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Ex Libris Knowledge Center

Alma Glossary

Term Definition
<Alma base URL>
The base URL to connect to Alma, not including the path of any specific page. This URL is provided to your Alma administrator by Ex Libris. See Your Alma Domain Names.
Access provider The party that provides access to electronic goods or services; may or may not be the vendor that sells the access.
Access rights
The area in Fulfillment configuration where permissions are granted to patrons that allow them to access digital and electronic resources. See Configuring Inventory Management Groups.
The process of enabling access to e-resources for patrons. Includes confirming that the library has access to the resource and setting up technical information so that patrons have access. See Activating Electronic Resources.
Aggregator package
A type of electronic collection that includes all titles (as opposed to a selective package, which includes only some of the collection’s titles). See Adding a Local Electronic Collection.
Allocated balance The total amount of money initially available for the fund. This amount doesn't change when expenditures are made or encumbrances assigned to the fund; the available balance changes. You can increase a fund's allocated balance by adding money to the fund. See Fund Transaction Terminology.
Allocated fund
A representation of an actual budget used for purchasing. See fund, and also see Fund Transaction Terminology.
Delivery categories for Primo for physical, electronic, digital, and digital collection resources. See Delivery Settings for Local Primo Records Harvested from Alma.
Alma Link Resolver
Alma component that responds to external requests with a menu of physical, electronic, and digital services. For physical resources, requests are offered; for electronic resources, context-sensitive links are provided; for digital resources, direct links to the digital object are provided. The Alma Link Resolver responds to OpenURL requests as well as requests from systems such as Primo.
For more information, see the training video Alma Link Resolver.
Alma Main Menu
Lists all of the actions and areas that a user can work in depending on what role(s) they have been assigned. See The Persistent Menu.
Alma component used to manage data reports and the dashboard. See Introduction to Analytics and Terminology.
The querying option within Analytics that allows a user to create a report.
Available balance
The money that is available for use in an allocated fund. [Available balance] = [allocated balance] - [(encumbrances - disencumbrances)] - [expenditures]. See Fund Transaction Terminology.
Borrowing request A resource sharing request placed by local patron and fulfilled by another institution’s resource. Otherwise known as a resource sharing outgoing request. See Requests in Alma.
Brief level
Brief record
A record's brief level (1 to 10) determines if the record is brief. A brief record is one that Alma considers to have a less than ideal amount of information.
Users can define rules that set the brief level of a record based on how much information is present in certain fields of the record. A lower number is more brief; a brief level of 10 is a full record.
In addition, an administrator can set the brief level threshold from 0 to 9; any record whose brief level is below the threshold is considered to be brief. For more information, see Working with Brief Record Levels.
A collection of buildings that belongs to a given institution. Patrons may be affiliated with a specific campus where they can request library services. Libraries may be affiliated with a specific campus, which is where their physical inventory is expected to circulate. See Configuring Inventory Management Groups and Defining Display Logic Rules at the Campus Level.
Cash balance
The money that is currently in the fund/ledger. [Cash balance] = [allocated balance] - [expenditures]. Does not count encumbrances or disencumbrances. See Fund Transaction Terminology.
The record repository of information in Alma. The catalog contains all descriptive metadata managed by a library, institution, consortium, or community.
The Institution Catalog contains the institution's local records. The Community Catalog contains records provided to all institutions, by Ex Libris or community-contributed. The Network Catalog contains records centrally-managed in a Network Zone.
Central Knowledge Base (CKB)
The part of the Community Zone that contains linking information to electronic resources around the world. See Introduction to Alma Inventory
Circulation Desk The location in the library that handles patron fulfillment. See Circulation Desk Operations.
An item that a student should read or watch in a course. Otherwise known as "reading list citation".
A citation is an element of a reading list. A citation can be a library resource, such as an item in the repository, a URL, an uploaded PDF, or nearly anything else. See Managing Citations.
Cloud computing
The delivery of software and storage of data at a location (a server) remote from the physical location of the library, accessed using the internet. Alma is a cloud computing based service.
