Related product I-Share

Alma Letters: Overview and consortial letter management (Network Zone)

updated 9/02/2020

Overview

The Letters section in Alma is where system emails and printed slips can be edited for content and design. These are messages sent to printers, email, SMS, or other means. Every letter that can be sent to a printer/email can also be printed out using Quick Printing. 

Getting Started

Letters Configuration is found under the General tab in the Configuration section of Alma. 

  • Letter Content is Configured in Configuration > General > Letters > Letters Configuration
  • Header, Footer, and other Components that are used across all Letters are configured in Configuration > General > Letters > Component Configuration

To perform configurations to Letters, you must have one of the following user roles:

  • General System Administrator
  • Letter Administrator

Ex Libris Documentation

Letters Managed from the Network Zone

Consortially Managed Letters

At this time, the CARLI Office has identified two letters that we will manage consortially, so that the letter is consistent across all I-Share libraries.

  • Your library should not make changes to these consortially managed letters.
  • CARLI will maintain the consortial version in the Network Zone, and push updates that override individual library customizations to these three letters.
  • Before go-live, we may update these letters at any time as we are finalizing the current version of their formatting.
  • Once in production, we will notify library staff before we push changes to these letters.

Ful Resource Request Slip Letter

  • This letter most closely equates to the call slip in Voyager, however, it is used in Alma for request workflows beyond resource sharing.
  • The fields in this letter were selected in consultation with the CARLI Resource Sharing Committee, the committee historically responsible for Voyager’s consortial call slip formatting.
  • 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.
  • This letter will be formatted for printing on a receipt printer.
  • Regarding things we’ve learned thus far about this letter:
    • If no item barcode prints on the letter or is included in the request, the request is likely a title-level request.
    • If the request is an I-Share patron‘s request for your library’s item, the Patron ID that shows on the letter is the patron’s patron ID at your library; it is not the patron’s barcode - it is an internal-to-Alma, Alma-generated linking number. You can use that Patron ID to look up the patron’s record, but the patron’s home library cannot.
    • If, when discharging an item from a patron’s account, you go to Fulfillment -> Scan in Items, instead of Fulfillment -> Return Items, Alma will generate this letter instead of the transit letter that is covered below.

Ful Transit Slip Letter

  • This Alma letter is most akin to the Voyager Route Slip.
  • When filling a request for an item from the pick list, or discharging materials that need to be transited using the Fulfillment -> Return Items option, the Transit Slip that will print is consortially formatted and managed by the CARLI Office in the Network Zone.
  • 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 on the letter's formatting, included fields, and will update the letter during and after the AFN testing period.
  • This letter will be formatted for printing on a receipt printer.

Letters with Consortial Components

Right now, we have three letters in this list, but we may learn about others as we become more familiar with Alma and the letters it generates, and when.

Ful Overdue And Lost Loan Notification Letter

  • Alma uses the Fulfillment Overdue and Lost Loan Notification letter to format and send patrons overdue notices and warnings before an item becomes lost.
  • For more details: Alma: Overdue and Lost Loan Rules, with associated configuration settings
  • This letter has a consortial component, in that, when I-Share patron’s materials are considered overdue, and when the items are considered lost may be different than the policies for overdue and lost a library has for their own local patrons, and Alma has more flexibility with the letters than Voyager did. Since we need consistency across the consortium for the I-Share patrons, a portion of this letter’s customizations will be consortially constructed.
  • The Resource Sharing Committee has discussed the overdue and lost loan rule settings for I-Share patrons. CARLI will enter those settings into each library's Alma Configuration.
  • Libraries will be able to decide how they would like the overdue and lost rules set for their own local patrons.

Ful Overdue And Lost Loan Letter

  • Alma uses the Fulfillment Overdue and Lost Loan letter to format and send patrons notification for when an item has become considered lost and has been billed to the patron’s account.
  • For more details: Alma: Overdue and Lost Loan Rules, with associated configuration settings
  • This letter has a consortial component, in that, when I-Share patron’s materials are considered overdue, and when the items are considered lost may be different than the policies for overdue and lost a library has for their own local patrons, and Alma has more flexibility with the letters than Voyager did. Since we need consistency across the consortium for the I-Share patrons, a portion of this letter’s customizations will be consortially constructed.
  • The Resource Sharing Committee has discussed the overdue and lost loan rule settings for I-Share patrons. CARLI will enter those settings into each library's Alma Configuration.
  • Libraries will be able to decide how they would like the overdue and lost rules set for their own local patrons.

On Hold Shelf Letter 

  • This letter is similar to Voyager’s “Item Available Notice”; it’s the letter that is sent directly to patrons, to let them know that an item is ready for pickup at the hold shelf.
  • The reason this letter is being consortially managed, is because in Alma, the “On Hold Shelf Letter” is sent by the Item’s owning institution, not the patron’s pick-up library as it was in Voyager.
  • As such, we need this letter to be broadly applicable, without containing specific contact details or direction for pick-up.
  • CARLI Staff have not yet begun working with the Resource Sharing Committee on this letter’s formatting, but will have a consortial version pushed from the Network Zone before the May 1 Alma Configuration freeze.
  • The following files can be uploaded under the On Hold Shelf Letter's "Letter Examples" tab to create a letter example. This will create a Preview Letter, which can assist with letter editing.

Letters with Initial CARLI Office Customizations

The CARLI Office plans to push out some basic letter customizations for all libraries who have not yet done their own customizations to the letters in their own Alma Configuration.

Ful Hold Shelf Request Slip Letter

  • We’ll fully customize one specific letter, the Fulfillment Hold Shelf Request Slip Letter, which is similar to the Voyager Hold Shelf slip.
  • This is the letter that is printed to the circulation desk printer when the item is placed on the hold shelf.
  • In conversations with the Resource Sharing Committee members, there was interest in having the CARLI Office do an initial customization of this letter’s formatting, to place the requesting patron’s name, and the expiration date near the top.
    • Once we’ve customized the letter, we’ll push the format out from the Network Zone in a way that will not overwrite an institution’s version of the letter, if the institution has already customized the letter in their own Alma Configuration.
    • We will plan to make the XML available, if a library that has done customizations would like to preview how the CARLI-customized version of the letter will look.
  • As an FYI- currently, this letter is not being printed as expected. CARLI has a support ticket open with Ex Libris about this letter.

Initial CARLI Office Customizations across all letters

The CARLI Office has planned to push out some basic letter customizations for all libraries who have not yet done their own customizations to the letters in their own Alma Configuration. We've pushed out these changes from the Network Zone in a way that didnot overwrite an institution’s version of the letter, if the institution had already customized the letter in their own Alma Configuration.

Greeting

  • CARLI has replaced the default "Dear Sir/Madam" greeting, with “Hello.”

Date Format

  • The CARLI Office has confirmed all date fields are in MM/DD/YYYY format, when appropriate.

Letter Reference

  • The CARLI Office added the name of each letter to the bottom of each Alma Letter. As we're learning Alma, and learning under what conditions and workflows each letter is produced, it can be helpful to know exactly which letter we're seeing.
  • After a library is comfortable with the letters being generated, they can edit the letters to remove the letter reference. Directions are available below.