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How To: Testing the Automated Fulfillment Network (AFN)

Background

The Automated Fulfillment Network, or AFN in Alma, is the replacement for Voyager Resource Sharing, also known as Universal Borrowing or UB.

As we get closer to the Alma Primo VE go-live date, we need all I-Share libraries to test the Automated Fulfillment Network (AFN) setup.
This is a consortium-wide task. Our patrons’ experiences at go-live in June 2020 will directly reflect the thoroughness of our testing now.

This webpage outlines the timeline for spring 2020 AFN testing, and the basic steps for testing the AFN.

This webpage will be continually updated as the CARLI staff hear from I-Share member libraries about needed changes to workflow steps, tips and lessons learned, etc.

Update: With the temporary stoppage of ILDS delivery, these directions were updated after the 3/26/2020 open office hours call.

updated 3/30/2020

AFN Testing Spring Timeline

  • Janurary 2020: The 1/23/2020 CARLI Office Hours was on the "Automated Fulfillment Network (AFN) similarities/differences to Voyager; call to begin testing." Please review this recording as needed.
  • Early February 2020: During the first week of February, the CARLI Office held seven "Testing the AFN" sessions. During these sessions, CARLI and I-Share library staff worked through the basic steps and sample scenarios of testing the AFN.
  • Mid-February 2020: We know that library staff need to work together to test the AFN.
    • Many libraries have begun AFN Testing by partnering with another I-Share library to do targeted testing of each others' materials.
    • Following the AFN testing sessions, as the CARLI Office staff were drafting directions for how libraries can contact each other to help broaden the testing, we realized that asking library staff to email each other back and forth with item barcodes was neither an efficient, nor real-life-representative, workflow for testing the AFN.
    • CARLI asked the ILDS delivery contacts to permit the I-Share libraries to send Alma Transit letters through delivery during the months of March and April; routing the paper slips as a representation of the material itself.
  • March 10- April 25, 2020: Libraries test the AFN setup, routing the transit slips through ILDS delivery. 
  • May/June 2020: The CARLI Office staff and the Resource Sharing Committee will review what we've learned consortially from the March/April AFN testing, and will replace this webpage's content with "AFN best practice steps", similar to the "Best Practices: How to use the Call Slip Client" directions currently available for processing requests in Voyager.

Steps for testing the AFN

Part 1: Documentation Review

Part 2: Preparing Library Staff Users and User Accounts for Testing

  • Library Staff:
    • For library staff who will be processing AFN requests, double-check that their record expiration date is in the future, and that they can log in to Alma with their own username and password.
    • Each institution’s Alma-certified User Manager should check that all staff working with the AFN have the appropriate roles needed to perform the transactions.
      • Staff who work with pick lists to process requested materials need Requests Operator scoped to the librar(ies) and circulation desk(s) where they perform those transactions.
      • Staff who supervise the Circ/ILL department, or who should be able to place I-Share requests for local patrons in Alma, should have either Fulfillment Services Operator or Fulfillment Services Manager scoped to the Resource Sharing Library.
        This is the only role that should be scoped to the Resource Sharing Library at this time.
      • Staff who will check materials in and check materials out to patrons should have a Circulation Desk Manager, Circulation Desk Operator, and/or Circulation Desk Operator- Limited role scoped to each library/circulation desk where they work.
      • Staff may have other roles assigned as needed to complete their work in Alma.
  • User Accounts for placing AFN requests:
    • Library staff can set up "fake" user accounts, or, use their own library staff account to place requests.
    • Accounts used for placing requests to test the AFN need to have:
      • the Patron role assigned,
      • an expiration date and purge date in the future,
      • an I-Share eligible user group assigned,
      • and contain information in all of the mandatory user fields.

Part 3: Place requests through Primo VE, and also directly in Alma

In Primo VE: To test placing local or I-Share requests:

The majority of requests for materials will be placed in Primo VE, the patron interface to Alma.
Please test both local requests (if your library allows them) and requests for I-Share materials.
Test pick-up at your own library, and at other I-Share libraries.
Replicate as many common patron experiences as you can during this testing period.

