Jimmy Ghaphery of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) shared the public side of the universal resource management system, Alma. As an early adopter, VCU migrated to Alma b/w April to October 2012 from their existing array of systems: SFX, ARC, Aleph, and Verde. January 2013 included further migration to Alma OpenURL and Alma CourseReserves.
Ghaphery emphasized the benefit of Alma as the back-end system upon which other layers can be added. Alma at VCU means no other catalog for users. Staff search as the public do and there has been no huge uproar. Although, browse functionality necessary and this functionality and need appears to be a bigger issue in humanities research.
Ghaphery noted the OpenURL interface as one of the most used by our public and found Alma provided a better visibility, especially of print holdings. There is still a need for better support for custom parsers in order to include collections not indexed by PrimoCentral.
The details of the back-end system was presented by Erika Johnson (Boston College) who emphasized the dashboard and task list interface and the system requirement to set up workflows. Staff training in this was done in house, not ExLibris, and within a sandbox. The benefit of the system, is that it knows the next step in a workflow, you don’t have to tell it or track and then manually push an event to its next step. For example, if you created the order and then “sent to vendor” it automatically moves to the “activation” task list. Alma tasklist and workflow design and centralization structure simplifies the renewal process in one system.
Johnson also talked a bit about Alma Analytics which allows a number widgets to produce budget, task, and cost per use analysis reports. In the April release, this cost per use tool will be visible from the search interface, and potentially coming into the Primo interface as well. Johnson noted their prior reorganization which created a continuing/e-resource and metadata unit, worked well for Alma implementation.
Susan Stearns (Ex Libris) finished up with additional Alma updates and summarized the four major areas of evaluation focus on which they have worked closely with partners.
1) Streamlining workflows
2) Increased visibility through Analytics
3) Creating an environment for collaboration (ARL community facilitation, OrbisCascade award, infrastructure to support sharing resources on both collection and technical services )
4) Becoming agile — agile development and a different (agile) mindset required for dashboard workflow interface