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    How to – Implement Primo Database Search, with the Alma category tree

    Created By: Stacey van Groll
    Created on: 3/01/2019

    Read Me!

    Before implementing this functionality, please check out this Idea Exchange submission (24.5.19) and consider voting: Prevent 9xx local fields from being saved to Community Zone (CZ) records

    Please - be a good community member and do not add your local db_category MARC field to Community Zone records.  The Creates DB Categories File job in Alma will publish any unsuppressed database records with your chosen MARC db_category field, regardless of Institution Zone or Community Zone. This is why it is vitally important that all sites abide by the Community Zone Contribution Guidelines.  If another site picks the same db_category field as you and adds local data to a CZ record, their category will be in your tree

    Update February 2020 - Ex Libris have introduced new 'Local extensions' in the Alma and Primo February 2020 Releases to try to solve the problem of sites adding local data to CZ records.  We have chosen not to move to this option as our preference for corrective action would have been for Ex Libris to reinforce the Community Zone standard guidelines for localization. We prefer to maintain a distinct separation between shared community records which should be completely site neutral (or used to be), and local records which we have adjusted to suit our specific needs and configuration, and to not add confusion, additional management, and configuration work to this clear delineation by blending of the two. We have given feedback to Ex Libris on this, including that these 'Local extension' fields are not mandatory and therefore the same problem remains for sites adding local data to CZ records, and have also asked that the Guidelines be updated accordingly. The Release Notes are linked below for those who wish to use this option.



    When migrating from Millennium and Summon to Alma and Primo in 2016, we noted that Ex Libris did not offer a replacement product for our local ‘Database Gateway’.  We were aware that a Database Search for Primo was in development, so we decided to update our local version in the interim to work on Alma instead of Millennium data, and wait.  When introduced in November 2017, we were disappointed to find that there was no categorization option, so we continued to maintain our local UI and encourage further development of this functionality to Ex Libris.  In November 2018, categories were added to Primo Database Search, and we began our project to transition.

    This project saw several improvements to both our user experience and our staff processes including

    • Implementing direct linking for Alma-E, to ensure feature parity from our local version of one-click access from the Availability Status in Primo Database Search
    • We simplified our front-end for users by merging 3 separate local Gateway pages for our main subject categories, our Library walk-ins licensed databases, and databases licensed for UQ Alumni into one Database Search on Primo
    • Our back-end processes for Library staff were considerably simplified through utilising the standard automated Alma to Primo publishing workflows, and we were able to dismantle manual processes which initiated cron jobs on an Alma set to a local server, two API calls to get bibliographic and license data, which were then transformed and merged into a local mrc script for display in our front-end
    • We also simplified our Alma metadata by going from maintaining 5 local fields to support our local service of 690, 691, 956, 958, and 997, to 2 local fields to support Primo Database search of 965 and 992
    • We added the Database Categories field also as Search and Display in main Primo, to marry main Primo and Primo Database Search, to highlight even further our curated Database Categories to our users, and to act as a little boost for broad topic searches by these terms, based on our school and course code clusters
    • Using a local 9xx field as our Database Category field allowed for adding the field as a Search Index in Alma and as a Local Param in Analytics (which was the only option for Analytics up to the January 2019 release), giving our Library staff much better options for retrieving and managing these curated records

    We successfully went live on Primo Database Search on 14th January 2019.


    UQ’s Database Category field and subfield structure

    We chose a primarily subject heading category in subfield a, and then used subfield b to designate key resources.

    This is swapped for Library walk-ins in subfield a, with the subject categories in subfield b.

    We currently only use these two Tiers, even though Ex Libris allows for up to three Tiers.

    • The Controlled Vocabulary list was duplicated for both subfield a and subfield b for ease of use, with a structure as follows:
      • 965 $$a Approved subject category
      • 965 $$a Approved subject category $$b Key resource
      • 965 $$a for UQ alumni
      • 965 $$a for Library walk-ins $b Approved subject category
      • 965 $$a Open Educational Resources (OERs)
      • 965 $$a Open Access
    • Category notes
      • Approved subject categories in subfield a may or may not have a Key resource subfield b
      • for UQ alumni are only ever subfield a and never have a subfield b
      • for Library walk-ins in subfield a will always have an approved subject category under subfield b
      • Repeat for Library walk-ins entries for each approved subject category
      • Open Educational Resources (OERs) does not have a subfield b
      • Open Access does not have a subfield b


    Systems Specs

    • Alma, and Alma Institution Zone records
    • Primo New UI, in English only
    • Primo Multi-tenant Back Office
    • Configuration time: 2-3 hours, plus time for indexing and hotswapping
    • Configuration difficulty: Medium, with Alma and Primo configuration required, but no customization package work


    Configuration Order Summary

    The following is a suggested workflow for managing your implementation of Database Search, including the category tree, in Alma and Primo BO New UI.