  1. Log into Primo VE with your test requestor’s username and password.
  2. Search for titles and practice limiting results using the search facets.
  3. Locate an item to request.
  4. Investigate using both the local, and I-Share request functionality presented in Primo VE.
    Does it work as you expect?
    Review the "Tips and Lessons Learned from AFN testing" section of this webpage for commonly reported observances (we'll be adding to this list until the end of April); email with additional questions.

In Alma: To test placing local requests (if your institution allows local requests):

Use the Request button to place local requests, where your patron is requesting your library's item, for pick-up at either your library, or at another I-Share library.

  1. Log into Alma with your staff username and password; select the appropriate Circulation desk from your available locations.
  2. Do a Physical Items or Physical Titles search.
    • A Physical Items search allows you to request a specific copy of the title from your catalog.
    • A Physical Titles search allows you to place the request for any copy of the title from your catalog.
  3. Locate the title you wish to request in the results.
  4. To the right of the display, locate the Request button (not Resource sharing request). You may need to click the ellipse if the Request button is not visible.
    Screenshot shows an record retrieved by the "Physical Item" search. The "Reqeust" button, and the "ellipse" are highlighted.
  5. The Create Request form will open and prompt you to select the request type. Select the Request Type of Patron physical item request.
  6. The full Create Request form for Patron physical item requests will open.
    • Fill out Requestor information, Pickup Institution, and Pickup At location.
  7. Submit the request in the upper right. The request should now display in the holding library's Fulfillment> Pick from Shelf list.

During AFN testing, please check what happens with local holds (local requests) if they are unable to be filled by your library. Ex Libris has explained that:

  • Local hold requests that are unable to be filled cannot be converted to resource sharing requests if the patron's pick up institution is NOT the patron's home institution. These requests would need to be manually converted into resource sharing requests, either by library staff, or by notifying the patron to place a new request.
    This is done in the Pick from Shelf list> Request> Cancel Request button.
  • Local hold requests that are unable to be filled can be converted to resource sharing requests (aka, I-Share requests) if the patron's pick up institution is the patron's home institution.
    This is done in the Pick from Shelf list> Request> select ellipse> Convert to Resource Sharing.
    Image shows the ellipse expanded menu for a local reqeust in the Pick From Shelf list. The Convert to Resource Sharing option from the menu is highlighted.

In Alma: To test placing I-Share requests for another I-Share library's copy of a title owned by your library:

Use the Resource Sharing Request button to place an I-Share request for another I-Share library's copy of a title owned by your library.
The request can be picked-up at either your library, or at another I-Share library.

  1. Log into Alma with your staff username and password; select the appropriate Circulation desk from your available locations.
  2. Do a Physical Items or Physical Titles search. The results will display in your Institution zone.
  3. Locate the title you wish to request in the results.
  4. To the right of the display, locate the Resource sharing request (not Request button). You may need to click the ellipse if the Resource sharing request button is not visible.
  5. The Resource Sharing Borrowing Request form will open.
    Screenshot shows the Resoure Sharing Borrowing Request screen, with the Requester, Date Needed By, Preferred Pickup Institution and Location, Delivery Location, Add Rota button, and Save button highlighted.
    • Fill in the following information:
      • Requestor information,
      • Date Needed By,
      • Delivery Location should be set to "Deliver to Library,"
      • Preferred Pickup Institution,
      • Preferred Local Pickup Location,
      • then select the Add Rotas button, and select the checkbox next to "Fulfillment NZ Rota" then Select.
        Screenshot shows the "Rota Templates" screen, with the Fulfillment NZ Rota highlighted.
  6. Save the request in the upper right.

In Alma: To test placing I-Share requests for another I-Share library's copy of a title not-owned by your library:

Use the Resource Sharing Request button to place an I-Share request for another I-Share library's copy of a title owned by your library.
The request can be picked-up at either your library, or at another I-Share library.

