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    Provider Zone Documentation

     

    Introduction to the Provider Zone 

    The purpose of the Ex Libris Provider Zone is to enable vendors, publishers and providers (“Providers”) to access, add and update their Content Offerings directly and automatically within the Community Zone to best reflect the collections and databases available to our mutual customers.


    The Provider Zone is a sub-area within the existing Ex Libris Community Zone, where Providers will be able to upload their content directly, with full control over the quality and display.
    The records uploaded by Providers will be stored alongside the existing Community Zone records. Other providers, the community, and even Ex Libris (barring special circumstances) will not be permitted to edit or modify Provider-originating records. Thus, all Provider-loaded records maintain their integrity and quality, as created and intended by the Provider.
    Content that can be made available by Providers is on the collection level; including portfolios/titles, their associated descriptive information and relevant linking data. 

     

    Why Ex Libris Is Opening the Community Zone to Providers

    Ex Libris has elected to develop the Provider Zone as a groundbreaking, modern and innovative initiative that will change the way knowledgebases are maintained and managed throughout the Industry.

    Currently knowledgebases are maintained by aggregators and librarians utilizing manual and automated iterations and uploads and are highly dependent on file delivery, resulting in potential failure points and human error.

    By opening the Community Zone to direct access for Content Providers, the Provider Zone will eliminate many manual interactions and potential obstacles, while enabling an increase in efficiency and quicker time to market. 

     

    How Does the Provider Zone Serve Providers?

    The benefits of a collaboration between Ex Libris and Content Providers on this project span multiple areas.

    • Providers can deliver more accurate content in a timely manner that aligns with the Providers’ sales model and collection offerings, exposing a greater range of their content to both mutual and potential customers.
       
    • Any modifications, alterations and fixes can be performed directly and seamlessly by the Provider in the Community Zone. Thus, improving the customer experience and reducing support requests from both parties.
       
    • Providers will be able to ingest MARC records into the Community Zone and generate new Bibliographic records that will not be merged with or affected by metadata supplied by other providers or the community. Providers will benefit from protected Bibliographic records that will be available only to mutual customers who have activated those collections.
       
    • Providers who choose to work with Ex Libris on the Provider Zone will gain access to new reports that Ex Libris will create and generate for their benefit. These reports may include activation statistics on the Providers’ collections and breakdown of their activity.
       

     

    How Does the Provider Zone Benefit Our Customers?

    For mutual customers of Ex Libris and participating Providers, the value added is significant.

    • For mutual Provider and Ex Libris customers, there will also be quicker turnaround when new content/collections are made available by the Provider, who can now independently create these collections within the Community Zone. Customers will be exposed to the content origin and its level of accuracy.
       
    • Increased accuracy and timeliness will promote improved services to mutual Ex Libris and Provider customers, by enabling Providers to expose their Content Offerings as soon as they are available.
       
    • Based on a full representation of the Provider's sales model, customers can better plan their collection development and annual subscription forecast.
       

    Glossary

    Below is a list of useful terminology that will be referenced throughout this document.

    For the full glossary, please visit the Alma Glossary.

    Term

    Definition

    Brief level

    A record's brief level (1 to 10) reflects the amount and quality of bibliographic information. A brief record is one that Alma considers to have a less than ideal amount of information. Level 10, intuitively enough, indicates the most complete records – the LEAST brief. 

    Collection

    An Alma catalog entity (top level collection or sub-collection) that groups any number and type of resources together, allowing for enhanced organization of mixed-type materials based on topic-based hierarchical structures.

    Community Zone

    Ex Libris maintained resources available to all Alma institutions. Incorporates the Knowledge Base, the Community Catalog, and Global Authority Files. Can be accessed by any institution that is part of Alma for cataloging purposes.

    Database

    A type of electronic collection whose resources cannot be individually managed through an interface. 

    MARC record

    A MAchine-Readable Cataloging record, a standard record format for library cataloging information, including bibliographic, authority, and holding records. See https://www.loc.gov/marc/umb/um01to06.html.

    Alma supports MARC21 records (a North American standard) and can also support alternate MARC formats such as CNMARC (a Chinese standard), UNIMARC (a European standard), and KORMARC (A Korean standard).

    Portfolio

    (Electronic Portfolio)

    Electronic resource (inventory) that maintains the specific coverage (local or global), services, and link information relevant for a particular electronic title that may also be part of an electronic collection. It may include administrative/access information.

    Record

    A discrete, manageable entity in Alma. Examples include repository records (bibliographic records, authority records), inventory (physical items, electronic portfolios, digital representations, deposits), PO lines, users, reading lists, vendors, and so forth. Does not included stored configuration information, such as your configured code and mapping table information, your institution's logo and IP information, and other institution-specific information stored in the Alma database.

