Description – Implementation of Alma and Primo VE
Over the next year, the Library will be migrating from the current Integrated Library System (ILS) Voyager system to Alma and Primo VE, Ex Libris’ cloud-hosted library management systems and discovery instance. The ILS Coordination Team will coordinate the implementation of the Alma/Primo systems. Working with individuals at the Consortium of Academic Research Libraries (CARLI) and Ex Libris project managers, the ILS Coordination Team will configure the functional workflows and services of both systems. The Team will also work to implement and configure the Primo Discovery system as the public interface of the Library’s online catalog.
What are Alma and Primo VE?
An all-in-one system offered by Ex Libris that covers all library operations: selection, acquisition, metadata management, digitization, and fulfillment. Alma is a cloud-based (SaaS) unified library services platform that helps manage the Library’s print, electronic, and digital materials into a single interface. Primo VE is a new deployment model that combines the backend processes of both Alma and Primo VE into one integrated platform.
The Primo Central Discovery Index (CDI) is a mega-aggregation of hundreds of millions of scholarly e-resources. Primo VE integrates with the Primo Central Index in the same way as other Primo deployment models. The Library can activate the collections we wish to expose for searching, and the results can be displayed as blended or separate from the locally managed records. The Library manages our electronic resources in Alma, which then publishes the holdings information to Primo VE, indicating which resources should be displayed as full text available. Primo VE also has a feature that enables the Library to match physical and electronic holdings. In addition to showing the electronic services available, Primo VE also checks to see if there are any relevant physical holdings and shows users that the library also holds a physical copy for that resource.
Library-wide training and information sessions on Alma and the Primo Catalog
Recordings of the many training and information sessions are below:
Searching and Navigating in Alma — Introductory Session
Primo Library Catalog Zoom Sessions
Alma Fulfillment and Circulation Overview Zoom Sessions
Alma Cataloging and Resource Management Training and Documentation
Alma Fulfillment and Circulation Overview Zoom Sessions
Janelle Sander held Zoom online sessions focused on Alma Fulfillment and Circulation functions. The links below are recordings for these sessions. Login through University of Illinois campus authentication is required to view the sessions.
Alma and Primo General Overview Zoom Sessions
The ILS Coordination Team will be holding two new overview information sessions occurring over the next six weeks. These Zoom online sessions will give updates of where we are at with the Alma/Primo implementation, go over the remaining timelines and deadlines leading up to June 24th, give live demos of both systems, and highlight the upcoming Alma training sessions occurring in April and May 2020. These two overview sessions will occur on:
May 7 2020 Zoom Session
April 29 2020 Zoom Session
March 31 2020 Zoom Session
For additional training resources for Alma and Primo, see the Alma Training site at:
Weekly Zoom sessions for Introduction to the Primo Library Catalog:
From March 24, 2020 to June 30, 2020, a new Zoom online session will occur each Tuesday at 2 pm. The link-in information is below:
Topic: Primo Catalog Info Sessions
Join Zoom Meeting — Meeting ID: 466 789 933
Weekly Zoom Session url link
Join by Skype for Business
Weekly Zoom Session Join by Skype for Business link
Search Exercises to explore the new Primo Library Catalog
Video Recordings of previous Zoom sessions for Introduction to the Primo Library Catalog:
We have recorded multiple sessions of the Zoom introductory webinars and these are accessible at the below links:
Video Recording and PowerPoint presentations for Alma/Primo VE implementation session:
ILS Coordination Team Reports to CAPT and Library Office Notes
PowerPoint presentation on Alma/Primo VE implementation
Progress Report of the ILS Coordination Team activity since March 2019
Alma and Primo VE Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The CARLI Office has created a site with answers to frequently asked questions so far during the test migration and implementation of Alma and Primo VE. This information can be found at:
Timeline of the Implementation of Alma and Primo VE
The ongoing schedule for the implementation of Alma/PrimoVE systems at UIUC Library includes:
Activity so far during the Implementation of Alma and Primo
March 12, 2019 – Kick off meeting for the Vanguard Test Phase with Ex Libris Project team, CARLI, and the five libraries involved with the Vanguard Test Phase of Alma/PrimoVE implementation.