  1. Log into Alma with your staff username and password; select the appropriate Circulation desk from your available locations.
  2. Do an All Titles search. Review the results on the Network Zone tab.
  3. Locate the title you wish to request in the results.
    Screenshot shows an All Titles search, with the Network zone selected.
  4. To the right of the display, locate the Resource sharing request (not Request button). You may need to click the ellipse if the Resource sharing request button is not visible.
  5. The Resource Sharing Borrowing Request form will open.
    Screenshot shows the Resoure Sharing Borrowing Request screen for the NZ title, with the Requester, Date Needed By, Specific Edition only checkbox, Preferred Pickup Institution and Location, Delivery Location, Add Rota button, and Save button highlighted.
    • Fill in the following information:
      • Requestor information,
      • Specific Edition Only
      • Date Needed By,
      • Delivery Location should be set to "Deliver to Library,"
      • Preferred Pickup Institution,
      • Preferred Local Pickup Location,
      • then select the Add Rotas button, and select the checkbox next to "Fulfillment NZ Rota" then Select.
        Screenshot shows the "Rota Templates" screen, with the Fulfillment NZ Rota highlighted.
  6. Save the request in the upper right.

Part 4: Processing requests for your library's materials, from your library's Pick List

The Pick List in Alma queues the requests for a library's materials, for a specific library. The purpose of the pick list for AFN resource sharing, is to help library staff retrieve material from the shelves for lending.

  1. Log into Alma with your staff username and password; select the Circulation desk.
  2. Under Fulfillment> Resource Requests> Pick from Shelf
    Screenshot shows the Alma Fulfillment menu, with Pick from Shelf highlighted.
  3. Limit the Request/Process Type facet to Patron Physical Item Requests
    Screenshot shows the facets on the Pick From Shelf List, with the Reqeust Process Type facet highlighted. The option "Patron physical item request" is also included in that highlighting.
  4. For the requests in your library's Pick from Shelf list, test all applicable printing scenarios at your library:
    • Individual requests using Quick Print
    • Multiple simultaneous requests using Quick Print
    • Sending requests directly to an email address-enabled printer (or email address) [email address for staff or printer will need to be white-listed in Alma to receive emails during test].
    • Sending requests to a print queue, processing that print queue
    • Download the Print Slip Report
      • NOTE: Downloading the Print Slip Report is an efficient way to work with the requests for testing purposes; this Excel file view includes the item barcode and the requested volume number.
    • Email the Print Slip Report to a staff member [staff members email address will need to be white-listed in Alma to receive emails during test].
    • Print the Print Slip Report to an email address-enabled printer (or email address) [email address for staff or printer will need to be white-listed in Alma to receive emails during test].
  5. The Pick list slip that will print is consortially formatted and managed by the CARLI Office in the Network Zone; this slip is a work in progress as we are continually learning about how it appears in different Alma scenarios.
    • The fields in the letter were selected in consultation with the CARLI Resource Sharing Committee.
    • The version of the letter you will see during the AFN test is not the version of the pick slip letter you will see long term; the CARLI Office is working with the letter's formatting, included fields, and will update the letter during and after the AFN testing period.
    • Sample Pick list slip, as of 3/10/2020:
      Screenshot shows an example of the Pick Slip letter, as it is formatted on 3/10/2020.
  6. If no item barcode prints on the request/is included in the request, the request is a title-level request.

    Note: When processing requests when Alma is live for production, you would not need to do this step; since you would have actually retrieved the item from the shelf, the barcode would be on that item for scanning in the next steps, Part 5.

