Import Profiles in Alma

This document serves as the main landing page for Alliance Import Profile documentation. It contains scope notes, some basic “dos” and “don’ts”, and things to consider before configuration.  Tabs documenting specific import profile configuration settings are also provided.

Import profiles in Alma are used to add and/or update bibliographic and inventory records in batches, using an input file of MARC metadata.  Import profiles are particularly helpful during the Acquisitions process, and for the ongoing management of e-resources collections.  Alma’s import profiles are very flexible in terms of what they allow you to do.  This flexibility, however, stems from a complex suite of configuration options, and figuring out how to set up an import profile to do what you want without causing issues in the Alliance Network Zone can be challenging.

Dos and Don’ts

Things to consider before starting

Configuring Import Profiles

Alliance documentation focuses on New Order and Repository import profiles.  Future additions and revisions to this documentation may address other import types, as their use becomes more widespread within the Alliance.

Important:  Update Inventory profiles should NEVER use the NZ.  These profiles use vendor IDs from the POL to find matching records, and can cause bad overlays in the NZ if the vendor chooses a different OCN for the resource after the brief record is delivered and before the full record load arrives.

This tab contains basic information on the context for the import (IZ vs. NZ) as well as settings that define how the profile will access the input file and what data format that file will be in.  This is also where scheduling can be configured, in the case of a profile that is set to run automatically on a regular schedule.

Note that * indicates a mandatory field.

Profile Details:

  • Use Network Zone checkbox:
    • Checked
  • *Profile name
  • Description:
    • This field is optional, but can be a useful place for notes about the profile’s use.
  • *Originating System:
    • For New Order and Update Inventory profiles, select your vendor.  For GOBI, this is YBP Library Services.
    • For Repository profiles, select the source of the metadata.  This could be a vendor, but can also be a system like WorldCat.
  • File pattern:
    • If you use FTP so that Alma can automatically retrieve files, setting this up will help the import profile ignore files without the right naming pattern.  Work with your data vendor or the FTP server administrator to determine how your input files will be named, and set the pattern based on that.
    • For example, most GOBI files start with a number and end with “.ord”, so if the number always starts with consistent digits “XX”, you can set a pattern like “^XX****.ord”.  That means “Look at the start of the filename for digits XX followed by four wildcards and then .ord.”
  • Import protocol
    • Upload: Use this setting if you are going to manually upload a file every time you run this import profile.  No scheduling is possible with this option.
    • FTP/SFTP: Use this setting if the vendor is going to drop off files for you on a secure server and you want Alma to go look for new files automatically according to a schedule.
  • Crosswalk:
    • No.
  • Physical source format:
    • Binary (.mrc)  This option is useful if you’re doing record edits using MarcEdit or a similar tool prior to import, or receive files in .mrc format from a vendor.
    • Delimited Text File (.txt): This is a useful option for some cases, for example, if Acquisitions is creating many orders at once for a non-Gobi vendor.
    • Excel (.xls, .xlsx): This option, similar to delimited text, can be used to load records using a less structured format than MARC binary or XML.
    • Marc XML (.xml): This is a good option when vendors provide data in MARC XML format, or if you’re more comfortable editing records in MARC XML.
  • Encoding format (only shows when physical source format = binary) – Always use UTF-8
  • Source format – MARC21 Bibliographic
  • Target format – MARC21 Bibliographic
  • Status – Active
Profile details options

Scheduling: (FTP import protocol only)

  • Files to import – Choose “New”.  This keeps Alma from re-retrieving files that have already been imported but are still on the FTP server.
  • Scheduler status – Active
  • *Scheduler – Pick an option from the available times that suits your vendor’s drop-off schedule and your desired import frequency.
  • Email notifications – Use this button to set up email notifications to staff members when the import profile runs.
Scheduling options on the Profile Details tab

FTP Information: (FTP import protocol only)

You’ll need to work with your vendor to fill out this information.  You could send them a screenshot of this section of the configuration so that they know what you need, but most vendors will send you this information when they set up your FTP access.

