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Alma Library Services Platform: Home

Why on earth is Schaffer Library heading to the cloud?

Schaffer Library has been using the same library system since 2003. At that time a library was understood to be a building full of books and journals that required a personal visit in order to use its resources. If you needed a journal article you might have to photocopy it yourself.

So much has changed since then, not only in the way academic libraries acquire and provide access to resources but even more so with the expectations of its users.  Our automated system is still designed around the assumptions of a library in 2003.

In 2017 a library committee investigated options and determined that Alma, from the vendor Ex Libris offered a fresh, exciting, secure, cloud-based, multi-tenant Library Services Platform. Alma is designed to meet the needs and expectations of scholarly researchers.

Alma Implementation Timeline

January 2018
Prepare data for migration
Study Alma documentation    
Plan for transition
March 2018
Load data and test
Fail - reconfigure        
Test 3rd party integrations  
March 16th, 2018
Suspend ConnectNY borrowing
April, 2018
Begin staff training
May 27th, 2018
Cutover: reload data - go live on Alma
Summer 2018
Continue implementation and development on live system
and beyond
Develop resource sharing relationships with other Alma libraries


All of that is very well but I need more details....

Alma places electronic resources at the center of the library, where they already are.  For the library user what was referred to as "circulation" (borrowing books) is now conceived as "fulfillment", i.e., when discovering appropriate research materials the user is able to:

  • access the content directly in electronic format or
  • retrieve the physical item from the shelf or
  • place a request for the electronic or physical item if the library does not own it

all through a single interface. 

Alma provides methods for integrating with other systems including

  • vendors that the library does business with
  • other Alma libraries
  • other systems on campus. 

We wil be able to update our data directly, place orders with vendors, and ingest their metadata in real time.  3rd party integrations like this will simplify our workflows and improve our services.

Being cloud-based and multi-tenant means that the vendor develops and updates a single copy of the software which is shared by all customers.  This simplifies the delivery of regular enhancements and bug fixes.

Being a platform means that Ex Libris has designed the system in a way that will allow them to build and adapt Alma's services to the evolving needs of its customers.

Managing electronic resources has been a challenge for libraries.  Their acquisition, ongoing management, and presentation are fundamentally different from print resources.  Existing library systems have tried to graft e-resource management on top their existing codebase in a modular fashion. Referred to as ERM (electronic resource management), these efforts were largely unsatisfactory. Alma solves this through Universal Resource Management, providing staff with a single interface and associating appropriate tasks and workflows according to the resource type.

redirecting your requests

We have always tried to provide access to the best and most relevant scholarly content to support teaching and research.  When we don't own a resource we try to borrow it from other libraries.  Currently this might involve a request through the ConnectNY consortium, or through Inter-Library Loan.  

Beginning March 16th, all requests will be handled through Inter-Library Loan. We will update update our services at that time to direct your requests appropriately.