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Alma & Primo VE Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Over the course of the Alma & Primo VE implementation project, CARLI staff will work with the Ex Libris implementation team to answer questions as they arise. If you have questions not represented here, please consult with your library's Alma/Primo Liaison and submit your questions to .

Page last updated 5/23/2019

Contents:


General Questions

What are the most recent updates on the migration?

Highlights on the migration project are posted on the Weekly Alma and Primo VE Project Updates page.

When will my library be migrated to Alma & Primo VE?

CARLI: The plan is to cutover all 91 I-Share libraries to Alma and Primo VE in June 2020. We may have to do some of the final implementation tasks in batches of I-Share libraries, but overall, the plan is to keep the consortium together and not prolong the cutover. We will have a complete test installation run before final cutover, which allows you to do your troubleshooting on the test installation and, hopefully, make the cutover to production a much quicker process than the test round.
Answered 2/21/2019

When will each library get access to documentation and training materials?

CARLI: Libraries have access now to the Ex Libris Knowledge Center which holds most of this material. CARLI and libraries will be advised about working towards product certification, which is intended for staff who will perform configuration duties, during the implementation process.
Answered 2/21/2019

Will library staff be expected to travel for off-site training or classes?

CARLI: The Ex Libris Knowledge Center contains several online training modules, including introductory videos and exercises that can be used with Alma sandboxes by any library staff. The site also includes online certification courses targeted at, “Administrators and system librarians, and those who are tasked with making system-critical decisions should plan on becoming certified Alma Administrators at their institutions.” Library staff do not need to be certified to use Alma or Primo VE.
CARLI has also contracted for 4-day, in-person training sessions with Ex Libris. The content, timing, and location for these sessions have yet to be determined.
Answered 2/21/2019

The Test Load Phase timeline states that we will fill out migration and configuration forms by August 2019. However the date to "go live" in Alma isn't until June 2020. Why is there so much time between migration activities?

CARLI: Ex Libris' migration model for moving to Alma involves a test load, followed by period when libraries can test their configurations and work on integrating Alma with other systems (e.g., authentication, student information systems, printers, etc.) and train on Alma using their own data. At the start of September 2019, CARLI will begin delivering libraries' data to Ex Libris for the test migration. We then expect that libraries will receive their test environments by late October.

Once libraries receive their test environments, they will begin a series of complementary tasks to get acclimated to Alma. This will start with data review, to understand how existing data from Voyager migrates to Alma, along with basic functionality testing over a couple weeks time. Then libraries will be able to train on the use of Alma using their own familiar data, understanding the implications of test load decisions. This understanding should improve the results of the cutover load, which will happen in Spring 2020.
Answered 5/23/2019

My library uses a link resolver product other than the CARLI-supported SFX. Will my library be able to migrate link resolver data into Alma & Primo? Will there be a cost for this migration?

CARLI: CARLI has contracted for each I-Share institution to migrate their e-resources data into Alma. This includes link resolver data from sources such as ProQuest 360 Services and EBSCO Full Text Finder. There will be no additional cost for that migration.
Answered 3/15/2019

Will my library be able to use functionality in Alma that we didn't use in Voyager (e.g., course reserves, acquisitions)?

CARLI: Yes! Alma is a unified resource management system, which will allow I-Share libraries the ability to manage their print and electronic resources and services in a single environment. After migration, libraries may begin using workflows that they previously used other systems to manage.
Answered 3/15/2019

What are the system requirements for Alma? Will my library need to buy new hardware (e.g., barcode scanners, workstations, printers, etc.)?

CARLI: Alma and Primo VE are cloud-based solutions, which do not require specific hardware to run local clients. Institutions will need workstations that meet local system requirements and use an updated web browser on a display of at least 17 inches. You may wish to review Ex Libris' recommended display and browser specifications.

Printing from Alma will require new configurations. As a cloud solution, Alma is designed to handle printing via email. Institutions may need to invest in printers that have dedicated email addresses for printing notices or charge receipts. Alternatives, such as printer proxies, may be an option as well. Libraries and their technical support teams should review Ex Libris' technical requirements for printing.

Alma does not have any requirements for specific types of barcode readers. Most common point-of-sale model barcode readers should effectively scan library barcodes, which are typically CODABAR or Code 39 barcode symbologies.

Libraries and technical staff may view the complete list of Ex Libris' technical requirements in the Ex Libris Knowledge Center, which is open to use without a login credential.
Answered 3/15/2019

What is Alma Mobile? Is it included with the Alma service? What kind of devices are supported?

CARLI: Alma Mobile is included in the Alma service as a way for library staff to extend Alma functionality away from fixed service points. For more information, refer to the Introduction to Alma Mobile page in the Ex Libris Knowledge Center.
Answered 4/18/2019

We are a CARLI member institution, but we don't currently use I-Share. What would it cost for us to move to I-Share on Alma, and when could we make that move?