March 13th to April 25th, 2019 – We have been working daily with Ex Libris and CARLI to get our data ready to migrate into the new systems. In the next few weeks, Ex Libris will copy and extract the Library’s entire catalog (including Acquisitions, Cataloging, and Circulation data) to do a test load into Alma. Since the last report, we have been busy filling out the various implementation forms including to prepare for this test migration and configuration:
- Migration Form for mapping our existing data from Voyager over to Alma’s structured setup
- Configuration Form to help setup Alma/Primo systems for how we want them to operate
- Print 2 Electronic (p2e) process to identify all the Library’s electronic resources to populate the online inventory of etitles
- Primo VE Worksheet to configure the discovery layer of Primo interface
April 26th to April 30th – Ex Libris successfully extracted our Voyager and SFX data and records and migrated it over to UIUC Library’s test Instances of Alma and Primo. Overall, it took about 3.5 days (82 hours) to complete the extraction. Both the CARLI Office and members of the ILS Implementation Team were observing the process to see if production activity was impacted from the extraction and we did not detect any noticeable slow-down of processes. This will be good information to have for later extractions of our data.
May 21st, 2019 – After the extraction of our data and then the mapping process of data to Alma structure, we were delivered a test instance of our Alma System. We are currently testing how our data and records migrated over and how it mapped over from the configuration information we supplied to Ex Libris in building up the Acquisitions, Cataloging/Resource Management, Fulfillment/Circulation, User Management, and Analytics sections of the system. See the screenshots below for the initial Alma Dashboard screen and dropdown options in the Resources Management section
Week of May 27th, 2019 – The Library will receive a complete test instance of our Primo Discovery instance. This version of Primo is very different from the one that the Library experimented back in 2012-2014. The library is configuring this version to basically replace the Voyager and VuFind online catalog search. We will be activating a few electronic and digital collections within the Primo Central Index, including IDEALS, HathiTrust public domain titles, Biodiversity Heritage Library, Center for Research Libraries (CRL) holdings, several Alexander Street Press collections, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, and Naxos Digital Library.
May 27th, 2019 – The ILS Coordination Team did receive a Vanguard Test version of the Library’s Primo instance. It is completely different version from the previous Primo instance the Library had back in 2012-2014. It has a much different interface, a combined Ex Libris and ProQuest Central Index of collections that can be activated by the Library, and there are additional options in creating individual search scopes/profiles (for Catalog only search, WorldCat search, IDEALS and local digital collections, ProQuest Newspaper Collections search, Course Reserves, DataSets, and other possibilities). We have viewed that known-item search capabilities are improved. Relevancy ranking appears to be better than in the previous version with Primo now being able to search across various fields (author, title, publisher, pubdate, etc.) and bring the best matched to the top of results lists. We are looking forward to testing out the Primo and Alma APIs to incorporate searches into Easy Search Bento Discovery.
Month of June 2019 – We have been busily testing the migration of our Voyager and SFX data into the Alma system. We received our Vanguard test instance of Alma on May 21st and we are doing some initial testing and observation of the migration of data and how it mapped over into the structure of the Alma system. Good news. We did observe that most of the acquisitions, bibliographic records, holdings data, items data, SFX knowledgebase activations, Reserve items, Library patron information, items with circulation statuses, and library location information did migrate over successfully. There were some issues with the migration of our data including:
- Ex Libris use of a Master bibliographic record that overrides some of our local versions of bibliographic records
- Representation of analyzed titles and boundwiths in both Alma and Primo
- Technical categories being assigned to items in Voyager that have a status (In Process, Lost, Missing, etc.)
