.
    The other model is the shared negotiation model. For electronic resource management at the Central Office level, the Alma Network Zone will support the option of a consortial license record. It differentiates from a standard license in that there is an option to define the license as a Negotiation License (in other words, the Central Office negotiates a license on behalf of its members).
    In the Negotiated License, the Central Office defines the license details (price, start and end of license, etc.) for each member subscribing to the package. The Central Office will be able to define which members of the consortium will have access to given packages.

    What is the expected level of consortium support required to manage Alma?

    Moving to the cloud lowers the required threshold for entry to basic management processes. In today’s systems, many mission-critical workflows require server access. The staffing requirements for basic management processes such as record loading or integrating data from other campus systems must be managed by a system administrator. Since Alma provides user-friendly and highly efficient interfaces for all tasks, the system expertise needed to manage the system is significantly reduced. Both Alma and Primo are hosted by Ex Libris and no local database expertise or maintenance is required.
    Reporting - There is no need for a person with IT or database background to create reports in Alma Analytics, as Ex Libris provides training in report design.  Receiving the prepared report requires simply using a menu option or subscribing to receive a list of pre-scheduled reports by email.
    Importing - Data import profiles are set up once by acquisitions/catalog administrators using standard Alma screens. These routines can be added, removed, or edited at any time based on your changing needs. The import actions themselves involve no more than placing the import files at the destination from which the import will take place, and monitoring the import actions using standard Alma task lists that explicitly identify the import error and enable downloading the erroneous file for correction and import re-run.
    Exporting - Simple exporting of data is possible by any catalog/inventory administrator. The export action is done using standard Alma batch process automation actions, and the output files are FTP’ed or uploaded from standard Alma screens.
    For the implementation project, we require a single project manager for all consortia service who serves as the primary contact for the Ex Libris project manager and also manages the library implementation team.  We also ask that the libraries form a team of functional experts, and appoint a primary contact at each participating institution.  The general roles that the Consortium should expect to fill include:
    Project Manager
    • Institutional Leads (for each library)
    • Functional and Data Experts
    • Public Services
    • IT Representatives
    The backgrounds and job titles of individuals who fill customer roles may differ from library to library according to the organizational structure, staffing, and other details specific to each organization.  Ex Libris provides information about the roles and responsibilities required to participate in Alma implementation, and the customer determines which individuals on their staff are capable and available to fulfill these roles.  Roles may be filled by multiple individuals, and a single individual may fulfill one or more roles.  Regardless, most tasks are performed with in collaboration with the Ex Libris project manager, and according to the mutually-agreed project plan. Generally, all roles are expected to participate throughout the implementation project, although activity levels will vary throughout the process.
    A few details about each role:
    Project Manager:
    • Acts as primary point of contact with the Ex Libris project manager
    • Responsible for ensuring that organization staff resources are available to assist as necessary
    • Manages internal and external communications about the status and priorities of the project
    • Helps to mitigate risks
    • Leads and coordinates all activities related to the implementation of Alma for the customer including:
      • Manages data and configuration input and workflow review process, including Primo and other end-user systems that are impacted by Alma implementation
      • Manages internal library staff training
    Institutional Leads:
    • Acts as primary point of contact on behalf of his/her institution with the customer library project manager, and Ex Libris project manager as needed
    • Responsible for ensuring that institutional staff resources are available to assist as necessary
    • Managing the data and configuration input, and workflow review process on behalf of his/her institution
    Functional and Data Experts:
    • Have overall familiarity with workflows and data in the current systems relating to each relevant area
    • Participate in the data and configuration input and workflow review process
    • Provide internal library staff training in each relevant area
    • Focal areas:
    • Acquisitions – ledgers/funds, POs and invoices, and acquisition of print monographs and serials
    • E-Resources – procurement, licensing, and management of all electronic resources acquired by the institution
    • Fulfillment – patron registration, import and management, circulation policies, and calendars
    • Interlibrary Loan – lending and borrowing workflows and policies, workflows and profiles for external resource sharing management applications, integration with NCIP
    • Resource management – bibliographic, authority and inventory data and management, access to external resources and local practices
    Public Services Staff:
    • Reviews the Primo discovery interface, and other end-user systems that are impacted by Alma implementation
    • Assists in planning the transition from the OPAC or former discovery layers to Primo
    IT Representative :
    • Is aware of Alma implementation project and schedule as it relates to external systems managed by IT
    • This may include firewall rules configuration, integration with university ERP, authentication, and other systems
      • Allocates staff resources and expertise as needed

      How are work views are limited to a single library or shared across the consortium?

      The Network Zone may be implemented to support a number of multiple institution shared workflows that are otherwise managed within an institution only, such as:
      • Shared catalog management
      • Shared acquisition of electronic resources
      • Shared negotiation of electronic resource purchasing
      • Data and workflows may still be managed also at the local institution level, in parallel to the shared data and workflows.
      All configuration elements of the system are managed at the institution level, that is they are configured and used within the scope of an institution. However, where a Network Zone is configured it may be used to share configuration elements for the consolidated use of all members of the consortia. Staff authorized to access the NZ may login to the shared Alma environment where they can use Alma standard screens to configure date elements that will be shared by all network members. Examples of such configuration entities include:
      • Vendors
      • Record Normalization Rules
      • Mapping tables
      • Resource Sharing configurations
      • Fulfillment Policies and terms of use
      The shared elements are automatically distributed to the local institutions, where they are used as part of the relevant workflow. In all of these examples, the member institutions may make local additions and alterations to the network supplied data.
      Analytics reports may be shared at different levels, and may be run across consortia members.
      Roadmap plans are to enable additional shared entities of this type, such as user records.

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