Collaborative Network
The overarching concept for all types of collaboration (for example, cataloging, acquisitions, fulfillment) between multiple institutions. In Alma, collaboration may include resource sharing, a fulfillment network, and/or the implementation of a Network Zone.
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. See Managing Collections.
Community Catalog
Metadata records stored in the Community Zone, which are updated as required by Ex Libris or by contributions from the community. Inventory records can link to these records; alternatively, the current versions of these records can be copied to the institution and maintained locally. See Introduction to Alma Inventory
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. See Introduction to Alma Inventory
Contract lead The institution that manages its own sandbox, or its own sandbox and the sandboxes of other institutions. See Alma Sandbox Environments.
Controlled Vocabulary (CV)
A list of acceptable values for a subfield in the Metadata Editor. For example, a controlled vocabulary offers options when selecting Library of Congress subject headings. See Configuring Controlled Vocabulary Registry.
Copyright clearance
The process of getting permission to use copyrighted works. A digitization process may require performing copyright clearance. See Approving/Rejecting a Request for Digitization.
COUNTER Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources compliant usage statistics is explained here: See Managing COUNTER-Compliant Usage Data.
A personal collection of Analytics reports. See Creating a Dashboard.
A type of electronic collection whose resources cannot be individually managed through an interface. See Working with Database Type Electronic Collections.
Enabling the patron who requested access to a digital resource to view or access a copy of that resource. See Configuring Digital Fulfillment.
Delivery rules
Rules that determine how content is delivered to users and external systems. The rules are configurable by the customer. See Configuring Electronic Document Delivery Rules.
An area in the library where dedicated physical inventory actions take place, such as receiving acquired physical material and digitizing physical material. See Configuring Departments.
Deposit The Deposit feature allows patrons to submit digital content to Alma to be added to the repository. For more information, see Deposit.
Descriptive Metadata
Descriptive Metadata, which appears in records in the Metadata management system (MMS).
Digital resource
A file or group of files with metadata that exists on a local network, a server, or in the cloud. It may include, among other possible formats, streaming media, e-books, video, or images. Digital resource files can be stored and managed externally, but the metadata is managed by Alma. The resource generally requires a viewer on the user’s machine.
Digitization approval
The process of approving a digitization request. The process may include receiving copyright clearance from the proper agencies. See Digitization Processing.
Discovery The feature that allows a patron to find records and inventory from the Alma Repository. Primo is Ex Libris' system to provide discovery. See Primo.
The removal of an encumbrance. See Fund Transaction Terminology.
DLF Electronic Resource Management Initiative (DLF ERMI)
An industry-wide, standardized solution developed by the Digital Library Federation. DLF ERMI handles the specifications and tools needed for managing the license agreements, related administrative information, and internal processes associated with collections of licensed electronic resources.
Digital object identifier. For more information, see
A business rules management system based on the JBOSS Rules engine. In Alma, normalization rules are formatted in a similar manner to this system. See Working with Normalization Rules.
Dublin Core As standard to describe web and physical resources. See
Electronic collection
A collection of electronic resources that can contain packages (which include portfolios) or databases (which include URLs). See Managing Electronic Collections. Electronic collections are bundled together in a vendor interface.
Electronic resource
A digital object that is stored and managed externally from the local library or Institution Zone. See Managing Electronic Resources.
Embedded order data (EOD) record
A record with vendor-supplied fields that describe the library’s purchase order for a resource (known as "embedded order confirmation record" by some vendors). Alma imports the EOD record, enters the description into the MMS, and turns the embedded order information into a PO line.
A notation in a fund that a certain amount of the current cash balance is allocated to an impending purchase. Typically created as a result of a PO line. Encumbrances are canceled by disencumbrances (of the same amount) and typically replaced with expenditures (of the same amount). See Fund Transaction Terminology.
Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL)
A process that extracts data from the operational database and builds the Analytics data warehouse. See Data Privacy FAQs.
The workflow to decide whether to purchase an electronic resource. One evaluation instance is a trial. See Evaluations and Trials.