    To find an item barcode you can use to fill the request (without actually retrieving the item from the shelf to scan), you have two known options:

    • Option 1:
      • Find the request in the pick from shelf list again, and click on the small number following the active requests link, see screenshot below.
        Screenshot showing request with the active requests link highlighted.
      • This will open a screen with more information about the request. The item barcode may be listed for the request.
        Screenshot showing the barcode column on the pending reqeust information page.
      • If a barcode is not listed, see option 2 below.
    • Option 2:
      • Find the request in the pick from shelf list again and select the ellipse.
      • Select "View Title in Search."
        Screenshot shows the "View Title in Search" option in the ellipse presented in the Pick From Shelf list.
      • Alma will search for the title, and display it in the search results.
      • From the result, select either the ellipse> Items from the menu, or the "Physical" option> and then select the "Items" option from the menu that will open.
        Screenshot shows the search result, with the two options to navigating to the item barcode highlighted.
      • Record the barcode for the item you will use to fill the request.

Part 5: Fill request from the Pick List, and transit to the patron's pick-up location.

During the Alma AFN test, you are NOT sending actual materials to other I-Share libraries.

  • Since Alma is NOT the system of record (Voyager is still in use), no actual materials should be shipped as part of testing.
  • As part of testing, you do NOT need to retrieve the requested materials from the shelf; you can process them in Alma using the barcode printed on the pick slip (if available), or, by locating the item barcode in Alma via search.

To fill a request from the pick list:

  1. Go to Fulfillment> Resource Requests> Scan in Items
    Screenshot showds the Fulfillment menu options, with Resouce Request's "Scan in Items" highlighted.
  2. The Scan in Items window will open.
    Screenshot shows the options available on the Scan it Items window. The place to enter the item barcode is highlighted.
  3. Scan/enter the barcode for the item included on the pick slip, pick slip report, or manually recorded as explained in Part 4, step 6 above.
  4. Alma will display where to transit the material to, or, whether to place it on the hold shelf at your library.
    Screenshot showing the Scan in Items screen, with the "destination" column highlighted.
  5. If the item should be transited to another I-Share institution, or another library at your institution, your library should print a paper transit slip as part of this process (using whichever printing method works best at your library).
  6. The Transit slip that will print is consortially formatted and managed by the CARLI Office in the Network Zone; this slip is a work in progress as we are continually learning about how it appears in different Alma scenarios.
    • The fields in the letter were selected in consultation with the CARLI Resource Sharing Committee.
    • The version of the letter you will see during the AFN test is not the version of the transit letter you will see long term; the CARLI Office is working with the letter's formatting, included fields, and will update the letter during and after the AFN testing period.
    • Note, the ILDS code is not yet able to be automatically printed; CARLI Staff are working on this.
    • Sample Transit Letter, as of 3/10/2020. Note, the ILDS code is not yet able to be automatically printed; CARLI Staff are working on this.
      Screenshot showing a sample Transit slip from Alma as of 3/10/2020.

Part 6: Send Transit Slips to other Libraries/Institutions for patron pick-up location.

  1. If the item should be transited to another I-Share institution, between March 10 and April 25th, you may send the Transit slip to the patron's pick up library using ILDS. You should send ONLY the transit slip; do NOT send the actual item.
    • If your institution is already sending an ILDS bag to the I-Share library, you may put the transit slip in that bag.
      • Do NOT count the transit slip as an item when making the bag label.
      • This is important so that the transit slip is NOT counted in the ILDS statistics.

    • If your institution is NOT already sending an ILDS bag to the I-Share library, you may put the transit slip in an otherwise empty bag.
      • When creating a label for this bag, be certain to select the checkbox that "This bag contains only delivery bags."
      • This is important so that the transit slip is NOT counted in the ILDS statistics.

Updated PART 6: Record Item Barcode in google spreadsheet for patron pick-up location.

  1. If the item should be transited to another I-Share library, open the Google Spreadsheet shared with the Alma/Primo VE contact on 3/31/2020.
    • In the Destination column, record the 3 letter code for the I-Share institution that the item is now in transit TO for the patron's pick-up location.
    • In the From column, record your institution's 2 letter I-Share code.
    • In the Item Barcode column, record the barcode of the item that is now in transit to the pick-up location. Copy/Paste from Alma is preferred to manually typing the barcode.
    • In the Date column, record today's date.
  2. I-Share library staff should check the Google Spreadsheet as often as they are able, to practice routing in items that are in transit to their library/institution for pick-up.

