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Troubleshooting Alma/Primo VE Broken Links

Last Updated May 22, 2024

Introduction: When the Primo VE link doesn't work!

  • Who is this web page intended for?
    • Any library staff involved with finding e-resources via Primo VE and Alma and troubleshooting problem linking through the link resolver.
    • E-resources librarians and their colleagues working on reports of poor Alma linking related to authentication, cataloging or InterLibrary Loans.

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1.Re-create the search and find the problem linking again. See if you can connect using the link. Sometimes linking issues are temporary, and you can't replicate the problem. If you are able to get the full text now, ask your patron to search again after clearing their browser cache and search history (or send them the full text file.)

If that doesn't work then,

2.Try another web browser than what the patron used. Preferably use an incognito or private window. Sometimes linking issues are related to a particular web browser or caching/cookies issue. The problem may not appear in a different browser. If this now works for you, ask your patron to search again after clearing cache and cookies and then opening a fresh browser window.

If the linking issue can be replicated, investigate further depending on error messages or the patron's story.

1. You can get to the e-book or article when on campus. But the off-campus patron is getting "Access denied" or "You must authenticate..." type messages like:

auth_fail.jpg Or


a. Does the patron have an active authentication login? Does it work? If no, help them get a working campus authentication login, unless they have no valid claim to such an account.  If the patron is searching directly via a free or paid index directly, send to patron to the library website or discovery system to redo their search and be prompted to login.

b. Can the patron login to your library's e-collections in general, but not this particular e-collection? If yes, then it may be a problem with just this e-collection or its vendor.  

  • Check if the e-collection has up-to-date proxy settings in your Alma institution zone and (if applicable) in your EZ Proxy config file or OpenAthens Administration settings. If the library is not in charge of this proxying, follow up with your campus' designated proxy/authentication staff.
  • Check with EZ Proxy or OpenAthens to see if they have recently changed any config stanzas or other settings for this particular vendor/interface, regardless of your Alma institution zone settings. If needed, update your library config files/settings to reflect recent changes from EZ Proxy or OpenAthens.
  • If problems persist, contact the vendor and confirm they have up to date proxy IP ranges for your campus including any EZ Proxy or OpenAthens IP ranges. Vendors can lose IP ranges. Or due to human error or changes in the vendor's platform, your library's IP ranges and the proxy details can be incorrect.
    • If you have access to your library's administrative account on vendor site, log in. Check if the account has the correct IP range for the institution. EZproxy IP or Open Athens IP must be included in the IP ranges. If needed, update the IP range on the library administrative account. If the account does not allow customers to update the IP ranges, contact your vendor.  Note some vendors manage IP ranges using You may also need to update the institution’s IP range at

2. The Patron Gets "Access Denied" or "You Must Authenticate..." When On-Campus.

  • Have them try restarting the web browser. If that doesn't work, restart the computer or other device. It may be a temporary glitch in your campus network or at the vendor's servers recognizing that particular browser or computer/device.
  • Check if you can link via Primo VE to other e-collections from the same vendor. For example, if Gale "Opposing Viewpoints" links don't connect, try Gale "Academic OneFile". If other e-collections from the same vendor are not working, check their web site to see if they have any system status issues.
  • If the access denied messages continue (especially for other titles in the entire e-collection or multiple e-collections from the same vendor), contact the vendor and confirm they have up to date on campus IP ranges for your library (including any EZ Proxy or OpenAthens IP ranges.)

1. Check if your library has an active portfolio for the periodical or ebook in your Alma Institution Zone (IZ). Look up the title in question. For example:

Sample_JAMA article.gif

Look up the portfolio in your Alma IZ and Go to Edit Portfolio:

Look up Portfolio.gif

Check if the portfolio or e-collection have recent "Modification Dates". Check CZUTL listings for any changes to e-collection, service or portfolio linking parameters, parser or parser parameter changes. These may help explain the poor linking.

2. Date Coverage Issues

Check the vendor's interface (or collection title lists) to confirm the title is still available to your library and for what years. For example:

JAMA Vendor Interface backup2.jpg

Investigate if the date coverage in the vendor's interface (or title list) matches what your Alma institution zone's active portfolio has as date coverage. There may be an embargo period change or other recent changes in date coverage information. Aggregator e-collections often have changes such as a particular vendor like EBSCOhost or Gale no longer having the title for the years and volumes that the Alma portfolio states. For example, you might find that what Alma says should be 1990 to present full text is now 1990 to 2005 only.

