Alma: Notifications Widget

In order to keep up with important information related directly with Alma, it is vital you have the “Notifications” widget installed on your Alma dashboard. To do this, log into Alma. Then, click on the + sign over to the right of your name:

It will bring up a new window, asking you which widgets you would like to install:

Click the box next to “Notifications”:

Then click the “x” in the top right corner of the “Manage Widgets” box to close it:

Then voila! You are receiving notifications:

This box will be used for informing the staff of important updates, enhancements, down time, OCLC issues, anything that might relate to Alma. Please install this widget in order to stay informed. Thank you!

Your friendly neighborhood LTDS

What has LTDS been doing the week of 8/31-9/6

Alma/Primo (Jamen, Nancy, Tao)
* Replaced Alumni IDs with Alt-IDs (from Sirsi)
* Continued to work on clean-up projects including the duplicate charges
* Configure Sandbox access
* Continue working on notification letters

Desktop/Application support (Judy, Matt, Nancy, Jamen)
* Deployed a few new laptops
* Processed new and released ETD’s/troubleshoot ETD’s
* Ordered equipment, computers and software
* Troubleshooting hardware issues
* Worked with VUIT on increasing resources to improve performance

Digital Collections (Nathan, Judy, Scott)
* DIL got up to full speed with a working plan for scanning
* Continued to upload items into the system
* Scanned items for upcoming Divinity exhibit
* Created book batches to prepare items for ingest
* Ingesting ESSSS scans & troubleshooting

Web/Web applications (Jodie, Jamen, Matt)
* Drafted document detailing the election process for Library Advisory Council
* Resolved several issues with the commodore-r-group repo/website in Github
* Renewed & installed SSL certificates
* Setting up “From the Director’s Chair” box on Biomedical home page
* Continued cleaning up formatting issues
* Implemented accessibility improvements on Heard and division home pages

Other (all):
* Triage inform tickets
* Alumni access issues
* Answering Libanswers related to Alma/Library Catalog
* Training of LTDS Student Assistants
* Calibrate and test 3D printer upgrade
* Begin adding LogMeIn and local accounts to podium computers

Inform tickets resolved through Thursday:

What happens with my links to books and searches in Alma?

I have links to books and searches in Acorn.  What happens when we migrate from Acorn and DiscoverLibrary?

Many people have created links using the options available at to use in training materials as well as permalinks from DiscoverLibrary and to FindIt@VU (SFX) resources.  LTDS has created several redirects that will allow these links to continue to work after we go live with Alma/Primo.    We believe that these redirects will handle the majority of links to resources.  However,  if you encounter a broken link please submit an INFORM and we can review the issue.

We have attempted to simulate the type of links in the new system.  A full list of the current type of redirects is available at .  Please let me know if you have any questions about the type of redirected searches or if we have missed any links.


Technical Freeze Starts This Weekend – So What Can I Do??

What is going to happen this weekend? What will I be able to do? What can be done during the Technical Services freeze? These are all valid and reasonable questions, which I will try to address in this post. No fear, though – you will still be able to work!

Starting this weekend (June 22/23), as soon as Mary Ellen completes the fiscal year roll over (after which she will notify myself), I will launch several scripts on the Acorn server in order to do the full extract of our Symphony data. This is a server-load intensive process and requires several hours of work, during which time Workflows/Acorn will be impacted. You may see slowness. You may have difficulty logging into Workflows. Acorn (web catalog) may be down. DiscoverLibrary will only be impacted if it has trouble picking up the Real-Time Availability information from Symphony, but searching should be fine. My Account feature may also be impacted. But please be patient. We have to do this because Ex Libris needs the data no later than Wednesday, June 27; but our goal is to get the extract done by Monday, June 25, so we can review the data for any errors.

In addition to Acorn, we also need to provide Ex Libris a full extract of our SFX and Verde data. Those processes do not take too long to complete and since they are on separate servers, will not have a huge impact on library services.

