Adventures in Alma – Issue #8

Well, looks like we survived another Covid Christmas. Here’s hoping its the last. Like most of you, we didn’t do much or see anybody. We did eat well though. And somebody made my belt smaller. When I find out who …

Before the break we were working on checking the data migration from Aleph to Alma, and back from the break – we still are. It’s an important part of the implementation. We need to be sure that the data in Aleph gets to the right place in Alma. Not just for this test load, but for the final cut-over load in May. We won’t have the luxury of time during that cut-over to do extensive data testing.

In this post:

Implementation Timeline
Testing Update
Training Plan Update
Working Group Highlights
Alma Q&A with Office Staff
Next Steps

Implementation Timeline
Here’s the timeline as we know it today. If you are curious about any of the items listed please drop us a line, ask your Steering Committee rep or join us for the Alma Q&A! (more below)


  • Testing of data migration continues – Data Check Workbooks to be completed by institutions January 28
  • Testing Alma functionality begins
  • Training plan developed, approved by Steering Committee, presented to Board
  • Primo VE delivered


  • Alma functionality testing continues
  • ExL hosted Workflows Workshop (virtual) Feb. 14 – 18
    • Who attends: Steering Committee, Working Groups, Service Groups, Trainers, Testers
    • Will be recorded for all staff
  • Training materials developed
  • SAML authentication configuration for all sites complete
  • Alma functional configuration begins


  • Alma functionality testing continues
  • Training materials finalized
  • Train the Trainers sessions for identified staff begins
  • Alma functional configuration continues
  • 3rd party integration begins


  • Train the Trainers training completes
  • Institutional training begins
  • Alma functional configuration complete
  • Aleph Technical Services freeze begins April 15
  • Final extract, migration of Aleph data competed (except for circ transactions)
  • Initial round of 3rd party integrations complete


  • Institutional training completes
  • Aleph Circ freeze, final circ transactions extract, migration completes (May 13)
  • Alma/Primo VE Go Live – May 17

Alma Testing
Under the direction of the Alma Testing Coordination Group, testing of the data migration began in mid-December and testers at all institutions are to complete the Data Check Workbook supplied by ExL by January 28th. Over 80 people signed up to be testers! The Workbook helps the testers work through the data in an organized, systematic way. They are looking at things like the number of bibs in Aleph is equal to the number of bibs in Alma, same with patrons etc. Unlike Aleph, where all bib, holding, patron and acquisitions data is shared and available to all Novanet members, Alma has that data separated by institution. In the past implementations and updates, a core group of testers could in essence do the testing for everyone. Not so in Alma. Each institution needs to test their subset of the data.

In the next week or two we will be moving on to testing and modifying the configuration.

Alma Training
The Training Coordination Group, in consultation with the Steering Committee and the Service Groups, have recommended a model to the Steering Committee which they approved. The document can be found here:

In a nutshell, we will be using the ‘Train the Trainer’ model. In this model a small core group of people in each functional area plan the training and produce the accompanying documentation. This group then provides training to selected people in each functional area from each institution (most likely Service Group members, but at the discretion of the institution). At this point each institution takes over the training for the rest of their staff. In the case where an institution doesn’t have the number of staff to adequately train by this model, they will be invited to train with another Novanet site. We have also made the decision that all of the consortium supplied training will have to be done virtually due to the Covid unknowns. Institutions can decide how they want to provide their internal training.

The core group of trainers are just beginning to put together the training sessions. We have access to all of the Ex Libris’ documentation and videos, a wealth of materials from past Alma implementers, and a week of focused workshopping with Ex Libris staff in February to help us with this.

Working Group Highlights

Fulfillment Network
The Working Group have been investigating the configuration of borrowing and lending in Alma across our consortium (Novanet Express). This core feature of Novanet is complicated by the fact that patron user accounts are not shared in Alma. This means that loan policies are not shared across the consortium but are configured at the institution level. To facilitate consortial borrowing in Alma, users are grouped into fulfillment units and user records for the same patron in different institutions are linked. Currently in Aleph we have over 80 different patron types and as many different item statuses. These are combined to create the many, many loan rules we have currently. This is not feasible in each of our Alma instances. The WG has come up with a solution where we will group the current patron types into 2 or 3 larger groups for purposes of the Alma fulfillment network. Although this does not impact your Alma institutional loan rules, getting this in order might help simplify those in the long run.

New Working Groups
Two new WGs are being convened. The Letters and Notices group is charged with identifying the many notices we currently use in Aleph, comparing those available in Alma and recommending wording, frequency etc to the relevant Service Groups for consideration. The Analytics group is being created to identify all reports that staff use and/or ask for from the office and ensuring equivalents for the ‘must have at Go Live’ are ready in Alma.

Alma Q&A with Office Staff
Ideally we would be coming to each of your institutions for this informal Q&A. Friggin’ Covid has put the kibosh on that. Instead we are planning a virtual Q&A, probably the week of February 7. Pam, Brad and I will be in the hot seat to answer any and all of your Alma questions. Well, maybe we won’t be able to answer all of them, but I’m sure we’ll have fun trying. Stay tuned for more information.

Next Steps
Members of the various Alma Committees, Working Groups, and Service Groups will be attending a workshop on Alma workflows the week of February 14. The intent of the workshop is have Ex Libris work with us on transitioning the various workflows we use in Aleph into Alma. This will also be an opportunity for the ‘Train the Trainers’ trainers (now that’s a phrase to remember) to get a bit deeper into Alma workflows while they are preparing the training courses.

With the data migration workbooks completed by the end of the week, we will be moving on to functional testing and learning how to do things in Alma.

Thanks for reading.