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    Data Excellence (DX): Introducing Alma Community Zone Direct Ingest for Title Lists

    Data Excellence (DX) 

    Over the past years Ex Libris has continued to recognize the importance, significance and centrality of Content and Data. We have been focusing on Data Excellence (DX) which addresses the intersection between Content, Technology and Users as part of a data-driven cross-company strategy.

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    Data Excellence (DX) has already generated several initiatives in 2021 and 2022 and will continue to do so over the coming years.

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    Quicker Updates: Alma Direct Ingest

    One of these initiatives is the focus on Quicker Updates; increasing the frequency of updates to the Alma Community Zone so that changes made by Content Providers can reach institutions faster.

    Our goal is to gradually transition away from the weekly CKB Update cycle and begin a semi-weekly cycle that can pick up new feeds/files (title lists), supplied by Content Providers or other sources, on a more frequent basis, as well as process them directly within Alma for a quicker and more direct turnaround.

    To support this goal, we have developed a new “Alma Direct Ingest” tool to ingest updated title lists directly into the Alma Community Zone, utilizing a semi-weekly fetch mechanism and a target of 3-day processing from fetch to availability in the Community Zone. The transition to the new tool is anticipated to be seamless for institutions and no action is required. Note that the fetch will occur semi-weekly to ensure that once a file/title list is available is it processed, but we continue to rely on the providers’ to supply these files at their regular pace.

    To ensure that this process is indeed seamless and working well, we are planning a gradual and measured rollout. We have selected Cambridge University Press for our pilot to be transitioned in early Q3 2022. No change is required on the provider side and no change is required on the institution side either. As we transition additional providers to the Alma Direct Ingest this article will be updated and the community will be notified, though the process is intended to be seamless.

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    As part of this process, we are also investing in an infrastructure upgrade that will provide better technical support both today and in the long term, by implementing a failover server mechanism. This will ensure that there are better backups and updates can run in the background while the Live Community Zone is not affected. The technical implication of this is that individual title/portfolio changes that are contributed by users will be implemented immediately for the user in their local Institution Zone, but will take up to 48 hours to be implemented in the Community Zone (previously this was immediate), followed by the standard Distribution/Harvesting process to reach other institutions’ IZs. For more details, please refer to the below FAQ.

    Data Excellence in general and the Alma Direct Ingest tool specifically will enable Ex Libris to shift towards more frequent title list updates directly into the Alma Community Zone, thus improving the update turnaround time and accuracy of the represented content. Further, we have added failover capability that will strengthen the infrastructure and foundation of the CZ for the long term. Our goal is to transition all collections that are managed by Ex Libris to be supported by the Alma Direct Ingest in a gradual, seamless process.

     

     

    Please see below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more details. If you still have any further questions about this process, please contact the Alma Product Support Teams via the Support Portal.

     

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    • Will there be an effect on the update schedule for collections that are not part of Direct Ingest process?
      • No. At this time only collections transitioned to use the Alma Direct Ingest tool will be processed more frequently, on a semi-weekly basis, as files/title lists become available. Our plan is to gradually transition all of the Alma Community Zone collections to this new process.
    • What is the update schedule for these collection?
      • The fetch mechanism runs semi-weekly to support direct ingest into the Alma CZ in 48 hours. As with the current updates, changes made in the Community Zone are then distributed/harvested to the individuals IZs.
        The Distribution/Harvesting time is being improved, but remains an integral part of this process, as well as the Publishing process to Discovery systems.
    • Will I receive the Community Zone changes for these collections as part of the Community Zone Updates Task List?
      • Yes. All changes made within the CZ are processed and reflected in the Updates Task List as usual, regardless of the ingest tool (CKB Update or Alma Direct Ingest). 
    • Will I be able to make changes to the Bibliographic records that are part of these collection?
      • Yes. The contribution process has not changed for changes to the Bibliographic records and changes made to Bibs will be reflected in the CZ immediately.
    • Can I continue to submit support cases for these collections?
      • Yes. These collections continue to be managed by Ex Libris and we provide support for them as usual.
    • Can I continue to contribute collections/portfolios to the Community Zone?
      • Yes. For collection contribution please see the following documentation: Contributing to the Community Zone – Local Electronic Collections. There is no change to this process.
        For portfolio contribution to collections that are managed by the community, please see the following documentation: Contributing to the Community Zone – Portfolios. Note that for portfolios that are contributed, they will appear immediately for the contributing institution, but will take up to 48 hours to be implemented in the Community Zone (previously this was immediate), followed by the standard Distribution/Harvesting process to reach other institutions’ IZs.
    • What is the relation to the Provider Zone initiative, and will this affect the existing Provider Zone (PZ) collections, portfolios, and Bibliographic records?
      • The goal of the Provider Zone (PZ) initiative was also to address the turnaround time for updates as well as to improve content quality.
        As part of the Provider Zone initiative we worked with three providers to investigate this option of direct ingest into the Alma Community Zone, by packaging their collections, portfolios and Bib records as “PZ” or “Managed by” those providers. Following productive and effective feedback from the community we have pivoted this solution to this Alma Direct Ingest that does not include the above PZ packaging.
        The three PZ providers (IEEE, SAGE, EBC) will be prioritized to transition to the new Alma Direct Ingest early in our plans. For these providers, this transition will include the removal of the “PZ”/”Managed by” packaging from all levels of these collections.
    • Is there any effect on Contribution of Authorities?
      • No. There is no effect on the contribution of Authorities, including no effect on the contribution distribution.
    • Will the transition to the Alma Direct Ingest effect the alignment between the different Ex Libris knowledgebases (KBs)?
      • No. We continue to process all updates using the same files/title lists across all KBs/knowledgebases. This change means that updates may be processed earlier in Alma, depending on the time when those files become available for processing by all Ex Libris KBs.
    • Will the Collection Management Level of these collection change due to the transition to the Alma Direct Ingest?
      • No. The Management Level of collections is determined based on Ex Libris’ ability to maintain, support and manage these collections.
    • How is Ex Libris prioritizing the list of collections transitioned to Alma Direct Ingest?
      • We have prioritized the list of collections and providers based on several criteria, including the stability of the providers’ updates (regularly sending title lists), metadata requirements and more. We will share information on the next providers whose content will be transitioned to this tool. 
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