- Information normally recorded in the Voyager holding record not showing in the Primo discovery instance
Month of July 2019 – We are entering the 2nd Test Phase of the implementation of Alma and Primo VE. The Vanguard Test Phase of the five I-Share libraries was completed on June 28th. The UIUC Library will continue to have access to the Vanguard Test instances of Alma and Primo VE through September 30th 2019. We will also continue to have access to the Ex Libris Project Team through the end of September as well as we continue to test the Vanguard Test version of both Alma and Primo VE. On July 9th, CARLI and Ex Libris held the 2nd Kick-Off meeting that pulled in representatives from all 91 I-Share libraries that will be involved with migrating and implementing the Alma/Primo VE systems over this next year.
In mid-October 2019, the Library will receive a new Test Phase instance of Alma and Primo.
We do continue to test the migration of the Library’s data from Voyager and SFX into Alma. There have been some major issues we do want Ex Libris to address in the near-term and in future stages of the implementation. The most important problem we have encountered so far is the performance issues with slowness of both the Alma and Primo VE systems in returning search results. Also, facets are not displaying properly at times. If one clicks too soon as results are resolving, the system hangs up and the user has to re-initialize the search or even start over completely. This will need to be addressed during the 2nd Test Phase of the implementation.
Month of August 2019 – We are currently finishing the migration forms and starting the configuration forms for the 2nd Test Phase of the implementation. Being part of the Vanguard Test Phase of five initial libraries helped the Team see were new decisions needed to be made in building up the structure in Alma and the display of Library holdings in Primo. For this phase, we are able to reduce the number of physical library locations from 92 down to 31 separate libraries and archive over 400 outdated sub-locations of libraries that have merged or closed over the past 17 years. We have been doing cleanup of patron circulation categories and decreasing the circulation matrices down to a more manageable number (it has highlighted on a recent CARLI conference call that the UIUC Library had over 73,000 unique circulation policies in place in Voyager). We should be able to get this number down to 25-30 circulation policies in Alma.
By the end of the September, CARLI and Ex Libris will extract the Library’s data from Voyager and SFX for the second time and map that over to Alma. Around October 15th, we will receive a new test instance of both Alma and Primo VE populated with this second extraction of data. After setting up clearances and permissions in Alma by the end of October, the ILS Coordination Team will make the test instances of Alma and Primo VE available to early adopters (several representatives from each library and unit) and start offering training on using the systems in early 2020.
We are working to incorporate Primo VE results into Easy Search Bento. We want the Primo results to showcase the online catalog holdings related to the search words input by users. Currently we are pulling the online catalog results from the VuFind catalog (utilizing the returned XML data to populate the Easy Search results seen above in the
screenshot). For Primo VE we will need to utilize the available Primo Search API or possibly the Alma Bibs API or Alma Electronic Resources API (to pull back e-access availability for electronic resources, mostly e-serials titles). We are encountering performance issues with all of the Ex Libris APIs currently with most initial calls against Alma and Primo timing out and not returning the XML metadata associated with each resource or record. We do hope these performance issues will be addressed by Ex Libris and improve the response times for these API calls during the secondTest Phase in the Fall. We have reached out for some additional help from colleagues at the University of Wisconsin at Madison to better understand the use of API calls against Alma and Primo for their Blacklight instance. We have just learned that Ex Libris will be offering a webinar to us from their API Development Team in early September and this will hopefully benefit us to learn more about incorporating the various APIs into our developing workflows in both Alma and Primo VE.
We did have some good news last week regarding the ability to pull in metadata records from our IDEALS Institutional Repository into Primo VE. We are able to map over the Dublin Core records into Primo’s structured XML setup. We can use OAI-PMH to harvest in all records currently in the IDEALS system and make weekly updates from these external sources. We did encounter an issue with the mapping of resource type (labelling IDEALS holdings as “Other” rather than its true format of dissertation, conference dataset, presentation, article, etc.) from IDEALS to Primo but we should be able to correct these errors with the next refresh of data harvested from IDEALS.