An action that involves at least one entity or agent in the system. Used for audit trail purposes, you can view events associated with a job on the Running and History tabs of the Monitor Jobs page, as well as in Analytics. See Viewing Completed Jobs and the Events subject area in Analytics.
Expenditure A notation in a fund balance that an invoice was paid. See Fund Transaction Terminology.
External system
An institution’s existing data management system that Alma may use as a source or target for information. Examples are a student information system or an ERP (enterprise resource planning system such as PeopleSoft). See Integrations with External Systems.
Facets are used in search results lists to filter the results. For example, PO lines may be filtered by fund, location, or digital format. See Facet Filters.
FRBR Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (see Library of Congress [PDF])
The process by which patrons borrow and return physical resources, or access electronic or digital resources. See Introduction to Fulfillment.
Fulfillment policy Stipulations of a Terms of Use contract. See Physical Fulfillment.
Fulfillment unit
A number of shelving locations with similar lending/return policies and blocks. See Physical Fulfillment.
Full text service
A service that provides the user with access to the full text of the e-resource. See Discovery Interface Display Logic.
Budgets for funding acquisitions. Funds are aggregated in a ledger. An allocated fund represents an actual budget. A summary fund is a collection of related or similar funds. See Fund Transaction Terminology.
Interlibrary loan (ILL)
See resource sharing.
Import Profile
An Alma feature defining how records from a file are imported, normalized, and mapped to Alma records. See Record Import.
Institution Zone
The area of the Metadata Management System comprising local institutional data such as locally managed bibliographic records, locally activated electronic portfolios, and local physical holdings. See Introduction to Alma Inventory.
A group of campuses/libraries managed together, the basic unit managed using a single Alma installation. Multiple institutions can share services and management tasks using a collaborative network. For example, a university may be an Institution consisting of a main library, a science library, a business library, and several specialized libraries. See Configuring the Institution and Its Libraries.
Integration profile
A mechanism for integrating the import and export processes between Alma and an external system. See External Systems.
Intellectual entity (IE)
A resource that is being managed and described in the Alma system. An IE may have one or more holdings or digital representations. See Introduction to Alma Inventory.
Interested user A user who will be notified about changes to a PO line. See Manually Creating a PO Line.
The resources that are owned or licensed by or associated with a particular library, institution, or consortium. All descriptive bibliographic metadata resides in the repository and can be edited using the Metadata management system. See Introduction to Alma Inventory.
The inventory level of a resource for fulfillment and usage. Items may include bar codes and other identification details. See Introduction to Alma Inventory.
Item Policy Stipulations of a Terms of Use contract. See Physical Fulfillment.
Itemized set
A group of objects whose set members are determined at the time the set is saved. The set is created after searching for items using a search query, but there is no stored relation between the set members and the query from which they were derived. The data in this set is static. See also Logical set.
A scheduled, invoked, or on-request process that runs in the background. See Overview of Jobs.
KnowledgeBase See Central Knowledge Base.
Library of Congress Control Number for an item. See Creating a Borrowing Request.
A collection of funds, either summary funds or allocated funds. Ledgers have a fiscal period (they are relevant for a certain period of time, such as a fiscal year) which is inherited by the funds. See Managing Funds and Ledgers.
Lending request A resource sharing request placed by another institution’s patron and fulfilled by a resource of the local institution. Otherwise known as a resource sharing incoming request. See Requests in Alma.
The basic level in the hierarchical structure of management within Alma, which is collaborative network, institution, campus, and library. A library can have departments that handled work orders, as well as locations and circulation desks that are well-known to the library patrons.
A contract between the library and a vendor for the lease of one or more copyrighted bibliographic databases or online resources. See Managing Licenses and Amendments.
Local catalog
Materials managed at your local institutions. See catalog.
Local portfolio A portfolio that exists in the Institution Zone. See portfolio.
Localizing Creating a local copy of something, such as an electronic resource. The item is copied from the Community Zone to the Institution Zone. For electronic resources, this is typically done before or while activating the resource. See Activating Electronic Resources.
