Self-Check Integration Testing

Libraries that have self-check and self-service equipment in place for Voyager will want to begin working on their integrations in Alma, so that these systems will be ready to go live on June 24, 2020. Self-check integrations will require some configuration work in Alma and some modifications to your local equipment.

In addition to support from Ex Libris and CARLI, you should plan to involve staff from library and/or institution IT, your library’s Certified Alma administrator, possibly one or more circulation staff, and your equipment vendor. Each institution should plan to pick a day or days when the integration will be tested against Alma, during which time the equipment would not communicate with Voyager. Before beginning, you and your team should view the Ex Libris video presenting Integration with Self-Service Systems.[1] 

Importantly, to use self-service equipment with Alma, you will need to work with your equipment vendor and IT group to implement stunnel[2] on a server or self-service station as a way to secure communications with Alma.

You can learn more about the Alma Self-Check integration[3] in the Ex Libris Knowledge Center.

Please note, this self-check integration does not apply to libraries that use SIP2 only for authenticating users to resources, nor to libraries using the Voyager CircSelfCheck.exe self-check client.

To start work on these integrations, contact CARLI at support@carli.illinois.edu.

Overview of the process

  1. Contact your IT group and your self-check system vendor. Identify that as part of the migration to Alma, you will need to configure and test the system in advance. Your IT group and your vendor will need to advise you on where stunnel should be installed (the workstation or a separate server). They should be able to document the steps used to configure your system for Alma, so that the work may be replicated when I-Share libraries switch to Alma on June 24, 2020. Coordinate a date or dates to do the configuration and testing; testing may require several hours. Share with them ALL documentation presented and linked on this document.
  2. Create a self-check integration profile. This involves creating a profile for each self-check system in use at the library, and identifying which services are available from that machine (e.g., check-out, check-in, renew, accept payments).
  3. Associate the self-check profile with a circulation desk definition. This could be an existing circulation desk definition or a unique circulation desk that limits activities and policies applied on the self-check system.
  4. Make a back-up of your existing self-check machine settings. You will need to reapply these settings after testing the connection with Alma.
  5. Install and configure stunnel software on the self-check machine or on a server between the machine and the Internet. Configuration of stunnel includes applying certificate details downloaded from the Alma self-check integration that you created above, and configuring the Alma domain and ports for communications. Your IT group may also need to ensure that the ports used for stunnel communication are allowed by your institution’s firewall. Note: Your self-check machine will connect to stunnel; stunnel will communicate with Alma.
  6. Configure the self-check machine with the details needed to connect Alma via stunnel. You will likely need the assistance of the vendor and your IT group to modify this configuration.
  7. Test circulation transactions on the self-check machine, using combinations of users and items that test the use the fulfillment rules for the given library.
  8. Restore the self-check machine’s configuration to what you need for Voyager. (Effectively, you will change your self-check machine to point back to Voyager instead of stunnel. You may leave stunnel in place and connecting to Alma.

Additional Process Comments

  • In step 4 of the instructions to create an integration profile,[3, midpage] you are prompted for the SC Identifier. This is generally what the self-check machine’s identification is, and should match the configuration of the self-check machine itself.
  • In step 3 of the instructions to add a profile to a circulation desk,[3, bottom] there is a field for Terminal Password. You should not need to change this from whatever Alma supplies. Typically the security certificate that you download will identify the machine to Alma. Remember, the self-check machine will communicate to stunnel; stunnel will communicate to Alma.
  • You may use a single integration for multiple self-check machines if the circulation points offer the same set of services.
  • If you have multiple self-check machines and want to track use separately, using separate integration profiles may be desirable.
  • If you use only one self-check integration profile, you may choose to assign that profile to your DEFAULT_CIRC_DESK or create a new circulation desk for that self-check profile.
  • If you use multiple self-check profiles, you should plan to create separate circulation desk definitions for those self-check profiles.

Resources

[1] YouTube. Ex Libris Channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-q-mCc33Bo&hd=1

[2] Ex Libris Developer Network. Setting Up Stunnel. https://developers.exlibrisgroup.com/alma/integrations/selfcheck/stunnel/

[3] Ex Libris Knowledge Center. Self-Check Machines. https://knowledge.exlibrisgroup.com/Alma/Product_Documentation/010Alma_Online_Help_(English)/090Integrations_with_External_Systems/040Fulfillment/060Self-Check_Machines