Month of September 2019 – On September 18th, we submitted the Library configuration form for the 2nd Test Phase of the setup of Alma/Primo VE. This submission also included the Migration Form data, the Primo VE workbook, and the updated configuration form data for the setup of the Fulfillment/Circulation options. We were able to reduce the number of libraries down to 32 individual locations (from a total of 92 in the Vanguard Test Phase) and lower the total number sub-locations to 382 (down from 815 in the first test phase) in this setup in Alma/Primo VE. This will make the migration of the Voyager data easier to map over to Alma and also makes it more manageable to configure both systems and cleanup the defunct locations from Voyager. We did create a locations archive for legacy data to ensure migration of that information too.
The CARLI Office and Ex Libris Implementation Project team will work with all this data to produce the next Alma/Primo VE Test Instances for our Library and also for the other 90 libraries in the I-Share consortium. The target date for the Library to get this 2nd Test Instance is mid–October 2019 (around October 15th). We have been told that the five Vanguard libraries may get our test instances earlier than the rest since they have already loaded and mapped our data previously. Soon after we get the 2nd Test Instance of Alma and Primo VE and we add back the changes and configurations we made to Primo VE during our testing phase, we will share the Test Instance of Primo VE with the Library to begin initial examination of the system and demonstrate how we will integrate it into Easy Search Bento and the Library’s various search environments.
Starting in November 2019, we will start to have multiple information sessions going forward about Primo VE, particularly concentrating on the different ways Alma and Primo VE handle and access to electronic resources (as it is very different from the way Voyager and VuFind promotes e-journals, databases, and e-books). Watch for an announcement about those Primo VE information sessions to occur starting in November and stretching into the Spring 2020.
As of the third week in September, our Primo VE has been inactivated until they reload all of our Voyager and SFX data again (to occur sometime over the next 2-3 weeks). This means a lot of our testing has been suspended for a little while. We do still have access to ageneric version of Primo VE(limited view of about 65,000 records). This data is “not” UIUC Library data but pulled randomly from various source records.
We did have a WebEx information session with Josh Weisman and the Ex Libris API team on September 18th to discuss some of the performance issues we have been having with the Primo Search API and the inability to pulling in bibliographic data and electronic resource holdings information into Easy Search Bento through these API calls against Primo VE. When the Library goes live with Primo VE in June 2020, we will lose access to the VuFind catalog at that time as well. We will need to replace the online catalog data we currently receive from VuFind with data from Primo VE to successfully replicate the service we provide currently to users. From information in our discussion with Josh Weisman, there may be multiple options to pull this bibliographic and e-holding availability from either Primo VE or Alma directly or maybe a combination of API calls against both systems to gain the relevant information to populate Easy Search Bento going forward.
Unfortunately, we will not be able to immediately test some of the suggested options revealed during the call as we will not have access to an active Alma/Primo VE for another 2-3 weeks. Hopefully when we do regain access we can start to re-test some of these API calls, we can have better results pulling this needed information from Primo VE into the Easy Search results.
October 2019 to the present
For additional updates of work occurring on the Alma and Primo VE implementation, see the ILS Coordination Team monthly reports above.