To edit date coverage, look up the portfolio and go to "Electronic Portfolio Editor." See How to edit date coverage section in Ex Libris Alma documentation

Portfolio Editing sample.gif

Then report the date coverage error to Ex Libris Alma Support or to CARLI Support. See "Reporting Problem Linking".

3. Not Really Free/Open Access

You may find the periodical or ebook is freely available according to Alma. However, you and your patrons encounter paywalls. You should deactivate the portfolio in your IZ or email if the portfolio is a Network Zone "Activated/Provided by CARLI..." For your IZ portfolios, then report that the title is no longer Open Access/Free to Ex Libris Alma Support. See "Reporting Problem Linking".

For example, this supposedly OpenAccess citation:

 Free_OpenQuestion Mark1.gif

Took the patron to:

Free_OpenQuestion Paywall.jpg

Find a version of the citation in a different e-resource. Compare it to the information from the bad linking citation. Do any of these common metadata citation errors appear?

1. One of the citations has a different journal title or ISSN. Research if the periodical's title and/or ISSN has changed over time. The e-collection may not have access to the exact periodical the article is in. This is especially true for journals with multiple title changes, predecessor and successor titles or supplements/special issues.

  • For example, this article in "Business Week" could not connect to full text because the link resolver did not have enough details to connect it to the right portfolio among those for periodicals:
    • Bloomberg businessweek
    • Business week 
    • Businessweek
    • Business week (Industrial edition)

Biz Week example1.gif


2. Could numbers have been flipped or typed incorrectly? For example, you check the publisher's website and find the correct volume is 24 but the citation says volume 42, or date 01/10/2019 was mixed up into 10/01/2019. Dates may be different for the same periodical article, for ex. Spring 2019 versus April 1, 2019. Try looking for the correct dated citation in Primo VE and see if linking works from the new result. Report citation errors using procedures at "Reporting Problem Linking".

GenericArticle Ex1.gif


3. Does the periodical have different versions/editions? Common especially for news publications, for example "New York Times" has Eastern edition, National edition, Web only version, etc. Some scholarly journals have preprint or online advanced articles that are not available via aggregator e-collections. Also note supplements or special issues of periodicals may _not_ be in aggregators, for example JSTOR e-collections usually do not include supplement issues from scholarly journals.

Is the article in an edition of the periodical that the Alma e-collection does _not_ have in full text? You may find the edition in the details of the Primo VE citation as this example shows:


If your library does not subscribe to the precise version of the periodical for this article, you have no access.

4. Is the article very new? Perhaps it is not yet in the Alma e-collection because of an embargo period or is still being processed for addition to the e-collections full text? Some journals have preprint or online early released articles that are not available via aggregator e-collections. Such "early released" citations often lack clear volume, issue and page numbering. 

5. Is the poorly linking citation missing key information like author, periodical title, ISSN/ISBN/DOI/PMID, date, volume, starting page, etc.? Authors names can also occasionally affect linking if the order of authors varies among citations or the first author's name has possible spelling variations, for ex. "MacDonald, Jessie" or "Mc Donald, Jessica".

For these case of poor, incomplete or missing metadata, report the errors (with a permalink) to Ex Libris Alma Support or to CARLI Support. See "Reporting Problem Linking".

6. Special citation cases

  • Goes to journal level not to article: Most likely this is a free or Open Access periodical. Their linking often does _not_ go to article level linking. Rather the patron is taken to a periodical's home page and has to look up the article there. For example: Citation to OpenAccess_journalLevel_only1.gif

      The "Free E-Journals" link takes the patron to this screen and the user has to search or click down to v. 67, issue 4, etc.


There's no Alma or Primo VE setting to change the linking level from title to article. That is part of the e-collection's design and parameters.


  • No full text for just this article: Rarely you will find an article in an otherwise full text journal that the author has _not_ authorized for full text display. There may be a note to this effect when you find the article in the vendor's interface. For example, this article in EBSCOhost e-collections:


has a note about why no full text is available.


There's nothing you can change in Alma/Primo VE to display full text not in an e-collection.