CARLI: CARLI does not yet have Ex Libris Alma Primo pricing or I-Share assessment estimates for libraries that are not currently in I-Share. We anticipate being online with Alma Primo in mid-2020 and our current expectation is that we would gather that pricing data in 2021 and potentially open applications for I-Share participation in 2022.
Answered 3/21/2019

Discovery Services

Where can I find more information about Primo VE? I understand it will be the public interface for the catalog, but is it also a discovery interface? Is there an extra cost for libraries to use Primo VE as a discovery interface?

CARLI: A good place to start reviewing Primo information is the Primo VE area of the Ex Libris Knowledge Center. Primo VE includes access to the Primo Central Index, which makes Primo a fully-implemented discovery service. This service is included in CARLI's Alma & Primo VE contract, and as such, will be covered by your library's I-Share assessment.
Answered 4/18/2019

What are the future plans for VuFind? Could my library continue to use VuFind after switching to Alma?

CARLI: CARLI is not planning to provide a VuFind interface to Alma. This is a major change that came late in our selection process as Ex Libris has changed the implementation of Primo. The new Primo, called Primo VE, uses the same configuration tools as Alma and also provides real-time item status information from Alma to Primo VE. Ex Libris is now bundling the two products and so our purchase of Alma includes Primo VE and Primo VE includes the central knowledge base of e-resource content that was previously provided through (old) Primo. VuFind does not and would not provide this e-resource content linking that will be available through Primo VE, so for that and other reasons, we will not be putting VuFind on top of Alma.
Answered 2/21/2019

My library uses a third party discovery service (e.g., EDS, Summon). Will we be able to continue using that service after migrating to Alma?

CARLI: I-Share libraries that are currently using third-party discovery services primarily chose those products to serve as alternatives to VuFind and/or the Voyager WebVoyáge catalog interface so that they could integrate e-resource discovery with their catalog search results. E-resource discovery was not an option in VuFind or WebVoyáge, but it is an integral part of Primo VE. We would strongly encourage libraries using third-party products to re-evaluate them in comparison to Primo VE, in terms of functionality, cost, and the ongoing effort your library staff would need to invest in the support of third-party products.

Primo VE will serve as the standard interface to the I-Share union catalog and the individual member institutions’ catalogs. Primo VE also serves as an e-resource discovery service. It makes use of a central knowledge base of e-resources and will take advantage of the e-resource management work you will do in Alma by presenting your users with access to the materials licensed by your library and CARLI. Also, the ongoing effort of making sure a third-party service is working with Alma will require more of your attention than it has with Voyager as Ex Libris performs monthly software updates to Alma and Primo, and all customers receive these software updates on this same monthly schedule. Also, the Primo VE product is included in the price CARLI will be paying for Alma and is not a cost that can be split out for libraries that choose not to use it.

Alma is designed to be an open product and has API’s that can be used to provide access to and from other discovery products. If after considering Primo VE, your library wishes to stay with another product, we encourage you to quickly begin working with the vendor of that product for advice on integrating it with Alma and to be prepared to do a considerable amount of product integration work and testing during the early spring of 2020 so that you are able to be ready for a June 2020 Alma deployment.
Answered 2/21/2019

Acquisitions and Serials

The timeframe for going live, Summer 2020, looks to be intertwined with the timeline for my library's fiscal year close. What approach do you recommend for doing both?

CARLI: We will keep Voyager and our reports environment available for at least several months after the anticipated Go Live date in June 2020. We anticipate doing a lot of planning as to how best to meet the Go Live date as well as our libraries’ needs to close out the fiscal year. This is something we will be planning in collaboration with the membership over the next several months.
Answered 2/21/2019

My library's Voyager Acquisitions client has a lot of old vendor data that we don't want to keep? Can I just start over with new vendors in Alma?

CARLI: CARLI has contracted with Ex Libris for each library to migrate their acquisitions data in full, so there is no additional cost for you to do so. There is also no requirement to migrate your acquisitions data if that is your preference; you may opt out now or later without penalty. However, a library may not opt in to migrating acquisitions data later without probably incurring costs from Ex Libris. You should choose the approach that works best for your operational needs and institutional data retention requirements.

If you choose to migrate acquisitions data, all existing data in Voyager will be migrated. Because of the dependencies among vendors, orders, and funds, it is not possible to migrate only one type of data but not others (e.g., migrate orders but no vendors). The migration process provides ways to declare older fund, order, and invoice records as closed.

If you choose to not migrate any acquisitions data and start over from scratch in Alma, you may still have some database maintenance to perform to prevent associated data from migrating.
Answered 3/15/2019

Cataloging and Resource Management

My library performs routine authorities maintenance of name headings for our bibliographic records. Should we continue to perform this maintenance prior to the move to Alma? Will our efforts affect the Network Zone record?

CARLI: When we go to Alma, we will have a Network Zone that takes over the function of the union catalog. In Alma, the Network Zone is built using a first-in premise. That is, the first copy of a record that gets added becomes the "master record." This master record is a shared bibliographic record that will be linked to your local records in your Institution Zone. Linked institution and network zone records will be updated automatically when updates are made to either version; institution zone records may also have local fields to preserve locally-relevant bib-level data.
 
