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Alma October 2016 Release Notes

The October 2016 release is primarily devoted to maintenance, cloud infrastructure and other important tasks that periodically need to be handled in order to ensure that Alma meets the highest standards of performance and high availability. The release notes include several updates for October, a description of some of our current focus areas, and a few sneak previews of good things to come.


The ability to manage COUNTER reports in Alma, both for manual upload and SUSHI harvesting, is being implemented in Alma (rather than from UStat).  Five early tester institutions are using this functionality. Towards the end of the year, all Alma institutions will be moved from UStat to Alma for COUNTER reports management. For detailed information, see Managing COUNTER-Compliant Usage Data.


  • OCLC is changing the naming convention required for publishing bibliographic and holdings record files (print holdings) to OCLC. The new file name must now include both the institution symbol and collection ID. To accommodate this change by OCLC, Ex Libris has added a new field, Collection ID, to the Publishing Profile Details page. If this field is populated, the records are published using the new file name convention; if this field is left blank, the records are published using the previous file name convention. To receive a collection ID and detailed information regarding the new publishing format, including when it's scheduled to take effect and required FTP guidelines, contact OCLC. Information is also provided at
  • The Alma Network Zone publishing to Primo options now enable you to include headings enrichment data. (This was possible for standard Alma publishing to Primo in a previous Alma release.) For each MARC 21 or UNIMARC record published to Primo, Alma allows you to include the authority headings information to be used in Primo. For detailed information, see Publishing Headings Enrichment to Primo.

Community Zone

  • ProQuest Bibliographic Records Added to the Alma Community Zone – Starting with this release, and as part of the ongoing effort to enrich the metadata quality of ebook bibliographic records in the Community Zone, Ex Libris will be uploading high-quality bibliographic records from ProQuest to the Alma Community Zone. 
  • The Community Zone now supports 14 authority files. The latest additions are LCGFT (Library of Congress Genre/Form terms), French Library Name Authorities (BNF and RAMEAU - UNIMARC versions), and OCLC - FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology). For a full list of supported authority files, see Working with Authority Records.
  • Close to 350 institutions have contributed portfolios or collections to the Community Zone. Some of the latest contributions have been from the University of Oslo (Norway), Sheffield University (UK), Campion College (Jamaica), and Swinburne University of Technology (Australia).

New Services

  • In response to requests from customers over the past few years, Ex Libris is now offering a new, optional premium service called the Alma Local Backup service. Alma Local Backup provides your institution—up to once a quarter—with a copy of your core Alma production data, enabling you to load this data into one of your institution’s local, on-premises Oracle databases. Note that the purpose of this service is to provide a local backup option; it is not intended to replace any of Alma’s data export/publishing capabilities. For detailed information on this new service, see Alma Local Backup.
  • Ex Libris staff are currently using a tool to restore deleted records, developed mainly for the implementation process. The tool has proved so successful that we are preparing it for general release—to be used by Alma customers without Ex Libris intervention. For example:
    • Restore will be possible for withdraw and delete jobs – specifically withdrawing bibliographic records and items, and deleting portfolios and bibliographic records.
    • Revert to the previous version will be possible for the following jobs involving the update of bibliographic records: normalization jobs and the Change Holdings Information job.
    We will provide more details about this new tool closer to its release date.

Release-Related Enhancements

The following release-related changes will be taking place, as mentioned in an Alma News email sent out a couple of weeks ago:
  • In order to give library staff more time to test, try out, and understand new developments and features, we are enhancing our monthly release cycle. Starting with the February 2017 release, the pre-release deployment on the sandboxes will now always take place two weeks before the deployment on the production environments. For an updated 2017 Alma release schedule, see Alma Release Schedule - 2016-2017.
  • Starting with next month’s release (November 2016 release), we will enhance the release process by introducing a new section in our monthly Release Highlights email: Next Release Sneak Preview – highlights of the new features in the following month’s release.

Infrastructure and Performance Improvements

  • The Alma team has invested a great deal of effort in reducing the downtime for the service packs and service pack downtimes have indeed decreased significantly. A year ago, SP deployments took between 1-2 hours; today they involve an average of 20 minutes of downtime (may be slightly more if other cloud activities are running in parallel).
  • Ex Libris is heavily investing in enhancing its cloud search infrastructure and basing more and more of it on SOLR.  As part of this investment, we are moving various functional areas based on the ORACLE Text Search infrastructure to SOLR. The Requests area is one such example. We expect this to offer better performance and allow for more efficient cloud operations.
  • Ex Libris’ cloud team is working on enhancing the way emails can be sent from Alma, with the objective of improving the email delivery process. Currently Alma (and the cloud) send emails to users using Ex Libris’ mail relay servers. In the future, it will be possible to send emails using the institutions’ mail servers. More details on this will be available in a forthcoming release.

Documentation Enhancements

Data Services

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