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October 7, 2016

Alliance News October 2016

From the Chair of the Board & Executive Director

We hope that the school year is going well. The leaves are turning and the rain is returning – all things that make us the Northwest!

At the Alliance, groups are kicking into high gear. The Courier RFP Committee met for the first time this week, the first of many steps to vendor presentations all Alliance members can listen to sometime in early 2017. Ex Libris and Alliance staff continue to meet, working on the items we identified for progress in August. We also talked with Ex Libris about the accidents that cause tremendous disruption for us. We are often the first customer to do many things, given our size and complexity. But they’ve agreed to look more proactively at their documentation and processes to try to avoid them in the future. Al Cornish returned from IGeLU full of information on changes Ex Libris is making to respond to our – and many others’ users – concerns regarding information about releases.

Dana attended the OCLC Forum in September in Salem, Oregon, and is exploring several new ways we might work with them. The Board talked about the John F. Helmer Professional Development Awards, and Jane Carlin (UPS) has agreed to lead a group to establish more guidelines for those awards. The Board and Council remain excited about these opportunities.

The Board met this week, with a full agenda to prepare for the late November Council meeting. The Board is re-examining how the Council can effectively communicate, given the amount of change in Council membership and the Executive Director this year. We continue to discuss how we can bring greater clarity to the appointment process used for all Alliance groups. The Board will hear updates on the examination of HathiTrust membership, the DPLA application process, and the work to move us to a new HR system. Last year over members participated in over 50 groups, and the time has come to count participation! The Finance Team established guidelines for member participation, and the Board will review the first-ever participation report. We expect the Council to review this in November and consider if we want any modifications to the formula. At their August retreat, the staff talked about the next Alliance conference, and started thinking about next year’s meeting. The Board will consider the recommendations.  

Lynn Baird, Chair of the Board and Council
Dana Bostrom, Executive Director

Program & Team Updates

Collaborative Workforce

CW Team
The CW Team appointed members for two working groups:
The Collaborative Workforce Inventory Working Group welcomes the following:
  • Tom Bielavitz , Chair, Portland State University    
  • Rami Attebury, University of Idaho
  • Mary Galvin, University of Oregon
  • Becky Paulson, Seattle Pacific University
  • Christy Zlatos, Washington State University
The Collaborative Workforce Expertise Working Group welcomes the following:
  • Michele Reilly, Chair, Central Washington University    
  • Morag Stewart, University of Washington
  •  Laura Tucker, Lewis & Clark College
  •  Lihong Zhu, Washington State University
We are in the process of getting each working group up and running. 

Technical Services Working Group
The Alma October release is a maintenance release and will be installed to production on Sunday, October 10. If your Institutions publishes records from Alma to OCLC please review the release notes for information on an OCLC file naming convention change and steps you will need to take. 

The New Staff Training Group for Resource Management delivered their final report containing an outline of training topics:
  • Download PDF report.
  • Chair Lori Robare (University of Oregon) and members Rami Attebury (University of Idaho), Leslie Hall (Western Washington University), Steve LaFollette (Lewis & Clark), Tom Larsen (Portland State University), and Karen Stephens (Central Washington University) did a superb job at creating this document and have already received several compliments as to how helpful the outline itself will be. Congrats all!
  • We are currently recruiting trainers to assist in development of the curriculum. Please considering joining in this effort and expressing your interest via this survey. Remember, you can work on specific subsections of topics and we will work to find partners for those wishing to collaborate.
New Staff Training Group for Serials is seeking members. Please consider nominating yourself or a colleague via this survey by Friday, October 14.

The Authority Control Group reported out on their testing results to date. The group will be meeting soon to discuss their next steps.

New pages in Documentation Center: The YBP-EOCR group has new produced new documentation: Open Calls
As a reminder the technical services open calls schedule is available on the TS Open Calls page.

Content Creation & Dissemination

Digital Collections Work Proceeds
Work in the Alliance’s Digital Collections Service is continuing and going well. With a preliminary review of a sample of Dublin Core metadata complete, an outstanding Digital Collections Working Group appointed, a programmer hired to extend the harvester, the CCD Team working actively with the Board and Council on becoming a Digital Public Library of America hub, and solid communication with the Washington State Library and Oregon State Library, the initiative is steaming along nicely!

Working Groups Abound
In September, the CCD Team completed appointments to the following working groups: The Team will make appointments to the following groups on October 10: In December, the Team will issue a call for its final working group of the year, the Share Collections Working Group, and for new additions to the Archival Collection Management Working Group 

In all cases, we’ve received outstanding nominations from a diverse set of individuals and institutions—including both those with distinguished histories of Alliance service, and those who are eager to participate for the first time. The CCD Team has been pleased to draw on the skills of so many skilled individuals!