Screenshot of a Primo VE sample search:
Information and training sessions on Alma and Primo VE
There are large representations of documentation and training videos on Alma and PrimoVE on the Ex Libris Essentials pages. A full list of available sessions can be viewed at the Ex Libris Essentials site at:
Charge of the ILS Coordination Team
The ILS Coordination Team will oversee the implementation of Alma/Primo to have it ready to utilize by all Library employees by the defined Go-Live date of summer 2020. The Team will be responsible for configuring the ILS system for successful use by Library personnel to acquire, catalog, manage, inventory, and share/utilize the Library’s Collections. The Coordination Team will define and configure the workflows, processes, and best practices for the individual sections of the new system. This will require successful completion of the Alma Certification Training courses to be able to access the configuration menus of the sandbox and production environments. The individuals appointed to the Team will be the expert and decision-maker for these individual functional areas of the system. The Team will also produce and review documentation and training materials for the new system to prepare Library personnel to work with the new system. The team will help test all aspects of the new system to help configure to most optimal settings for the Library. The ILS Coordination Team will continuously communicate out to the Library the status of the implementation to the new system, and inform how it will impact their work. Finally, as the coordination team concludes its work on the implementation, the Team will be tasked with providing a preliminary assessment of the new ILS, the anticipated impact of the new ILS on staffing levels in key units, and opportunities for the institution to utilize the new ILS that will provide increased flexibility and opportunity among staffing in the following two to three years.
Membership of the ILS Coordination Team
The ILS Coordination Team will include representatives from the various functional areas of the system including:
Chair – Responsible for the coordination of the team’s work, establishing project vision, managing timelines, direction setting, and problem solving.
- Michael Norman, Discovery Services Librarian and ILS Coordinator
Acquisitions – Works with the acquisitions processes in the current system including ledgers/funds, POs and invoices, and acquisition of print materials (including monographs and serials).
- George Gottschalk, Acquisitions Operations Specialist
- Stephanie Baker, Library Information Systems Specialist
- Chad Lewis, Assistant Chief Accountant
E-Resources – Works with the e-resources management workflows in current system including procurement, licensing, and management of electronic resources.
- Wendy Shelburne, Electronic Resources Librarian
Fulfillment and Circulation – Works with the fulfillment and circulation processes in the current system include patron registration and management, circulation policies, and calendar matrices, including Oak Street integrations
- Janelle Sander, Patron Services Manager
- Jenny Maddox, Collection Management Librarian
Lending and Interlibrary Loan – Works with borrowing and lending processes in the current system including lending and borrowing and external resource sharing management applications.
- Cherie’ Weible, Associate Dean For User Services and Central Access Services Librarian
Cataloging and Resource Management – Works with the cataloging and resource management processes in the current system including bibliographic and authority records, inventory, and local cataloging practices.
- MJ Han, Metadata Librarian and Interim Head of Content Access Management
Systems Administration and Dashboard Permissions capabilities set up within the new system – Works with the systems administration and configuration of the primary roles and functionality capabilities and then helps on an ongoing basis when new people are added to work in the system. Work to show all how to use the enhanced reporting capabilities of the system.
- Tracy Tolliver, Director of Information Technology
- Megean Osuchowski, Help Desk Coordinator
Public Services – Works with the public services aspects of the system including the public display interface, user interaction with various bibliographic utilities of the system, users account and personalizing services, documentation and instruction on utilizing the catalog, and educating users about the new catalog.
- Sarah Holder, Head of Research and Information Services
Discovery and Delivery – Works with the Discovery and Delivery aspects of the system (including utilizing APIs) and integration of the online catalog into the various discovery environments of the Library and I-Share consortia.
- William Mischo, Head, Grainger Engineering Library Information Center
Training and Documentation – Works to provide training for the Library to use the new ILS system, and works with the implementation team and Library employees to identify documentation needs and how to address them for different components in the system.
- Jake MacGregor, Organizational Development & Training Coordinator
- Alisha Taylor, Monographic & Media Cataloging Coordinator for Cataloging and Resource Management Training — Cataloging documentation and training
User Experience – Works with the implementation team to identify, define and improve the overall user experience of the ILS and its public interface. Such work may include direct work on the system (when possible), or liaison work with consortial partners at CARLI.
- John Laskowski, User Experience & Web Strategy Coordinator
Communication – Works to keep the Library informed on the implementation of the new system, sets up information sessions about changes and enhancements, advertises the significant changes or various stages in the development of the implementation and go live dates, and informs the Library’s User Community to all forthcoming changes and impacts on their saved information.
- Heather Murphy, Chief Communications Officer