Part 7: Route items in for the Hold Shelf/ Route items in for Return Home

Library staff can periodically check the Google Spreadsheet for item barcodes in transit for pick-up at their library/institution.

When your library receives Alma Transit Slips in your ILDS delivery, set them aside for processing in Alma.

Do NOT process these requests in Voyager.

  • If the item barcode listed in the Google Spreadsheet represents another I-Share institution's item, you will likely be routing this item in for hold at your institution.
  • If the item barcode listed in the Google Spreadsheet represents your own institution's item, you will likely be routing this item in to re-shelve at home for your own institution.
  • See the correct section below for next steps.

Routing items in for hold

  1. Log into Alma with your staff username and password; select the Circulation desk.
  2. To route materials in for your hold shelf, go to Fulfillment> Resource Requests> Scan in Items
  3. Scan/enter the barcode for the item.
  4. Alma will display where to transit the material to (such as another branch library for patron pick-up), or, whether to place it on the hold shelf at your library. An item to be placed on the hold shelf is shown in the following screenshot.
    Screenshot shows the Scan in Items page, with the status of the scanned in items highlighted. The status of "On Hold Shelf" is highlighted in the Destination column, as well as the Requestor name.
    • NOTES:
      • At this time, Alma may not be set up to print a Hold Slip for staff use; this is currently under investigation by CARLI staff.
      • The value in the Requestor ID will not be helpful to you; this is the patron's linked user ID at the Item's Institution's library. See the tips below in "Part 8: Charge materials to patron from hold shelf" for directions on completing the charge during these AFN testing times.
  5. After scanning in the item for hold, make a note of the requestor's name on the Transit Slip. As printed staff-use hold slips are not currently working, you will use the name for reference when charging the material to the patron in Part 8.

Routing items in to "return home"

  1. Log into Alma with your staff username and password; select the Circulation desk.
  2. To route materials in to return home, go to Fulfillment> Resource Requests> Scan in Items
  3. Scan/enter the barcode for the item.
  4. Alma will display where to transit the material to (such as another library for final reshelving), or, whether to "reshelve" it at your current library where you are logged in.
    • Screenshot showing an item with the Destination of "Reshelve to x" where x is the item's shelving location.
      Screenshot showing the Scan in Items page with the results below. The Reshelve to Stacks destination is highlighted.
    • Screenshot showing an item with the Destination of another library at the institution, and a Request/Process type of "Transit for reshelving".
      This item will need to be scanned in at its home library before it can be reshelved.
      Screenshot showing an item scanned in, where the destination is another of the institution's libraries. The destination column is highlighted, as well as the Request/Process Type column.
  5. Once the item is ready to reshelve at its home library, the transaction is complete in Alma!

Part 8: Charge materials to patron from Hold Shelf

In production, a patron would visit the library's Circulation desk and alert staff that they have material on hold for them; the patron would have their ID card with them. During AFN testing, we need to search for the patron record by name, rather than by scanning their ID card.

  1. Go to Fulfillment> Checkout/Checkin> Manage Patron Services.
  2. Search for the user by the name that was listed on the Scan In Items screen as the Requester.
    • If you did not write down the requester name, visit Fulfillment> Active Hold Shelf, and find the title in the list. The Requester name should be listed in the display for the title.
  3. The patron services screen should open.
  4. Double-check that this is the patron who requested the item (again, since this is AFN testing, and we do not have a patron ID card to scan, we have an extra step).
    • If the item is an I-Share item, you should see it listed on the "Network Activity" tab.
    • If the item is a local item, you should see it listed on the "Requests" tab.
  5. After confirming the correct patron record has been retrieved, click on the Loans tab and scan/enter the item barcode.
  6. The item is now checked out to the patron.
    Screenshot shows a sample patron record on the Loan tab, with the checked out I-Share item displayed. The Due Date, Loan Type of Normal, and the item's institution detailsa are highlighted.

