Adventures in Alma – Issue #7

Hard to believe that Christmas is nearly here and that we have been working on Alma stuff for more than a year! Hope you have most of your shopping done. Ours was easy this year (and to provide further evidence that we are an old married couple), we gave ourselves a new mattress. Pretty exciting, eh? Also went to the U-Pick on Sunday and got our trees. Perfect morning for it, light snow, no wind. Why is it that the tree looks good at the lot but always turn out too small when you get it home?

Time to get back to Alma.

We hit another exciting milestone last week – delivery of the test load into our production instance! This was the culmination of months of training and form-filling-out. More on all this below.

In this issue:

  • OCLC Reclamation
  • Timeline
  • Sandbox/Production instances
  • Test Load
  • Steering Committee/ Working Groups
  • Alma Training
  • What’s next

OCLC Reclamation
As I reported last issue, we did the reclamation in order to have the most accurate OCLC number on our bib records, since Alma uses that number as a main match point for records. All of the numbers were added and indexed and in place for the Test load extraction.

Here is the rough timeline for the next few months:

Test load delivered Dec. 1
Testing of data migration – in progress
Testing of original configuration

January – March:
Testing of data migration
Testing of original configuration
Training plan finalized

Staff Training
Technical Services freeze (late April/early May)
Final Alma configuration updates
Final data migration

Circulation freeze (a few days before Go Live)
Go Live! May 17

Sandbox/Production instances
In Aleph we have one sandbox (Test) and one production (Live) instance, and the Test sandbox is a mirror image of our Live production. Not so with Alma. Now we have two sandboxes and a production instance. The sandboxes (we have two so that we can practice consortial type stuff) are populated with generic Ex Libris data, not our Novanet data. Our production instance is the only one that will contain our Novanet data.

We’ve had access to the sandboxes since early October and the Steering Committee and associated Working Groups have been using them to get familiar with Alma. The Acquisitions, Access, and Cataloguing Service Groups have received access to the sandboxes and have been using them to do training exercises to become familiar with Alma. If you haven’t had a chance to use the sandbox yet, see your Steering Committee or Service Group rep for the URLs and login info.

Test Load
As I said at the top of this post we’ve reached a major milestone in our implementation – the release of our test load in our production instance! It was a long and winding road (anybody else watching the Beatles series on Disney+?) to get here. The extract of the data occurred in late October. All of your institutions, through the Steering Committee, filled out a configuration form that allowed ExL to set up some basic rules and configurations so that we can start testing. On that note, the Service Groups were tasked with finding testers and over 80 people volunteered! All now need to do the basic training so that they can start testing the migration. For the first part of the testing we will only be concerned with verifying that the data did migrate. Things like the number of bibs in Aleph is equal to the number of bibs in Alma, same with patrons etc. Beginning early in the new year we will be moving on to testing and modifying the configuration.

Steering Committee/Working Groups
Since my last post, the Steering Committee, Advisory group, the Service groups and other staffs at the libraries have been very busy with completing the Configuration Form. This form allowed us to give ExL some info so that they could set up some basic configuration in Alma. Things like patron types, locations, loan rules, Acquisitions budgets, etc. Once we finish verifying that the data migrated as expected, we’ll move on to testing and modifying the Alma configuration. Some other highlights:

Training Coordination
The group has started to investigate how training will be rolled out for us all. ExL provides us with the web-based training videos but  they don’t really go far enough and they don’t use our data and configuration. We are most likely following the ‘train the trainer model’, but have asked the Service Groups for their input. We hope to present a plan to the Steering Committee inn the coming weeks, so that they can get feedback from their institutions. A final plan will be presented to the Board of Directors in late January. Minutes can be found on our Alma page.

Testing Coordination
This group has been extremely busy working out procedures for systematic testing of Alma. Over 80 people volunteered to test, but they need training and a work plan before they can begin. The immediate focus for the next few weeks is data checking before we move on to configuration testing in the new year.

Fulfillment Network
This is Alma-speak for Novanet Express. This group is just getting started on figuring out how we can configure this important Novanet service in Alma. Of course there are forms from ExL to fill out. And we have had a couple meetings with ExL to help us get a handle on how this works in Alma. Much more on this front in the New Year.

Alma Training and Resources
If this section looks familiar its because it is! I’ve included this in every post because its important. The best place for you to look for Alma resources is on the Novanet web site Alma section ( Here you’ll find committee and working group minutes and recordings, configuration forms and associated training, a guide to training videos for Alma and anything else we can think of that relates to Novanet and our Alma implementation. More information on the actual formal training for library staff will come as we develop the training plan.

What’s next
Well, the holidays doofus! And:

  • Continued testing of the data and configuratuion of our production instance
  • Development of training plan
  • Alma Road show