A physical place where items are stored (for example, a shelving location). See Locations.
Logical set
A saved search query. The items in the change every time the set is run based on the most current results of the query. See Managing Search Queries and Sets.
Management tag
The record's brief level, as well as fields that determine whether to publish records to a discovery system or export the record. Publish and export fields can be set during record import or from within the Metadata editor. See Navigating the MD Editor Page.
MARC record
A MAchine Readable Cataloging record, a standard record format for library cataloging information,including bibliographic, authority, and holding records. See
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).
Match method
Defined methods Alma uses to identify duplicate records during a record import. When a record is loaded, Alma attempts to find a similar record based on the enabled match method. See Match Methods - Explanations and Examples.
Material type
The type of material, such as a book or electronic journal collection, from which an item takes its form. Note that the material type does not control the PO line workflow and can be modified when creating/editing a PO line. Unless hidden, an item's material type appears in Primo’s Get It/Details tabs. Material types are system-defined, but they can be enabled or disabled and their labels can be configured. See Configuring Physical Item Material Type Descriptions.
Member institution An institution that is part of a collaborative network. For example, one of the institutions implementing a shared Network Zone.
Metadata editor
The tool for editing and creating bibliographic and holdings records in Alma. See Navigating the MD Editor Page.
Metadata management system (MMS)
The interfaces, functions, and data that define institutional systems and allow them to manipulate their descriptive metadata. The MMS includes a Community Zone and a Library Zone. See Introduction to Alma Inventory.
Metadata profile
A set of configuration parameters that define the cataloging environment you use when working in the MD Editor. See Configuring Cataloging.
The record ID number. The MMS ID can be 8 to 19 digits long. See Exporting Metadata.
National Union Catalogue (NUC) Printed catalog of books from the Australia library of congress. See Publishing to Libraries Australia.
Network Zone
A management tool used by a collaborative network to centrally manage certain features, such as configuration tables, licenses, and records. A virtual institution (also called the Network Zone) is used as the management interface and central repository and catalog. See Managing Multiple Institutions Using a Network Zone.
Non-repository citations
Titles that are used for a course’s reading list, with no link to an Alma repository item. These are typically faculty resources that are not part of the institution’s inventory, such as an article at an external website. See Adding Citations to a Reading List.
Normalization rules
A set of rules that can be built and applied to bibliographic records in order to enhance the record. These rules may add fields, remove fields, or make changes to fields. The rules can be applied to an individual record during bulk import and as part of the global update process. See Working with Normalization Rules.
OCLC control number / OCLC number
WorldCat Online Computer Library Center control number. See
A type of Uniform Resource Locator (URL) that contains the address of an OpenURL Web site combined with the item's identification. The Alma Link Resolver responds to OpenURL requests and directs the patron to the resource. For more information, see
Organization unit
An institution or library. Also, a library which can be configured for fulfillment and which controls the fulfillment unit collections under its control. An organizational unit may have staff users, a physical (billing) address, departments, a circulation desk, funds, and other objects associated with it. See Library.
An automated method by which PO lines are passed through normalization and validations and are brought together into a purchase order, ready for approval. See Packaging PO Lines into a PO.
Patron digitization request
A request by a patron for the digitization of a resource. See Digitization Processing.
Patron Directory Service (PDS)
A back-end Web component that facilitates user authentication and signing in to the system. PDS is part of the standard calling application package, but it is a distinct and separate component. It does not have a user database of its own. It works with the institution’s authentication server(s) and user database(s), such as an LDAP directory service. See Alma and Patron Directory Services.
Persistent search box
A search box consisting of various search options. The persistent search box is always available from the top middle of any Alma page. See The Persistent Menu.
Alma system number for an inventory entity. It can be used, for example, by the Portfolio Loader for matching purposes. The PID can be 8 to 19 digits long. See Configuring Search Indexes.
PMID PubMed identifier. See more information about PubMed.