If you already have an FTP server configured for this vendor/data source, you can select the “Select from configured FTP” option and choose that FTP server from the list in the “S/FTP Connection Type” field, as shown here.  If you use this option, you’ll need to specify the directory on the server where your input files are placed.

FTP connection options

If you need to set up a new FTP configuration for your vendor/data source, choose the “Other FTP Site” option and enter the following information.

  • Description – This can be a nice place to tuck any notes about the FTP setup, if needed.
  • Server – Get this from the vendor.  It will look something like
  • Port – Get this from the vendor.  The vendor may not need you to use a specific port, and it’s ok if this is blank.
  • Username – Get this from the vendor.
  • Password – Get this from the vendor.
  • Input directory – The vendor will advise you on this.  It’s the folder in your “area” of the FTP server that contains your new order records.  Don’t enter a leading slash here – just the name of the folder. (e.g., “orders”)
  • Is full path? – No.
  • Max number of files / Max file size / Size type:
    • Use these to set limits on how big the imports can be.  
    • Usually 10 files of up to 1000 MB each is sufficient for routine imports.  However, if you import on a weekly or monthly basis, you might want to increase these limits.
  • FTP server secured – Get this from the vendor.
  • FTP passive mode – Not checked

Finally, use the Test Connection button to ensure that you can connect to the FTP server.  If you have any trouble, make note of the error message you get from Alma and contact the FTP server administrator for help.

FTP information settings

Ex Libris Documentation:

Editing an Import Profile: General Profile Information

This tab is where you configure any rules you want to use to filter records out of your import or change the record data during the import.

There are no mandatory fields on this tab.


Filter out data using: 

  • If you have an Alma indication rule set up to identify records you don’t want to import (e.g. records with a non-English language of cataloging), you can specify that rule here to keep the profile from loading them.
  • Any records that were not loaded due to a filter will be shown in a separate line of the import job report.


Correct data using: 

  • If the data from the vendor needs to be altered as it comes into Alma, you can configure an Alma normalization rule and a normalization rule process to make those changes.  If you do this, specify the normalization rule process here.
  • Examples: For New Order profiles, you may wish to remove the vendor-supplied EOD present in the 9XX fields.  For repository profiles loading records from WorldCat, you should remove the 029 fields.

Validation Exception Profile

Handle invalid data using: 

  • MarcXML Bib Import is the default, and you should leave that in place.

Network Zone Records Handling

Network Zone Records Handling: 

  • No.
  • Ex Libris’s documentation on this feature leaves many questions unanswered, and without comprehensive testing, this is not a feature that is currently sanctioned for use by Alliance members.  If you’re interested in testing this, please contact the Tech Services Program Manager!
Normalization and Validation tab options

Ex Libris Documentation:

Editing an Import Profile: Normalization and Validation

This tab is where you configure “What counts as a match?” and “What happens when there’s a match?” for your import profile.  Most of the real action of importing happens based on this tab’s settings.  

Since choices made here can have unforeseen circumstances, the best approach is to carefully consider the quality and age of your incoming records and their identifiers while filling out this tab, and to test your import profile on a small number of input records before running a full import load.

Note that * indicates a mandatory field.

Match Profile

  • *Match by Serial / Non Serial:
    • Yes.  This allows the profile to be used for both types of resources.
  • Serial match method (Serial and Non-Serial):
    • Choose between:
      • “Unique OCLC Identifier Match Method” is the preferred match method for NZ imports.
      • “035 Other System Identifier Match Method” is the second-most precise match point, and should be used if OCNs are not present in the incoming records.
      • ISXN/024/035 Match Method is allowed for use if OCLC numbers and vendor IDs are not present in the 035.  This is not a precise match point, so profiles using this match method should NEVER overlay the NZ bib. (See below)
Match method options on the Match Profile tab