     

     

    How to Become a Provider in The Provider Zone

    Providers interested in becoming a part of the Provider Zone project are invited to contact Ex Libris via the following email address: PZSupport@exlibrisgroup.com.

    Before contacting Ex Libris, we highly recommend that Providers familiarize themselves with the information below.

    The following technical introduction and documentation is available for any Provider interested in becoming a Provider in the Provider Zone.

    Provider Zone Takeover and Management Tracks  

    There are two main tracks within the Provider Zone project for takeover and management of the Provider’s collections. A third, hybrid approach is also available.

    Track One:

    Takeover and management of the Collection and Portfolios/Titles only.

    In this track, the Provider will fully own and manage their Collections and Portfolios, while the underlying Bibliographic records containing the MARC metadata will continue to be shared by the Community Zone. Thus, the MARC metadata continues to be updated and maintained by Ex Libris (based on other providers’ metadata) and the Community, as part of the Community Zone.

    The only exception here is the case where a Bibliographic record does not already exist and a new one needs to be created. This Bibliographic record will be owned by the Provider (see “hybrid approach” below).

    This track is most relevant for Providers who do not generate or own MARC records.

    Track Two:

    Takeover and management of the Collection, Portfolios/Titles and Bibliographic records.

    In this track, the Provider will supply their own MARC files that will generate new Bibliographic records that will be associated solely and exclusively with their collections’ Portfolios. Thus, mutual customers who will activate these collections will benefit from Bibliographic records that contain MARC metadata purely supplied by the Provider. Ex Libris (barring special circumstances) and the Community will not be able to modify or update this metadata.

    These new Bibliographic records will create a duplication of Bibliographic records in the Community Zone but will not affect search results in the Discovery systems. For those interested in more information on how to address the de-duplication in the Discovery system, please refer to your Discovery system de-duplication documentation.

     

    Providers can also elect to adopt a hybrid approach. Ex Libris supports Providers who may have partial MARC record coverage of their content. In this case, Providers can send incomplete lists of MARC records and new Bibliographic records will be generated only for those titles, while the others will continue to be associated with the existing Community Zone Bibliographic records.
     

    Note that these track options are available to Providers on the collection level, so that they may maintain multiple collections at various ownership level.

     

    Should a Provider choose to remove a collection from the Alma Community Zone, Ex Libris will continue to manage this process due to our commitment to notify the community in advance of the removal of any collection. This will need to be communicated to Ex Libris who will plan and share with the community before the removal of any collection, as is our standard operating procedure.

     

    Provider Zone Onboarding

    Once the Provider has familiarized themselves with the technical requirements, please contact Ex Libris to begin the onboarding process at: PZSupport@exlibrisgroup.com.

    In the email to Ex Libris please include the following information:

    • List of names and emails of the project owners.
    • List of names and emails of the project technical team.
      Note that only registered emails will be able to receive automated status feedback upon running the API.
    • FTP credentials, if needed (please note the required directory structure outlined in the technical documentation).

    Once the request is reviewed by Ex Libris, we will supply the Provider with the following:

    • Up to date list of the Provider’s collections currently supported in the Alma Community Zone.
    • Mapping (where available) of the collections to the originating file sent by the Provider.
    • Link to test API HTML page.
    • API Key for access to test environment.
    • API credentials for test environment.

    The Provider will then write the API calls per collection, as indicated in the technical documentation, and run tests on the test environment. This process will be accompanied by Ex Libris with full technical support to address any questions and assist with the development of the API calls on the Provider side.

    The Provider will supply Ex Libris with the mapped list of collections that will include a commitment to an update frequency for each collection, and an indication if the collection will receive original Provider MARC records. This update frequency will also be shared with the community via the Release Notes.

    When the API calls are ready, one for each collection, Ex Libris and the Provider will have a handoff to transition the API calls to the Alma Community Zone production environment.

    At this stage a joint message will be released to customers, based on the agreement between Ex Libris and the Provider. Options include email notification, joint presentation, joint Press Release or other accepted formats.

     

    Onboarding Process Summary

    1. Provider to contact Ex Libris via PZSupport@exlibrisgroup.com.
    2. Ex Libris to supply all necessary access and keys.
    3. Provider to write API calls and automation (one per collection) and run tests on test environment, including commitment to update frequency.
    4. Handoff and transition to production, where the takeover of collections will go live.
    5. Announcement to customers.

