Skip to main content
  • Subscribe by RSS
  • Ex Libris Knowledge Center

    How Alma Search and Sets Can Help You Manage Your Library Data


    Alma sets are a handy way to organize groups of things, do things with them all at once, and save searches for later. A set in Alma is a group of items that belong to a certain category, like bibliographic records, users, purchase orders, or physical items. The results update every time you use the set or view the set content or from a list of items: either making a list yourself, uploading a list you already have, or adding items one by one.

    You can make as many sets as you want, and they can be any size. When you make a set, you can choose to keep it private just for yourself or make it public so others in your institution can use it too.

    With Alma's search function, you can easily create sets while you're doing your daily tasks. If you're in the middle of a search and need to take a break, or if you find results that others might find helpful, you can save your search as a set with a single click. This makes it easy to go back to your saved searches, as well as perform actions on them, like making bulk changes or creating a collection of bib records on a specific subject.

    Alma also has a special page for managing sets, which offers many features. You can create new sets, search for existing ones, and use them effectively. The management page lets you view set contents and search within them, update their contents, and even make new sets from existing ones. For example, you can use filters to narrow set content or combine two sets using criteria like AND, OR, or NOT. You can also export search results and set contents to Excel, so you can work with the list of items outside of Alma.

    Alma has two types of sets:

    1. Logical sets: Logical sets in Alma are a useful way to save searches without any hassle. You can create these sets by just saving a search you do in Alma, or by using the sets management interface. What's cool about logical sets is that they automatically update themselves whenever you look at them or use them in Alma. So, you don't have to manually redo the search or update the set yourself. This saves you time and makes it easier to manage your sets.
    2. Itemized sets: This is a user-managed static list of entities that can be updated as required by adding or removing items from the list. There are several ways to create such lists, including:
      1. Creating a set by uploading a list of IDs such as user IDs or item barcodes. This feature is particularly useful when you want to generate an itemized set based on a list of record identifiers used in external systems, such as a vendor system. By doing so, you can easily access the records you already have in Alma (and also identify records that are missing). This functionality proves helpful in many workflows, such as making informed purchasing decisions (especially when combined with Alma's comprehensive overlap analysis capabilities).
      2. Manually select members for the set, by searching them in Alma and selecting which of the results you want to add to your set.
      3. From an Analytics report, which provides users with the ability to take actions based on statistical analysis. For example, you can generate a list of physical books to withdraw based on their usage patterns over the past few years.
      4. By itemizing or filtering a logical set to create a closed list of records that matched the search query at a specific point in time.

    With Alma, you can also use APIs to get, handle, and make sets. This is great because it lets libraries connect with other systems and make or update sets in Alma without any trouble.

    Sets can be created for several content types, including:

    • Resource Management sets:
      • Bibliographic records
      • Local authorities
      • Physical, Electronic, or Digital inventory
    • User sets
    • Acquisition sets:
      • Purchase order lines
      • Vendors
    • Reading list management:
      • Courses
      • Reading lists
      • Citations

    Whether you can create sets of certain types of content depends on your permissions and roles in the library. For example, creating a set of purchase order lines might only be allowed for acquisition staff. For more information on the roles required for creating and using sets, as well as detailed information on how to do so, see Managing Search Queries and Sets.

    Resource Management Sets

    When conducting bibliographic record searches in Alma, you have access to a diverse range of indexes for metadata and inventory information associated with the records. This functionality extends to creating sets based on various criteria. For instance, you can create a set of titles based on the creator's name or generate an electronic titles set based on the active-to-date of the electronic collection, a physical titles set with currently loaned items, or a digital titles set based on the access rights policy applicable to their files.

    Alma allows you to combine search criteria from both bibliographic records and their inventory. For example, you can create a set that includes all titles in a specific subject area with missing items, enabling you to evaluate the collection and make informed purchasing decisions. Furthermore, you can generate a bibliographic records set from a set of physical items, electronic portfolios, or digital files. This feature enables you to obtain a list of titles based on item barcodes or other relevant identifiers.

    Alma's flexible search capabilities and the ability to create sets based on various criteria empower you to effectively manage and analyze your bibliographic records and associated inventory data.

    You can make itemized sets of bibliographic or authority records even more specific by using indication rules based on their metadata. This lets you do more advanced analysis on your collections by finding records that match your set criteria and meet certain conditions. For example, you can retrieve records that have multiple 300 fields, each containing a subfield "a". You can use these indication rules when creating new itemized sets or when publishing a set of records (for example, to exclude records without ISBN when publishing the catalog to a system that is ISBN-based).

    Title sets can be used in various processes, including bulk edits by normalizing the metadata, exporting a set of bib records to an external system, or pushing a set of up to 200 records into the metadata editor for cataloging.

    For libraries that manage a shared catalog using an Alma Network Zone, a member library can also create a set of bibliographic titles according to its own inventory and data, then contribute this set to the network so it can be used when making updates to the shared catalog. Member libraries can also use their Alma search to search the shared catalog and view available inventory in other members, facilitating collaboration ease in consortia.

    • Was this article helpful?