PO (purchase order)
A group of PO lines sent to a single vendor. Otherwise known as an order. Sending a PO is known as ordering. For more information, see Purchasing Workflow.
PO (purchase order) line
One or more copies of a bibliographic item purchased by a library. Purchases can be physical, electronic, or digital, and they may be one-time, continuous (for example, subscriptions), or standing orders. For more information, see Purchasing Workflow.
PO (purchase order) line type Also purchase type. Defines the type of inventory and continuity (one-time or continuous) of the PO line. For more information, see Explanation of Purchase Types Workflow & Inventory.
Portfolio (Inventory)
The specific coverage, services, and link information relevant for a particular electronic title within an electronic collection. May include administrative/access information. May be local or global. See Managing Local Portfolios.
Primo Ex Libris' discovery system for patrons. A single search interface that provides a gateway to a wealth of scholarly content, including print, electronic and digital collections. For more information, see this training video.
Primo Central Index Primo's central database. A mega-aggregation of hundreds of millions of scholarly e-resources of global and regional importance. These include journal articles, e-books, reviews, legal documents and more that are harvested from primary and secondary publishers and aggregators, and from open-access repositories. For more information, see this training video.
Permissions to perform certain actions in Alma, or to access specific pages, fields, or options in Alma. A user role is defined by the privileges that it grants the user. See Managing User Roles.
Process A job run on a set of records. See Working with Normalization Processes.
Process Type
How a resource is currently being processed (processing stage or work order type). See Requests in Alma.
Public trial
Trial feedback may be received from a predefined trial participant group and from general users. See Managing Trials.
A process that extracts and formats metadata for external uses, such as for discovery in Primo. See Resource Management.
Purchase request An item requested to be purchased by an instructor or patron (or on behalf of an instructor or patron). See Purchase Requests.
Reading list
A list of citations for a specific course. See Managing Reading Lists.
Reading lists may be divided into sections.
The process of accepting physical items shipped to the library by vendors. See Receiving Material.
Remote storage
An off-site storage facility. A location that is used to store physical library materials at a distance from the library. Remote storage facilities can be shared by a number of institutions and managed by a system other than the institution's library system. See Requests to Remote Storage Facilities.
Reporting code
An attribute of a PO line or invoice line that codes a type of material within the ledger and fund system. For example: monograph, e-journal. This allows reporting on funds by attributes other than the funds hierarchy. See Configuring Reporting Codes.
Repository All information that Alma has about physical titles and items, electronic titles, collections, and portfolios, digital titles and representations, management collections, and authorities. The repository includes titles for which your institution may not have any inventory, as well as your institution's normalization, merge, and indication rules. All descriptive metadata can be edited using the Metadata Management System (MMS).
Representation The digital record level under the bibliographic record level. This level acts as a container for the digital files. Multiple representations can be attached to the bibliographic record. One representation can be the master copy and another a derivative copy and can differ in format, resolution, or size. See Managing Digital Resources.
A resource request (or just "request") is for the acquisition, manipulation, movement, or processing of inventory. An external request, such as an OpenURL request, is a request to locate a resource originating external to Alma, such as a request from Primo.
For more information, see Requests in Alma.
The user for whom a request is made. The request form can be filled out by the requesting user or by a staff user on behalf of the requester. See Creating a Request from the Institution.
Resource request
A request to make a library resource available at a specific location for a specific purpose. The resource request may be triggered by a patron-initiated request or by an internal library work order requests.
For more information, see Requests in Alma.
Resource Sharing
Resource sharing enables a request by a patron in one institution fulfilled by another institution. The fulfillment of the request is invisible to the patron: the patron requests and returns the item to the patron's local institution. See Resource Sharing Workflow.
Resource sharing partner
An institution or a distinct external ILL system that participates in a resource sharing process, either as borrower or as lender. See Resource Sharing Partners.
Resource type The type of item in the repository (based on existing bibliographic fields, such as the LDR and 008) or being ordered. A resource is physical, electronic, or digital, but may have a more specific type (not including its physical material type). See Working with the Resource Type Field and Creating/Editing an Import Profile: Inventory Information.