Match Actions

  • *Handling method:
    • Choose between:
      • Automatic: Alma will automatically use the NZ record or merge records based on your chosen “upon match” action below. (preferred)
      • Manual: If a match is found, the import process requires you to manually choose whether or not to import the record before the process can complete. (not recommended)
  • *Upon match:
    • Choose between:
      • Use NZ record: This is the preferred action, and will attach POL and inventory to the existing NZ bib, and link the NZ bib to the IZ.  No other data from the record in the input file will be added to the NZ bib.
      • Merge:  This is the second-most preferred action.  It allows you to select a merge rule (See “merge method” below) that will cause some of the data from your input record to replace data in the NZ record.
      • Overlay: Do not use.
      • Do not Import: This option can be used if you just want to run an import to see what records match your input file without taking any action.
  • Single match checkbox:
    • Yes  
    • This makes Alma consider the inventory type when identifying matching records.
  • *Merge method:
    • Choose between:
      • Keep only old value: Use when “Upon match” is set to “Use NZ Record”.
      • OCA Bib Merge (Keep 035s): This merge rule adds ONLY 035s (other system IDs) and 979s (Boundwith markers) from your incoming record to the existing NZ record if a match is found.  Other data from your incoming record is discarded. (preferred)
      • OCA Bib Overlay (Keep 035s): This merge rule replaces ALL data in the NZ record with the exception of MARC 001 (MMS ID), 979 (Boundwith marker), and any non-OCLC 035s (vendor IDs) with the data from the incoming record.  This should not be used if you are using the ISXN/024/035 match method. (See above)
  • Allow bibliographic record deletion:
    • This may be used in cases where you are importing ebook records, and wish to use the import to delete portfolios from your collection.
    • Do not use for imports of physical resources.
    • See the Alliance policy on NZ bib deletion for more details.
  • Do not override merge w/ lower brief version:
    • Do not use.
    • See the Alliance policy on this setting for more details.
      • Note that this policy needs re-testing and review.  If you’re interested in helping to test, please contact the Tech Services Program Manager.
  • Do not override Originating System:
    • Do not use.
    • This option would prevent the import process from replacing the originating system in cases where a record is merged/overlaid.  This is not desirable, as the originating system value can be a helpful audit marker if the NZ record has been edited by an import process.
  • Community Zone linked records handling: (appears only if the ignore_cz_records customer parameter is set to false)
    • Choose between:
      • Update Community Zone record with local extensions: Does not appear for import profiles using the NZ.
      • Skip record: When this option is selected and the matching bibliographic record is a Community Zone-linked record, the record is skipped. That is, no update is performed. When the profile is configured to skip CZ matches, but no match was found, the bibliographic record and the portfolio are created locally.  If no match is found in the Network Zone, no matching attempt is made within the Community Zone.
      • Unlink record from Community Zone and create a local record: When this option is selected and the matching bibliographic record is a Community Zone-linked record, the record is unlinked from Community Zone and a local copy is created at the institution level (no Community Zone cached copy is created). Any updates are performed on the newly created local record.
  • *Do not override/merge record with an older version:
    • Purpose: prevent overlaying a newer version of a bib record with an older version during record imports.
    • Context:
      • Where this functionality really is important is when any Alliance institution imports a file of vendor bib records that contain OCLC numbers. Those records could have been pulled from WorldCat years ago, and the vendor keeps providing the same set of out-of-date bib records to each customer.
      • Selecting ‘Use NZ Record’ as the ‘Upon match’ action would be the typical option selected when you have vendor-provided bib records that are not from WorldCat, but which contain OCLC numbers.
        • In these cases, you don’t want to overlay an OCLC bib record in the NZ with a vendor record, and the ‘Do not override/merge record with an older version’ option is irrelevant, as the date/time comparison is ONLY made when you select ‘Merge’ or ‘Overlay’ as the ‘Upon match’ action. 
    • Notes about the Originating System Version field:
      • Each time a bib record is imported into Alma, the Originating System Version field is automatically populated with the date/time in the 005 field of the incoming record.
      • When Connexion exports a record from WorldCat to Alma (or any destination), Connexion changes the date/time in the bib record’s 005 field to the date of download – it is NOT the date the record was last modified in WorldCat. This is a fixed behavior of Connexion and OCLC has indicated that they do not intend to change it.
      • Both the Originating System and Originating System Version fields can be viewed in the simple record view as shown below:
        • text from the simple record view in Alma showing the originating system version information
    • How this feature works:
      • The “Do not override/merge record with an older version” function operates by comparing the incoming bib record’s date/time in the 005 field against the date/time of the existing bib record’s ‘Originating System Version’ field.
    • Choose between:
      • Disabled: Selecting the ‘Disabled’ option for ‘Do not override/merge record with an older version’ (if ‘Merge’ or ‘Overlay’ has been selected as the ‘Upon match’ action) will result in the incoming record always overlaying the existing record, as you have ‘disabled’ the date/time comparison. 
      • Consider Originating System: If the Originating System values are the same, dates in the 005 (Originating System Version) will be compared and an older record will not overlay a newer record.
      • Ignore Originating System: The value of the Originating System field is ignored. Alma will only overlay the existing record if its Originating System Version is older than the incoming record’s 005 timestamp.
        • Whenever you set up an import profile to load vendor bib records, you should set the ‘Do not override/ merge record with an older version’ option to ‘Ignore Originating System’.
      • Alma does not overlay or merge an older record with a newer record if the Originating System Version date in the existing record is newer than the date in the 005 field of the imported record. 
Match handling and merge/overlay options

