Adventures in Alma – Issue 9

This part of the blog is usually reserved for a humorous (to me anyway) anecdote. Not feeling very humorous today though. Like many of you, a family member (who shall remain nameless – daughter Melissa) brought Covid home at the beginning of the week. So far Janice and I have remained unscathed but its probably just a matter of time. So in lieu of my humour I encourage you, if you know Amy Lorencz at SMU, to contact her and ask her for one of her really bad jokes. Sure to improve your day.

After several years of preparation, we are finally on the home stretch in our Alma implementation. In this post we will review the important dates in the lead up to Go Live on May 17th as well as start a series of updates from the working groups. 

In this post:

Salute to the Working Groups and Committees


March 23 – April 8: Alma Train the Trainer sessions 
Training for the people who will be conducting the institutional training began with the Cataloguing/Resources in late March and will conclude with Acquisitions training this week. I can’t stress enough how much time, effort, brain power and enthusiasm this group of core trainers put in to develop the training sessions. They not only had to learn the basic Alma workflows in enough detail to be able to pass that on to others, they also created training documentation and exercises to help those institutional trainers succeed in their training sessions. And their job isn’t finished. All groups will be conducting follow on training later in the summer and beyond. With able assistance from the Service Group and Working Group members these folks did an amazing job. In lieu of the massive raise I’d like to be able to give them, I’ll list those core trainers here. If you happen to see them in the course of your work in the next little while, be sure to give them a Covid-respecting hug or pat on the back. They deserve it. 

Gail Fraser – Dal
Brenda McKenna – StFX
Terri Winchcombe – SMU
Carla White – CBU 

Jason Lee – CBU
Kris MacSween – StFX
David Michels – Dal 
Karen Tobin – CBU
Joseph Wickens – Dal 
Wendy Witczak – MTA

Adam Keylor – MSVU
Anne LePage – MTA 
Amy Lorencz – SMU

April 11 – April 26: Institutional Training 
Your Steering Committee member and staff at your libraries will be organizing and providing functional area Alma training during this window. For many of you this will be your first real deep dive into Alma. It’s bound to be a hectic and maybe scary time. But remember that nobody expects you to be an expert after that training. We are all still learning how Alma works. And one great thing about being in a consortium is that you have loads of people doing the same work and experiencing the same pain. You are encouraged to reach out to your colleagues via the various lists for help. 

April 15: Acq and Cat Aleph freeze 
All Acq and Cat work in Aleph will cease at 5 pm on Friday April 15. Ex Libris needs this time to prepare and extract the data from Aleph for its migration to Alma. It’s a long time from then till we go live on May 17, but it’s a complex and lengthy process. Regular circulation activities will continue for a couple more weeks (see below). 

April 26: Alma Configuration Freeze 
In order for Ex Libris to start loading our cutover data in Alma, all changes to configuration in Alma must stop on the 26th. This includes things like notices, loan polices, import profiles etc. Really, all work in Alma will stop, including institutional training. 

April 27 – May 17: Final cut over migration data load 
Like the title says – final loading of our Aleph data into Alma. Its starts with Acq and Cat stuff. Circ info will be extracted a little later on to allow circulation to continue as long as possible (see below, below) 

May 9: Patron functions disabled in Primo 
In preparation for the Circulation freeze (see below, below, below), holds and other patron initiated services will be disabled in Primo. This will allow staff time to complete any of those requests ahead of the circulation freeze (see below, below, below, below). It’s worth noting here that our current version of Primo will remain up and searchable right up to the Go Live date. At that time people will be seamlessly routed to the new Primo VE instances. 

May 11: Circulation Freeze (see above, above, above, above)
Shed a tear for Aleph, it will be shut down on the morning of the 11th. Ex Libris will extract all of the circ type data (patrons, holds, checkouts, etc.) in preparation for migrating into Alma. Libraries can continue to circulate items but will be doing it in an off-line mode. Most will be recording their transactions on paper for entry into Alma after Go Live. While Aleph will remain until mid-summer for troubleshooting purposes, it will not be used for real work. I personally won’t be shedding a tear for the OPAC/Green Monster, but I know some of you will. The OPAC will go into read-only mode when we shut down Aleph, but it will remain available until we pull the plug on May 17.

May 17: Go Live with Alma and Primo VE 
This is the date we have been working so hard to get to. Going live with Alma! There might be a slight delay on this so that we can confirm that data migrated properly, depending on how quickly Ex Libris delivers each institution’s final data load. This will be a rolling delivery, institution by intuition, as Ex Libris loads each institutions data. As they get delivered each institution will have 2 days to confirm that the data migrated properly. We fully expect that ExL will deliver all of the institutions in time to do the 2 day review before the 17th and that all of you will have confirmed your data by the 17th

Salute to the Committees and Working groups

As we get closer to launching Alma, I think its a good time to highlight the various working groups and committees that have been working so hard to get us here. I’ve asked them to provide me with a short synopsis of their work and I will be publishing them over the next few weeks. We all owe them a great big thanks!

Who better to start with than Pam and Brad. You’ve seen them at all of the meetings, you’ve heard from them via emails and phone calls and endless Teams meetings. What maybe you haven’t seen is the 16 hour days, the 7 days a week for months that they have been putting in. Its very difficult trying to stay on top of all the various aspects of Alma so that we can be helpful to you in configuring and using Alma. And at the same time trying to keep Aleph going. So join me in thanking them. They are AWESOME!

Thanks for reading.