Part 9: Return items to items home library

  1. When you are ready to return an I-Share item, go to Fulfillment> Return Items.
    Screenshot shows the Fulfillment menu, with the Return Items option highlighted.
  2. The Return Items window will open. Scan/enter the item barcode that you are discharging (returning) from the patron.
    Screenshot shows the Return Items screen, with a sample barcode entered in the Scan item barcode option.
  3. If the item needs routed back home to its library, or to another library, Alma should display a pop-up.
    Screenshot showing a pop-up with the items destination.
    • Alma should also print a paper version of the consortially formatted transit slip for you to send to the library.
    • Sample Transit Letter, as of 3/10/2020. Note, the ILDS code is not yet able to be automatically printed; CARLI Staff are working on this.
      Example Alma Transit Letter, #52. As of 3/10/2020.
  4. If the item should be transited home to another I-Share institution, between March 10 and April 25th, you may send the Transit slip to the item's home library using ILDS.
    You should send ONLY the transit slip; do NOT send the actual item.
    • If your institution is already sending an ILDS bag to the I-Share library, you may put the transit slip in that bag.
      • Do NOT count the transit slip as an item when making the bag label.
      • This is important so that the transit slip is NOT counted in the ILDS statistics.
    • If your institution is NOT already sending an ILDS bag to the I-Share library, you may put the transit slip in an otherwise empty bag.
      • When creating a label for this bag, be certain to select the checkbox that "This bag contains only delivery bags."
      • This is important so that the transit slip is NOT counted in the ILDS statistics.

Step 4, Updated: If the item should be transited home to another I-Share library/institution, open the Google Spreadsheet shared with the Alma/Primo VE contacts on 3/31/2020.

  • In the Destination column, record the 3 letter code for the I-Share institution that the item is now in transit TO for returning home.
  • In the From column, record your institution's 2 letter I-Share code.
  • In the Item Barcode column, record the barcode of the item that is now in transit to its home library. Copy/Paste from Alma is preferred to manually typing the barcode.
  • In the Date column, record today's date.

I-Share library staff should check the Google Spreadsheet as often as they are able, to practice routing back in items that are in transit home to their library/institution..

Tips, Lessons Learned, and Known Issues from AFN testing

Tips

  • Contact staff at other I-Share libraries as needed. (posted 3/10/2020)
    • Your library is encouraged to contact other I-Share libraries to arrange to do coordinated testing together.
      • CARLI staff have uploaded copies of the Unique Title List to each I-Share library's CARLI FTP directory.
        • If you are working to test teh AFN with a partner library, ask them for their copy of their institutions Unique Titles List.
        • The Unique Title List can be helpful in that, if the testing partner is the only I-Share library with the title, then you can know your request will be for that library’s item.
        • Note: Not all items in the Unique Titles List can be requested. Primo VE will allow a patron to place a request for a title, even if no I-Share library can fulfill that request; Alma then updates the request to "Canceled" and would notify the requesting patron via email (if email is whitelisted for the patron during test).
  • As you place requests and process transactions, you are to evaluate your individual institution/library settings, and the structure of the AFN overall, are working as expected. (posted 3/10/2020)
    • You can email when you encounter something unexpected. Please include the expected behavior, the unexpected behavior that occurred, and examples that can help us to replicate the situation.
    • FYI: The CARLI Office is working with the Resource Sharing Committee on consortial versions of the Pick List Slips and the Transit letters; we will send an email when the consortial versions are ready.

Lessons Learned/Known Issues

  • Primo VE will allow a patron to place a request for a title, even if no I-Share library can fulfill that request; Alma then updates the request to "Canceled" and would notify the requesting patron via email (if email is whitelisted for the patron during test). (posted 3/10/2020)