Automatic Multi-Match Handling

  • Disregard matches for CZ-linked records: (appears only if the ignore_cz_records customer parameter is set to false)
    • If selected, Alma will disregard CZ record matches.
    • If not selected, Alma will consider CZ records valid matches.
  • Disregard invalid/canceled system control number identifiers:
    • Yes. 
    • This prevents multi-match errors when your incoming record has an 035$z value that matches an existing 035$z or 035$a in the Network Zone.  The incoming record will match using its 035$a value only.
  • Prefer record with the same inventory type:
    • Yes.  
    • This can help Alma determine a match based on whether your incoming records’ inventory type matches inventory on an Alma NZ record (currently only ebooks).
  • Skip and do not import unresolved records:
    • Yes. 
    • This prevents the import of records that had a multi-match error during import and lets you review them using the Import job report instead of having to use the Matching section of the Resolve Import Issues page to resolve them immediately.
multi-match handling options on the Match profile tab

Handle Record Redirection

This feature is not sanctioned for use in the Alliance Network Zone because it has not been thoroughly tested.  Ex Libris documentation on the feature is unclear on which records are merged and/or deleted by this feature, and their notes suggest that in cases of multi-match on an 035$z (which are the bulk of cases where we might find the feature useful), no merge will occur.  Please leave the settings in their default state as outlined below.

  • Canceled record field – Leave blank
  • Canceled record subfield – Leave blank
  • Canceled record – Delete (default)
  • Merge method – Overlay all fields but local (default)
  • Update holdings call number – No
record redirection options on the Match Profile tab

No Match

  • *Upon No match:
    • Choose between:
      • Add to NZ (most common setting)
      • Do not import (Use this for multi-phase imports where the unmatched records from one import are used as input for a second profile with a different match method.)
      • Import to IZ (useful for editing the record and linking it to the NZ later)
options for non-matching records

Ex Libris Documentation:

Editing an Import Profile: Match Profile

This tab contains configuration options that allow you to set bibliographic-level management tags for each record imported by the profile.

There are no mandatory fields on this tab.