Discovery & Delivery


  • The Systems Team recently established a new, short-term joint working group with the D&D Team: the Alliance Primo Customization JWG (APCJWG). Between now and the Primo November release, this group will identify, implement, and test potential Alliance-wide improvements to the new Primo UI, then share sustainable recommendations back with the Alliance. APCJWG members: Paul Ojennus (Whitworth), Co-Chair (Systems); Holli Kubly (UO), Co-Chair (D&D);  Bill Kelm (WU); Barbara Valentine (Linfield); Radka Ballada (Clark); Jeremy McWilliams (L&C); Kun Lin (Whitman); Dan Moore (OSU). Congratulations, members!


  • The October release is a maintenance release, with no significant changes to resource sharing or fulfillment. The release will be installed to production this Sunday, October 10th.

  • Doris Munson at Eastern Washington University coordinated an Analytics Hackfest on September 19th. With generous support from Dean Suzanne Milton, EWU Libraries hosted approximately 40 attendees, representing a wide range of institutions, technical expertise, and familiarity with analytics. Many thanks for a successful event!

Normalization Rules

  • The Alliance's Normalization Rules Working Group has built a new set of normalization rule changes that will soon be ready for Alliance-wide testing.  A detailed testing email went out on 10/4, and testers can access the proposed changes starting Monday, October 10th on the Primo premium sandbox.  Testing will continue through Monday, October 24th.

  • The Norm Rules Working Group and Norm Rules Advisory Group will be collaborating over the coming months with the Content Creation and Dissemination Team’s Unique Collections in the SILS Working Group to improve Primo access to records for unique resources in Alma.  The NRWG will also be working closely with the CCD’s Digital Content Working Group to create a central repository of shared digital objects in Primo.

New Summit WG/Summit COE appointments

  • The D&D Team has appointed new members to the newly reconfiguredSummit Working Group (focusing on daily resource sharing work) and theSummit COE Initiative (focusing on accomplishing strategic goals with Ex Libris). Both groups have already started meeting. Congratulations and welcome, new (*) and returning members!
  • Summit WG: Erin Bledsoe (CWU), Chair; Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen (OIT);  Sue Shipman (WSU); Raven Keppinger (SOU)*; Jada Pelger (UPS)*; Lindsay Lermo (CONC)*; Turner Masland (PSU)*; Stefanie Gorzelsky (STMU)*
  • Summit COE Initiative: Shanel Parette (WU), Chair; Heidi Nance (UW); Meghan Williams (WWU)*; Kate Ball Jones (UO)*

Courier RFP Committee
The Courier RFP Committee had their first meeting, and will be sharing more information, as well as gathering input from stakeholders, as they move forward.


Shared Content

After the Shared Content Team presented Council with consortial HathiTrust information at their July meeting, the Council asked the team to consider the technical feasibility of a central membership. This week, the Board reviewed that analysis and will forward it on to Council for their guidance on next steps. The HathiTrust FAQ and Technical Report are posted on the Shared Content Team’s webpage.
Wiley E-books Pilot and YBP
The Alliance is working with Wiley and YBP on agreement to integrate the Wiley Online Library pilot into the Alliance’s GOBI account. This makes the available Wiley titles listed as Alliance holdings, identifies purchases, eliminates duplicate title activation in EBL, and enables smarter collection development at the Alliance’s member libraries. The final details are still under discussion, but Wiley Online Library titles are already listed as Alliance holdings in GOBI. Take a look!
Journal Packages Under Review for 2017
This is the year the Alliance renegotiates its agreements for SAGE Premier and SpringerNature Journals. These are two of our multi-year agreements, which provides the best guard against journal inflation. Libraries are reviewing their options for SAGE Premier, and the content in the custom Springer title is under discussion.


Alma October release
The Alma October release will be installed on production this Sunday, October 9. This is a maintenance release that’s focused on infrastructure, as opposed to functionality changes. Release details are online.

Two notable items included in the release notes from ExL:

  • 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 increasing the security and reliability of email delivery. 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.

When more details are released regarding the second item, the Systems Team will evaluate this change and be prepared to offer guidance to institutions on what (if any) steps to take.

Alma release change - Sandbox testing period
This is an update to information on Alma releases that Dana shared with the Alliance in a September 5 Announce message:

Ex Libris has published a revised Alma release schedule for 2017. The two weeks of additional sandbox testing will begin with the February 2017 release (not January 2017).  

Starting with next month’s release, the Release Notes will include a section that provides a sneak peek into the following month’s release. (That is, the November release notes will include a section describing the major features in the December Alma release.)

Planned phaseout of passwords stored in Alma
For Alma internal accounts, support for storing the password in Alma will be phased out, with support expected to end in mid-2018. An Authentication Task Group created by the Ex Libris user groups is working with Ex Libris managers on this planned change. The group will be communicating with the Alma user community in the coming days, and will survey the community on use cases. Please subscribe to ALMA-L if you’re interested in being engaged with this work. Subscription informationis available online.   

Editor's Note

Please send any feedback, thoughts, or suggestions for future content to Cassie Schmitt.

Check out the Alliance News on the web for future reference.
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