But Symphony is a different beast. You may wonder why it takes so long. This is because not only are we extracting all of the data (which, by the way, are millions of records), but we also have to modify some of the data in order to meet Ex Libris’s data requirements (specifically, the Invoices and Orders). This is where it gets tricky, which is why we want a day or two in order to review the data to make sure it is as accurate as we can get it before sending it off. We know from experience that we cannot always depend on the scripts to run correctly all of the time, so we need to be able to re-run the scripts if it obvious there was a problem.

During this time, we specifically request that no large reports be ran because that will slow the process down even further. If it is apparent that a report is running and it taking longer than normal, I will kill the report which means you will need to re-run it once the extract completes. We want to get this done as quickly and as efficiently as possible. In order to do that, we need to minimize the number of processes running on the server, which includes reports.

Once the extract is complete, everything should return to normal. However, if you modify a bibliographic record, add an item record, pay an invoice or any other Technical Services activity after the extract completes, that data will be LOST because we will not be doing another extract of our entire system. On July 18, there will be a Circulation Freeze after which we will need to use Alma’s Offline Circulation Utility for circulation transactions. This means all functions within Symphony should be discontinued. At this time, I will extract patrons, loans, and holds from Symphony and send to Ex Libris. And on July 20, we go live with Alma.

Between June 22 and July 20, you can still use Symphony for running reports, as long as they are read-only reports (not writing). This would be a good time for any statistical data you need to gather. You could also be looking for problems that are currently in Symphony (problem records, diacritics, etc.) and make note of these so that at Go Live, you have a list of items you can check to see if they are any better. You can also compare with our Alma instance at that time to see how the data looks. Alma will be available during most of this time until Ex Libris copies over the data, so you can continue testing and training and honing your skills. This would also be a good time to go through the various training modules available from Ex Libris (, especially if you are unclear on how to do something, so there is plenty of work to be done.

We are trying to make this as painless as possible, but take a deep breath. Learn. Live. Laugh – and have fun. We are all in this together!

Post conference report for ELUNA 2018

Ex Libris User group North America (ELUNA) 2018 conference was held at Spokane, WA during May 1st to May 5th, 2018.  here are some takeaways from me.

General Impression: 

The conference was well organized,  in addition to a nice conference program booklet, all presentation slides are made available to attendee in Sched; it was well attended, this is the first time more than 1000+ people attended the conference.  It is a friendly and enthusiastic community, no matter whom you met, whether they are in the process of migration, a newly migrated customers, or an experienced users, everyone is willing to help, to share tips and tricks, to provide suggestions, and to voice concerns.

Useful and amazing sessions I attended during the conferences: 

Exlibris product updates:

  • Primo VE: see the benefits of streamlining Primo and Alma
  • Extending your library with the Alma Open Platform:  Developer API

How things are done at other libraries:

  • New Book Showcases via Primo / University of Manitoba
  • Implementing new books location and a new items list / Univ. of Minnesota Duluth
  • Alma integration: connecting other systems / Williams College
  • SpringShare suite integration

Technical tips and tricks:

  • Alma Fulfillment configurations
  • Target messages using Alma letters and notifications / Oregon State University
  • Intermediate analytics and reports functions and examples


  • Julie, Calida, Erin and I met Travis from ETSU, to learn about how ETSU manages digital databases and E- resources in Alma, and generate and maintain libguides database A-Z list using Alma records.
  • Our Alma implementation team met with Rice Alma implementation team, exchange ideas on migrating to Alma from SirsiDynix Symphony
  • Bluegrass user group and Tennessee Alma users met at Eluna

Links to conference documents: 

Presentation slides for customer presentations will be posted to the ELUNA Document Repository as soon as is possible. Likewise, Ex Libris will be posting slidedecks from its staff presentations to the Knowledge Center soon.

What are they talking about?

Are you hearing discussions about Alma and Primo and think that people are speaking a completely new language? Well, they are! But help in understanding it is just a click away.

ExLibris has an excellent glossary on their Knowledge Center site here:

Alma Glossary

You can go to a particular term and see a definition and then click on links at the end to see more detailed information.

Give it a try! Look up “Fulfillment”, “Community Zone” or “Metadata editor”. Or get really crazy and look up “Selective package”!

Bookmark the link to the glossary and have fun learning the new language!

2017 Library Checkouts Overview

In Year 2017, the library checked out 124,570 items to faculty, graduate students, undergrads, and Vanderbilt community, that’s 341 items a day!

Most checked out titles 

The most checked-out individual titles in 2017 are:

  • HD30.22 .F76 2016, in Management Library, Managerial economics : a problem solving approach,  checked out 151 times during the year.
  • Come really close is ‘QD415 .V65 2016’ in science library, Fundamentals of biochemistry : life at the molecular level  checked out 148 times;
  • Third one is ‘QD253.2 .K55 2015’, also in science library, Organic chemistry, checked out 111 times during the year.
  • Fourth one: HD58.6 .N45 2015′, in management library, Negotiation : readings, exercises and cases, checked out 55 times

Did you know juvenile fictions (LC classification of PZ7)  and early childhood education books are popular collections to be checked out among students and faculty?

In juvenile fiction category, the top popular titles are:

  • PZ7 .P448558 Ral 1995:  Rainbow Fish to the rescue!
  • PZ7 .R1814 Bal 2011: A ball for Daisy
  • PZ7 .K28132 Far 2002: Farfallina & Marcel
  • PZ7 .L32073 My 2016: My sister Rosa
  • PZ7 .W65535 Th 2007: There is a bird on your head!
  • PZ7 .R3476235 Tow 2016: Towers falling

DVDs from Blair School of Music recital recordings are most checked-out DVDs. Besides the musical DVDs, the top popular video DVDs are:

  • DVD 7049: Dangerous living : coming out in the developing world
  • DVD 6527: Star Wars, episode VII, the force awakens (Motion picture)
  • DVD 6644: God’s not dead (Motion picture)
  • DVD 6809: Au revoir les enfants (Motion picture)
  • DVD 3116: Memento [videorecording]

Here is a list of popular topics for students from each school:

  • For Divinity students, they enjoyed reading titles on Art and Religion(BR115) and Asian American Religion (BR563). 
  • For Music students, they checked out lots of scores for Songs with Piano (M1620). 
  • Peabody students read and checked out titles in Early childhood education (LB1139.5).
  • For Management students, Managerial economy (HD30.22) is the major topic of their checked out items.
  • Students walked into Central library are most likely to checkout DVDs, or titles on African American history (E185.615).
  • Students use Science library the most, will check out periodicals and titles on Biochemistry.

Did you know in year 2017, our library users are most likely to check out books published in between 2013 and 2016?

The pattern is specially true for Science library users and Management library users:

But for music library users tends to checkout scores either quite new (2017) or published at the beginning of 21st century.

When checkouts happened?

For most libraries,  more students came to library in between 2pm to 5pm to checkout items; but law students and faculty use the library more often in the morning than in the afternoon, the peak checkout hour for law library was 10am.

Checked out hours for Law library users:

Did you know the most popular checkout day of the week is Tuesday? This is true to all libraries.

Did you know 1/9 and 1/10 are the busiest checkout day of 2017 for Central Library? Total 375 and 338 items were checked out respectively from Central library.   The most busy day for each library are listed here:

  • 2/23: Peabody
  • 8/4: Law
  • 8/13: Management
  • 8/30: Science
  • 11/16: Music library
  • 12/5: Divinity

The system wide busiest checkout dates were:   01/09,  01/10, 11/6, 11/28,  3/13, 1/11, 10/17, 10/30,10/24, 3/21, 3/27. On each of those dates, above 500 items were checked out throughout the library system.

Want to find out more on library usage patterns, interesting facts and numbers?  Submit an inform, we at LTDS will find out an answer for you.