     

    Onboarding Process Output

    At the completion of the onboarding process Ex Libris and the Provider will have exchanged the following:

    1. Agreement on update frequency for each collection and commitment to maintaining a minimal level of metadata quality that does not drop below the current metadata quality in the Community Zone, as determined based on the current content brief level (for additional information please see the following Knowledge Center Article on the “Brief Level Definition in the Alma CZ”).
    2. Agreement on Support flows for mutual customers, including agreement on a template that will be sent to customers containing contact information for the Provider.
    3. Clear guideline for the Provider to receive any technical support from Ex Libris.
    4. Fully automated API calls set up to run against the production Community Zone for takeover of existing collections, to create new collections, and to update existing collections at predetermined frequency.
    5. Ex Libris to supply list of reports for the Provider.  
    6. Exchange of technical and business contacts from both Ex Libris and the Provider.

     

    Scope of Provider Zone

    Ex Libris encourages any Provider who chooses to join the Provider Zone project to fully take over ALL existing collections, as well as grow their Community Zone offerings to align with their sales model and content offerings for mutual customers. The baseline for this project will be a commitment from the Provider to take ownership of all their Collections.

     

     

    Joint Ex Libris And Provider Commitments to The Community

    One of the goals of the Provider Zone project is to improve the service experience of Ex Libris and the Provider’s mutual customers. Therefore, Ex Libris and the Provider are committing to the following as part of this project.

     

    New Provider Joining the Provider Zone Project and Ongoing Notifications

    • A joint announcement will be sent to all Ex Libris (and Provider) customers as soon as an agreement is reached between Ex Libris and the Provider to move forward with the transition of the Provider to the Provider Zone project.
      This will make mutual customers aware of the upcoming transition and will enable them to prepare accordingly.
    • At the time of the takeover an announcement will also be made to customers to ensure that they are aware of the transition, though the process is fully seamless to the institutions and no action is required.
    • The first-time takeover of existing collections and all subsequent activity of the Provider updating and managing their collections will be reflected in the Alma Community Zone Task List and documented in the Alma Community Zone Release Notes available in the Knowledge Center.

     

    Mutual Customer Support Following Transition to Provider Zone Project

    In order to improve the experience of Ex Libris and the Provider Zone mutual customers, the following has been agreed upon with the Provider, as well as reviewed and approved by the community representatives from the Content Working Group and the Community Zone Management Group.

    A list of potential Support scenarios is detailed below with a clear indication of the expected course of action for Ex Libris, the Provider and our customers.

    Every Provider Zone Provider will supply a method for direct communication with their Support teams. Providers can elect to share a URL to their Support website or portal, or a direct email address for submitting Support tickets.
    This information will be made available in the joint announcements made by Ex Libris and the Provider and will also be available to all Ex Libris Support Staff who can assist in providing this information as necessary.

     

    Ex Libris will resume responsibility for incoming support cases submitted by mutual customers of Ex Libris and the Provider Zone Providers.

    A preliminary analysis and triage will be performed for each incoming support case by the Ex Libris Content Operations Tier 1 Support Team. This analysis will indicate whether Ex Libris can resolve the issue, or if it is necessary to forward the case to the relevant Provider.

    Due to the new nature of this relationship and agreement between Ex Libris and the Provider, Ex Libris will not be permitted to make alterations to the Provider’s content and will therefore individually (on a case-by-case basis) send these cases to the Provider for handling.

    As indicated above, as part of the Provider onboarding process, the Provider will supply the relevant contact information required in order to assure that these Support cases are forwarded to the correct location and addressed accordingly by the Provider.

    At Ex Libris we will continue to monitor these incoming support cases and track them periodically with the Provider to ensure they have been addressed and can be closed.

    Ex Libris will also work on creating user-friendly templates to ensure that the fullest details are sent to the Provider.

    The Provider Zone Providers are committed to reviewing these cases and addressing them within their agreed upon timeline, based on their customer agreements and SLAs, and will update their content accordingly.

     

    Provider Support Scenarios

    The following instances are examples where Ex Libris will forward the incoming support case to the Provider (following initial triage and analysis):  

    • Missing Portfolio or request for Portfolio removal.
    • Missing Collection or request for Collection removal.
    • Currency issues.
    • Insufficient metadata quality.
      Please note that this is relevant in the event that the Bibliographic records are “managed by” the Provider.

     

    Ex Libris Support Scenarios

    Ex Libris will continue to support the following scenarios.

    • Linking issues.
      Ex Libris will investigate the matter and determine whether the fix can be done manually and on the Alma system, or if there is any need to involve the Provider. If the Provider’s involvement is required Ex Libris will reach out directly to resolve the matter.
    • Insufficient metadata quality.
      Please note that this is relevant in the event that the Bibliographic records are “managed by” Ex Libris and have not been taken over by the Provider.
    • General inquiries and others.
      Ex Libris will serve as a gateway for general inquiries from mutual customers to ensure optimal customer experience. 