While we're still in Voyager, there remain benefits from continuing to improve bib records. Updating headings in bib records improves access to records and resources in both your library's catalog and the I-Share union catalogs. 
 
CARLI hasn't yet finalized how the Network Zone will be built. We are strongly considering the possibility of using the existing union catalog database to launch the Network Zone. In the event that we use our union catalog, then it will be vital to have the most up-to-date data possible for everyone.
Answered 3/15/2019; revised 5/23/2019

We are trying to prioritize our catalog data clean-up efforts in advance of migration to Alma, but we see that there are many records and projects needing attention. What is the most critical clean-up we should perform?

CARLI's Technical Services Committee has reviewed and prioritized the different clean-up projects into the order that will provide the best data moving forward. It's best to start at the top of the list and move down, even if you see that a project listed lower may have a higher record count. If your time and staff are limited to choosing only one project, then work on the project to Resolve conflicts when item records have permanent locations different from the location in the MFHD.

The Technical Services Committee is planning a webinar for early June (tentatively June 10--save the date), for an open discussion on the maintenance priorities.
Answered 4/19/2019

Will records suppressed at the time of the migration come over as suppressed or will they potentially be converted as unsuppressed?

CARLI: The Alma migration process respects the existing state of record suppression. Bibliographic and holding records that are unsuppressed in Voyager will be unsuppressed in Alma. Records that are suppressed in Voyager will be suppressed in Alma.

If suppressed bibliographic and holdings records are included on a library's "P2E" list, the library will have to specify on the migration form whether to create electronic portfolios, packages, or databases for those records during migration. Choosing to make a portfolio will unsuppress the record(s). Choosing to not make a portfolio will keep the record(s) suppressed, but not create any electronic inventory.
Answered 4/18/2019

The Test Load Phase timeline states that we will fill out migration and configuration forms by August 2019. My library hasn't completed all the pre-migration tasks yet.

CARLI: The Test Load Phase will be the first time that all 91 I-Share libraries will go through the migration process together. The test load will create the Alma environment for each library using the data available when CARLI performs the data extractions. However, libraries may continue to perform database maintenance activities through the start of the production, or "cutover phase," which will begin in Spring 2020.
Answered 5/23/2019

Patron Data and User Authentication

I see that Alma supports a single-sign on authentication method. If we implement single-sign on, will we use SAML attributes for identifying patrons, or will patrons still require barcodes?

CARLI: Alma does support, and in fact, prefer, that institutions go to a single sign on setup. Please don't stop using barcode numbers yet, though. I-Share resource sharing allows onsite borrowing and item pickup at any of the 91 I-Share libraries and that means the patron has to have some ID number that can be scanned or otherwise entered at the lending library. Technically, it should be possible to move away from the barcode ID number in the future, but we won't be able to do that until sometime after the Alma migration is completed and we have time to plan and test this kind of major change with all 91 libraries.
Answered 2/21/2019

I see that Alma supports "SIS Integration" for the exchange of patron data between an SIS (e.g., PeopleSoft) and Alma. How similar is this method to CARLI's current Voyager Patron Load process? Will libraries still file work requests and transfer patron files via secure FTP?

CARLI: Alma's student information system integration enables Alma to import user data from and export user data to a student information system. Files of patron data are still transferred securely with some degree of automation. We expect that some I-Share libraries will want to and be able to format, schedule, test and upload their patron file updates on their own in Alma. However, our members are very diverse and some may wish for CARLI staff to perform this work for them. We will be able to answer this in more detail in the coming months.
Answered 2/21/2019

When will my library and my institution's IT group be able to begin working on integrations to student information systems?

CARLI: Once your library receives its Alma environment, or Institution Zone, after the test load migration in Fall 2019, you will receive an account to the Ex Libris Developer Network. This account will enable your institution to use Alma APIs in conjunction with your Institution Zone.
Answered 5/23/2019

Does Alma support the authentication system used by my institution?

CARLI: Alma supports three protocols for use in authenticating library users--staff and patrons--to Alma and Primo VE: SAML, CAS, and LDAP. Many of the authentication systems in use by I-Share libraries now, including Shibboleth, ADFS, Azure Active Directory, and OpenAthens, are covered by these protocols. Library and information technology staff may review the requirements and configuration details on the Ex Libris Developer Network Institutional IDP page.
Answered 5/23/2019

My institution does not have an external authentication provider. When should I plan to have a provider in place?

CARLI: Ex Libris requires that libraries have external authentication in place and configured by the time a library goes live on Alma. External authentication is used to enable library staff to work with Alma, and used to provide patrons with single sign-on access to Primo. Library staff should work with institutional IT teams to put an external identity provider in place by June 2020.
Answered 5/23/2019

Reporting

Voyager provides back-end reporting capabilities via Oracle and ODBC. Will we have a similar reporting interface for Alma?

CARLI: Alma will include the Oracle Business Analytics service for data analysis and reporting. Because of the differences between client server and cloud hosted architectures, the functionality is not the same was with our current reporting setup. This is standard in Alma for all customers.
Answered 2/21/2019


If you have questions not represented here, please consult with your library's Alma/Primo Liaison and submit your questions to .