    Screenshots of some areas will follow, other than very self-explanatory areas.

    I’ve also noted where configuration is extra ie not mandatory.  For example, you could choose to leave all the labels out of the box (OTB), or you could choose to disregard my suggestions to map your chosen Database Category field into Analytics.


    • Choose your Alma MARC Database Category field
      • Seriously – this should be your first decision, and you don’t want to be changing your mind later
      • There are significant benefits to choosing a 9xx field, such as Alma search index functionality and Alma Analytics Local Param mapping
    • Alma: Search Indexes for your Database Category field - extra
      • Configuration Menu > Resources > Search Configuration > Search Indexes
      • Configuration Menu > Resources > Search Configuration > Customize Indexes Labels
    • Alma: Controlled Vocabulary for your Database Category field - extra
      • Configuration Menu > Resources > Cataloging > Controlled Vocabulary Registry
      • Configuration Menu > Resources > Cataloging > Metadata Configuration
    • Alma: Add your chosen MARC field and metadata to your chosen IZ records (please never add local fields to Community Zone records!)
      • Suggestion: Use MarcEdit to do this in bulk by creating sets by your Local 9xx search index and exporting and importing (not detailed here)
    • Alma: Local Param for Alma Analytics - extra
      • Open a SalesForce case and ask Ex Libris to map your chosen MARC field as a Local Param into Analytics
    • Do data checks in Alma and Analytics, and adjust as needed
      • Gotcha! Make sure all of the records with your chosen Database Category are actively published to Primo, with a linked and unsuppressed IZ Descriptive Record, and an Electronic Collection URL.  There is a known issue of problems with the Alma Create DB Categories File job, caused by records ‘suppressed’ from Primo
    • Primo Normalization Rules
      • Alma MARC Normalization Rules – Display: Type
      • Alma MARC Normalization Rules – Search: Search Scope
      • Alma MARC Normalization Rules – Facets: A-Z
      • Alma MARC Normalization Rules – Facets: DB Category
    • Primo Normalization Rules - extra
      • Alma MARC Normalization Rules – Search: lds43
        • If you do this, you’ll also need to configure your front end display field and add to your view (not detailed here)
      • Alma MARC Normalization Rules – Search: lsr43
      • Alma MARC Normalization Rules – Search: lsr44
    • Primo Code Tables - extra
      • DB Search – Labels for suggestion box and language translation
      • View Labels – Labels for Main Menu links
      • Search Tile – Labels in Database Search
      • A to Z List – Labels for A-Z display in Database Search
      • Error messages – Labels for the Zero Results message, which is used for main Primo and also Database Search
    • Primo: Save and Deploy your Normalization Rules and Code Tables
    • Primo: Run your No Harvest Alma pipe
    • Wait for Indexing and Hotswap
      • Gotcha! – Remember the timing of the Alma Creates DB Categories File here, which is 3am.  If you enable the Alma job before your Primo PNX has the dbcategory field, you will have a Primo Database Search with an Alma category tree that gives the zero results message until your Primo records catch up!
    • Alma: Configuration Menu > Resources > General > Other Settings
      • Assign the Database Category field via db_categories_field and Save
    • Alma: Admin > Monitor Jobs > Scheduled tab
      • Enable the Creates DB Categories File job to populate your db_category entries
    • Wait for the first run of the Alma DB Categories File job at 3am
    • Primo: Ongoing Configuration – Institution Wizard
      • Delivery Based URLs – DB Category – select same API URL to enable the display of categories in UI
    • Primo Views Wizard – Main Menu tile
      • If you want to use the Main Menu to display a Database Search link (we don’t use this, so refer to main OLH linked below as needed)
    • Save and Deploy All
      • You could just Deploy Views and Institution Base URLs, but sometimes the Back Office likes it if you do a Deploy All


    Alma: Search Indexes for your Database Category field

    • Configuration Menu > Resources > Search Configuration > Search Indexes
    • Configuration Menu > Resources > Search Configuration > Customize Indexes Labels
      • If you choose to change the label for staff in Alma


    Alma:  Controlled Vocabulary for your Database Category field

    • Configuration Menu > Resources > Cataloging > Controlled Vocabulary Registry
    • Configuration Menu > Resources > Cataloging > Metadata Configuration

    Gotchas!: Make sure you Assign, and Save, and Deploy


    Alma: Local Param for Alma Analytics

    • An example of a Main Menu report set up for Library staff to easily find all the Primo Database Search records in Alma Analytics


    Primo BO: Alma MARC Normalization Rules – Display: Type

    Why? – This step ensures Alma Electronic Collection Type (ECT) of Database are correctly assigned the Database resource type in Primo by adding the display type field to the PNX


    Primo BO: Alma MARC Normalization Rules – Search: Search Scope

    Why? – This step ensures Alma databases are returned in Primo Database Search by adding the AZDB search searchscope field to the PNX