  • Multiple articles on same page: A publisher may group several very short or sub-articles as a larger article under a single title. There may not be an identifier like DOI or PMID for each article. In these situations, Alma/Primo VE may either direct users to the first article on the page rather than the article desired, OR show a list of articles all on the same periodical issues' page. Some common multiple articles on one page types are book reviews, opinion columns and brief news articles. For example:

Citation that leads to multiple on same page.gif

Goes to:

Multiple short articles on one page results.gif

1. Wrong E-Collection's Portfolio: Many of the Community Zone (CZ) e-collections have very similar names and come from the same vendor/interface. If you are able to get to the journal or ebook in the vendor's interface, but not via Primo VE, you may have an incorrect e-collection active in your Institution Zone. For example, a library found persistent issues with accessing articles in the journal "Homiletic," ISSN 0738-0534, via Primo VE and EBSCOhost ATLA e-journals. After checking their purchases, we discovered they had activated the wrong e-collection among these four very similarly titled collections:

  • EBSCOhost AtlaSerials, Religion Collection
  • EBSCOhost ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
  • EBSCOhost AtlaSerials PLUS, Religion Collection
  • EBSCOhost Atla Religion Database with AtlaSerials PLUS

After activating the exact e-collection that matched their purchases, the linking worked. While these e-collections cover mostly the same journals, the linking parsers and EBSCO records of IP ranges are tied to a specific e-collection.

If your library has purchased access to the e-resource in question via the CARLI brokering system, see the CARLI Selection System for details.

2. No Customer ID or Local Library Identifier in Your Institution Zone E-collection: Some vendors/interfaces including Gale, Ebook Central, ProQuest and EBSCOhost require customer IDs, OPIDs, library identifiers and the like in your institution zone e-collections. For examples and how to add or edit these IDs see "Electronic Collections & Library's Customer and Location IDs."


3. We find the full text portfolio in the community zone but not in our institution zone's e-collection: While any Institution Zone (IZ) e-collections linked to the Community Zone (CZ) should be updated automatically, you may find your IZ e-collection is out of sync with the CZ version. One or both can also be out of sync with the vendor's title list. Note: the synchronization is dependent on the Yes/No setting "Activate new portfolios associated with the collection" at the Electronic Service Editor level.

If the periodical or ebook portfolio is in the CZ version but not your library's IZ version, look up the e-collection in your IZ. Then go to the Service Editor level. Use the "Electronic Service Editor- Portfolio tab" then the "Add all Portfolios from Community" function to update your IZ e-collection.

Load all p from cz.jpg

If you have a widespread syncing issue for the whole e-collection, completely delete the IZ e-collection and add a fresh copy via the CZ. Save any needed Acquisitions info or local customizations before deleting the older IZ e-collection.

1. Documenting pages in Primo VE: Include Permalinks:

If you are reporting an issue with a record in Primo VE to either CARLI or Ex Libris, please include a permalink for an example title or citation. You can copy the permalink from the Full Record page in Primo VE by clicking the "PERMALINK" action in the "Send To" section of the page.

Permalink find example.gif

If the question is about search results, please send the URL from your browser of the search results page. Describe what search you were performing, including the Search Scope slot being used. The Search Scope determines which indexes are being used in the search, so searching for the same terms in a different scope will affect the results retrieved.

Search Link PVE.gif

2. When and How to Report the Problem linking to CARLI Support:

Please send to any such issues with Network Zone portfolios so that CARLI can change them for every I-Share library. These are the links that include "Provided by CARLI..." OR "Activated by CARLI" in the Primo VE "View Online" section. For ex. PVE_activatedByCARLI.jpg

CARLI staff will follow up with any fixes for access, and (if needed) report the problem on behalf of I-Share to Ex Libris Alma support.
When reporting problems, or even when asking questions, please be as specific as possible and try to answer as many of the following questions as you can. Not every problem is generalizable, and CARLI staff will try to replicate your experience.

  • Who: User or patron experiencing the problem, or user group(s) that have the issue?
  • What: MMS ID or barcode of one or more titles/items, Primo VE permalinks or search URLs?
  • When: Time the event occurred?
  • Where: What zone (IZ, NZ), library, menu, search? On or off-campus? By PC, Mac, tablet, phone?
  • Why: Describe the context. What you were trying to do? What steps did you take to get the error or issue?

3. When and How to Report the Problem linking to Ex Libris Alma:

More details on reporting problems linking to Ex Libris Alma Support

Report problems with linking to e-collections active in your Institution Zone to Ex Libris Alma support.

Use the "Report Problem to Ex Libris link" when possible:


Describe the problems in the box marked by a star on this illustration. Then "Send" the report.


1. How can I get more info on the OpenURL information using Display CTO?

2. Related Ex Libris Alma Documentation

To Learn how to edit portfolios, see section "Editing a Portfolio Using the Electronic Portfolio Editor" at Managing Alma Electronic Resources

What Are the Common Causes of Full Text linking Problems and How to Improve Linking?