     

    Others

    Should a support case be submitted to either Ex Libris or the Provider that would more appropriately be addressed by the other, both Ex Libris and the Provider will have a template on hand to assist the mutual customer in reaching out to the relevant entity with all necessary contact information.

    The only exception to the above will be support cases submitted regarding ProQuest content, where the case will be Shared with the ProQuest team within the internal Ex Libris and ProQuest Support Portal (Salesforce) system, for optimal tracking by our mutual customers.
     

    Support SLA Commitments

    When submitting a Support case to the Provider, the Provider commits to meeting their agreed upon SLA with the customer. Ex Libris also commits to continuing to meet the agreed upon SLA for support services.

     

     

    Ex Libris Commitments to the Provider Zone Providers

    As part of the Provider Zone initiative, and due to the novelty of this project, Ex Libris will support Providers throughout the onboarding process, as well as following their transition to production.

     

    Onboarding/Initial Support from Ex Libris

    Ex Libris commits to supplying Providers with all necessary access and privileges required to set up the API calls to the Community Zone.

    Ex Libris has generated full documentation on the API, which is available here.

    Additional details on the support from Ex Libris are available in the Provider Zone Onboarding section of this document.

     

    Ongoing Support and Reporting from Ex Libris to Providers

    Ex Libris will provide the following:

    • Success/failure report following each API run.
      All reports contain collection details, record counts and additional relevant data.
      Failure reports include informative descriptions of the cause for failure/error and/or technical contacts to assist as necessary.
    • API call to return the current status of the Provider’s collections in the Community Zone (full export of the portfolios as they appear in the Alma Community Zone).
    • Report on the number of support cases submitted to Ex Libris which have been redirected to the Provider for further analysis and handling.
    • Report on the number of support cases submitted to Ex Libris pertaining to linking issues around the Provider’s content and handled by Ex Libris directly.
    • Feedback on the “brief level” of Bibliographic records created by Providers who have ingested MARC records. This information will be reflected in the Alma Community Zone.
      For additional information please see the following Knowledge Center Article on the “Brief Level Definition in the Alma CZ”.

    Ex Libris is also committed to enabling a quick turnaround from the time an API call has been submitted to update to an existing collection or create a new collection.
    Note that the first-time takeover of existing collections will vary based on the number of existing portfolios and the number of new Bibliographic records that will be generated. This calculation is highly individual and will be communicated to the Provider directly, following analysis.

    For any ongoing support questions that the Provider may have for Ex Libris and/or any technical assistance please contact us at PZSupport@exlibrisgroup.com.

     

    Provider Exit

    In the event that Ex Libris and the Provider decide to cease the Provider Zone collaboration, Ex Libris will support this process.

     

     

    Provider Zone Provider Commitments to Ex Libris

    As part of the Provider Zone Project and to ensure a smooth transition, Provider Zone Providers have committed to the following.

     

    Maintaining Content and Metadata Quality and Currency

    The Provider Zone will enable participating Providers to fully control the quality of the content sent to the Community Zone, yet certain stipulations have been agreed upon to ensure that the existing quality of metadata in the Community Zone will remain in tact or improve.

    Based on the Provider Zone Takeover and Management Tracks, Providers that elect to use the “Track One” method will be required to maintain the following standards of quality and currency:

    • Maintain current (pre-Provider Zone transition) update frequency for each collection.
    • Communicate the update frequency for each collection. This information will be shared with the community via the Release Notes.

     

    Providers that elect to use the “Track Two” method OR the “hybrid method” will be required to maintain the following standards of quality and currency:

    • Maintain current (pre-Provider Zone transition) update frequency for each collection.
    • Communicate the update frequency for each collection. This information will be shared with the community via the Release Notes.
    • All MARC records used to generate new Bibliographic records in the Alma Community Zone will be required to maintain a minimal level of metadata quality that does not drop below the current metadata quality in the Community Zone, as determined based on the current content brief level (for additional information please see the following Knowledge Center Article on the “Brief Level Definition in the Alma CZ”).  

    We further emphasize that Ex Libris will proactively be working with the Provider Zone providers (as well as providers in general) to increase the level of the metadata quality made available in the Community Zone.

     

    Provider Relations and Updates on Platform Changes

    Ex Libris and the Provider will continue their ongoing relationship with the Provider Relations team and will update on any platform change and linking syntax changes that will impact Alma and/or other Ex Libris products.

    All ongoing Provider Relations meetings will continue to be held to ensure a smooth transition and to maintain the good relationships between Ex Libris and the Provider. Any additional updates and questions can also be addressed during these meetings. 

     

    Reciprocal Support Reporting

    In the same manner that Ex Libris will report to the Provider the number of Support cases that are submitted by mutual customers, the Provider will supply to Ex Libris a similar report for tracking purposes.

     

     

     

     

     

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