Rota list
A list of potential lending partners that are searched to fulfill the sharing request. See Resource Sharing Partners and Rotas.
Selective package
A type of electronic collection that includes only some of the collection’s titles (as opposed to an aggregator package, which includes all of the e-collection’s titles). See Adding a Local Electronic Collection.
Service A resource that can be purchased by a library, with or without inventory. For example, a library might purchase access to a particular website as a service. See Manually Creating a PO Line.
A group of items or a saved search query. A set is created so that multiple items can be worked on by a job. See Managing Search Queries and Sets. A set is either logical or itemized.
Sip ID A number for a transitory set of records affected by a job. See Configuring Search Indexes.
A protocol from 3M that provides a standard interface between a library’s automated circulation system and library automation devices. See Configuring SIP2 Bin Configuration.
Staff user
An individual who has permissions to work in Alma. Also known simply as a user. See Managing Users.
Summary funds
Funds that are used for aggregate reporting on the subordinate (child) funds. Summary funds can contain other summary funds or allocated funds. Summary funds are not used for ordering or invoicing. See Managing Funds and Ledgers.
An operation waiting for manual user intervention. See Tasks in the Task List.
Alternatively, a single step in a process, such as a normalization process. See Working with Normalization Processes.
Task list
A list of user tasks appearing in the persistent menu. See Tasks in the Task List.
Terms of Use
A list of predefined fulfillment policies that defines the institution/library commitment to the patron and under which the service will be provided or disconnected. See Configuring Terms of Use.
A financial activity that may impact the fund’s balance. See Performing Fund Transactions.
Transit Slip
A printed slip attached to a physical item that is placed in transit. The slip identifies the requested material and its destination. For example, see Managing the Hold Shelf.
Transit time
The time it takes for a physical item to make it from one location to another. See Configuring Transit Time Rules.
An instance of an evaluation of a resource before purchasing it. See Managing Trials.
Unified resource management (URM)
The Ex Libris resource management framework that allows libraries to optimize technical support, purchasing power, collections, and staff knowledge and resources. See The URM Vision.
A person with an Alma user account: a staff user, an instructor, or a patron. See User Management.
User blocks
Flags on a user’s account that can prevent various fulfillment activities such as requests or loans. See Blocking and Unblocking Users.
User roles
The privileges that a user has to work on Alma. A user's roles (actually, the roles' privileges) determine a user's access to certain pages, fields, options and areas on certain pages, as well as the ability to run certain jobs and processes. A user role may have a specific scope, related to a specific library. See Managing User Roles.
User role profiles
A predefined group of roles (including scopes) that may be attached to users in one action. See Configuring Role Profiles.
Vendor The supplier of physical or electronic goods or services. For physical goods, the vendor is a material supplier. For electronic goods or services, the vendor is the access provider, or there may be a third-party access provider. See Managing Vendors.
Vendor account
A subset of the vendor; may contain business rules for specific types of data. For example, a rush account may contain contacts and instructions on how to handle this material. See Managing Vendors.
Vendor interface A collection of electronic collections offered by a vendor. A vendor interface is also known as a platform. See Managing Vendors.
Vendor invoice number A number assigned to all PO lines uploaded from the same invoice file from an EOD. See Embedded Order Data (EOD) Field Mapping.
A specified list of terms developed by creators of catalogs and databases to ensure precise and comprehensive searching. The terms may vary from database to database. See Configuring Controlled Vocabulary Registry.
A small visual link found on the dashboard, which can be controlled by the operator. Examples include reports for graphs suitable for your area of interest, or access to a calendar, local weather, or a link to notifications. See Managing Widgets.
Work order
An internal library request to route physical materials for internal processing. A work order sends an item to a work order department (marking it as not available on the shelf), where it can be managed according to internal statuses. Both departments and statuses are configurable and can be used to manage tasks according to a library’s local needs. See Managing Requests and Work Orders.
A client–server protocol for searching and retrieving information from remote computer databases. See Z39.50 Search.
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