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June 7, 2016

Local Fields Best Practices Discussion

Proposed Local Fields Best Practices:


  • Use local fields for the uses defined in the table of Local Fields in Alma & Primo. If a local field is needed for a new use, submit a description of the new requirement to the CWT's Technical Services Working Group which will coordinate the necessary changes.
  • Most local fields in Alma are designed to mimic a specific non-local MARC 21 field. The local and non-local field equivalencies are shown in the table of Local Fields in Alma & Primo. It is essential that local fields that are designed to mimic regular MARC 21 fields must be formatted in the same way as those MARC 21 fields, including indicators and use of subfields, as the Primo normalization rules that control display and searchability are designed based on the assumption that the local fields will be formatted the same as the relevant non-local field.
  • Include the name (or abbreviation) of your institution in local headings whenever possible and appropriate. This will inform patrons from other Alliance libraries which copy of a resource, or to which institution's collection, the heading or note applies. In the current catalog environment patrons are likely to see bibliographic information from multiple libraries. 
Note: The 2016 Local Fields Review Group identified a problem in Primo where using an Ex Libris customer institution code (often, but not always, the same as the normal abbreviation for an institution) causes a problem with the search, even if the abbreviation is present in the heading or in the field containing the heading. This problem was reported in April 2016 in Alliance Salesforce Case #00217673 and we are waiting for a response from Ex Libris Development. When this bug in Primo is corrected, the best practice above will be updated with the different ways the institution can be recorded in local fields.

Companion Material

The proposed Local Fields Best Practices are designed to be used with the information on the Local Fields documentation page including:
  • FAQ/Notes
  • Table 1 – Local Fields in Alma & Primo (Overview)
  • Table 2 – Local Fields in Primo (Details)

Please review the proposed best practices along with the companion materials and provide any questions, comments, or feedback.
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Comments (8)
I think it would be helpful if we mentioned in the best practice that it does not apply to 590 fields. 590 is the first field I think of when I think of local fields and it would be nice to know up front that I don't need to apply this rule to that specific field and that I don't need to click through to the table of local Alma fields to find out for sure. But if I'm not using 590 for a local note those tables are going to be very helpful. I have a hard time remembering which local field is equivalent to which regular MARC field.
By: Kathy Faust - Jun 14, 2016
Kathy, Why would you want to save a 590, which be definition is local information, as part of the master OCLC bib record instead of saving it in Alma as a local field? Or is that not what you're saying?
By: Bob Thomas - Jun 14, 2016
Bob, I may have misunderstood what this best practice applies to. I was thinking we were talking about the local fields in the local bib record and not local fields in the master bib. You're right, I wouldn't save a 590 to a master bib record.
By: Kathy Faust - Jun 15, 2016
Kathy and I had an offline conversation and the important point from that conversation is that in the Alliance's list of defined Alma local fields, the 590 field is one of those fields and needs to be treated as a normal Alma local field (formatted like a 500 field, with the subfield $9, etc.).
By: Bob Thomas - Jun 15, 2016
I may be getting the wrong impression here. Can you give more details about SFC 00217673? What exactly is the problem and how serious is it? It sounds like adding an institution name (when it is the same as the Alma code?) will break searching in Primo, which kind of defeats the purpose of the local field. And it sounds like the fix will include different best practices on how to publicly indicate institution in local fields. So if the current best practice breaks Primo, and the future practice will be something entirely different, why include the current instructions at all? Institutions might want more details about what is broken so they can judge whether or not it is worth doing, at least.
By: Diana Brooking - Jun 16, 2016
Diana, it is not the case that adding the institution name in a heading breaks searching. Adding the institution name in the form of the ExLibris customer code causes local notes to randomly display or not display in the Details tab in Primo (though they are still searchable).
By: Tom Larsen - Jun 16, 2016
I think this documentation is very clear and helpful overall. I am also a little confused about what to do right now in terms of including the institution name. Currently we tend to do it for notes but not for headings. If we should start doing it now for headings, we would need more guidance on format, or clarification of how much leeway we have to make this decision ourselves. I looked back at the report of the Local Fields Review Group, which reviewed possible options extensively and identified challenges with different approaches, but didn't specify a particular format. I realize that the Primo bug is an obstacle to figuring this out, but perhaps the language in the proposed best practice could be clearer about what to do while we are awaiting a resolution. "Wait and see" is my takeaway, but it took awhile to get there.
By: Lori Robare - Jun 17, 2016
Lori, I'll add a sentence to clarify what to do until the Primo bug is fixed.
By: Bob Thomas - Jun 20, 2016
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