Set management tags

  • Suppress record/s from publish/delivery:
    • No, unconditionally.
    • Suppressing records in this way prevents them from being sent to Primo.
  • Suppress record/s from external search:
    • No, unconditionally.  
    • Suppressing records in this way can suppress them at the NZ level, which is not allowed.
  • Synchronize with OCLC:
    • If your institution uses an out-of-the-box Alma publishing profile to publish bib/holdings data to OCLC, use this setting to set the publishing tag either unconditionally or only for new records.
    • Choose between:
      • Don’t publish
      • Publish holdings only
      • Publish Bibliographic records
  • Synchronize with Libraries Australia:
    • Don’t publish, unconditionally
Set Management Tags tab

Ex Libris Documentation:

Editing an Import Profile: Set Management Tags

This tab contains the settings that tell Alma how to create inventory from the records in your input file.  If configured, you will use the fields on this page to define which MARC fields and subfields in your input file contain your Alma inventory data.

Note that * indicates a mandatory field.

Inventory Operations

*Choose between:

  • Electronic
  • Mixed
  • Physical
  • None – Use this if you do not want to create inventory based on your input file.

Alliance Guidance

Very few inventory settings are suggested by the Alliance, as members have autonomy in how they create inventory that resides in their IZs.  However, if you are creating electronic inventory, there is an Alliance best practice that portfolios should either be part of a CZ collection or part of a local electronic collection.  If you are using a local electronic collection, make sure that it is set up before you configure your import profile.

Inventory Information tab with electronic collection selected

In addition, if you are working with electronic inventory (ebooks in particular) and have selected the “Allow bibliographic record deletion” option on the Match Profile tab, then you can use the option on this tab to “Delete/Deactivate portfolios”. This can be useful in cases where you’re processing a set of records accurately marked for deletion (LDR:05=d) by the vendor.  Note that not all vendors provide reliable delete files, so check to make sure you trust the data before using this setting.  Note that choosing to “delete the bib record” via this configuration option will NOT delete any bibliographic record that is linked to the Network Zone. To delete those records, you will need to run a separate “Delete Bibliographic Records” job which will unlink the bib from the NZ and delete the resulting IZ bib.

Inventory Mapping and Holdings Record Mapping

A set of inventory information mapping options will appear based on your selection of electronic, mixed, or physical inventory type.  Full details of all of the options for each inventory type are provided in Ex Libris’s documentation below.  The documentation page also provides information on configuring the Holdings Record Mapping section.

Ex Libris Documentation: 

Editing an Import Profile: Inventory Information

This tab contains the settings needed for Alma to create POLs for your imported records when using a New Order or Update Inventory profile type.  The POL data is taken from the incoming records (based on the fields you enter in the EOD Mapping section) and from fixed data points that you enter in the EOD General Parameters section.

EOD General Parameters and EOD Mapping

The fields on this page help you instruct Alma where to find the EOD data embedded in your input records.  Full details of each field are provided in Ex Libris’s documentation below.

If you select the “Map Owner” and/or “Map Funds” checkboxes on this tab, you will need to save the profile and then edit the profile to specify what codes in the incoming data map to which Libraries/Funds on the Mapping Tab.

Note: Based on a note in the Ex Libris documentation, “when the use_network_zone parameter is set to ‘Yes’, the import profile does not create PO lines. This will be fixed in the upcoming releases.”

Ex Libris Documentation:

Important:  Update Inventory profiles should NEVER use the NZ.  These profiles use vendor IDs from the POL to find matching records, and can cause bad overlays in the NZ if the vendor chooses a different OCN for the resource after the brief record is delivered and before the full record load arrives.

This tab is where you can enter fund and location codes found in the incoming file and map them to your Alma libraries.  This allows your New Order and/or Update Inventory profile to correctly assign the fund and owning library to the POLs created during the import.

There are no mandatory fields on this tab.

Fund Mapping

If you selected the “Map funds” checkbox on the POL tab during profile setup, you should save the profile, then edit it to complete the fund mapping section of this tab.

  • Source Value = fund identifiers from the incoming file
  • Fund = corresponding fund in Alma

Location Mapping

If you selected the “Map owner” checkbox on the POL tab during profile setup, you should save the profile, then edit it to complete the fund mapping section of this tab.

  • Source Value = owning library identifiers from the incoming file
  • Location = corresponding library in Alma

There is existing Alliance documentation for some vendor and scenario-specific imports: