Local Fields Best Practices, FAQ, and Tables

This page includes:

Best Practices

  • Use local fields for the uses defined in the table of Local Fields in Alma & Primo (below). If a local field is needed for a new use, submit a description of the new requirement to the Program Manager for Technical Services, who will work with the community and Cataloging Standing Group to approve and implement 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 (below). 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.
  • Institutions should include their institution name in headings where it makes sense (for example, ‘Associated Students Collections (Western Washington University)’ rather than ‘Associated Students Collections’). Using institution names in local headings will not cause any problem in Primo and will assist patrons in other institutions in knowing which institution a heading is associated with. However, making changes to existing local headings is not required.
    • 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.
  • Be aware that until this bug is fixed, using an abbreviation (for example, ‘Associated Students Collections (WWU)’ may cause a problem in Primo (as described in the working group’s report) if both a) your institution abbreviation and your Ex Libris customer code are the same, and b) a patron uses that abbreviation as a term in a Primo search. Until this bug is fixed, it is recommended institutions not add an additional field (for example, a subfield $5) containing the institution’s abbreviated name to headings or notes, unless it is a practice already in place at your institution. As soon as Ex Libris fixes this Primo software bug, these best practices will be reviewed and modified as appropriate.


  • Information about Local Fields in Alma Online Help. The main online help page on local fields is Network-Managed Records in a Network Zone > Adding Local Extensions to Bibliographic Records in the Network Zone.
  • Adding Local Fields using the ME. There are two methods of creating local fields in Alma. The first method is to use the Edit > Add Local Field (Ctrl+L) command in the Metadata Editor. When using this command, Alma creates a field with an invisible subfield $9 containing the string “local” (all lower case). This subfield $9 is used by Alma to mark fields as local, i.e., they are stored in an institution’s Institution Zone and are not lost when the bib record in the NZ is overlaid by the WorldCat record. Although this subfield $9 is not displayed in Alma (the local field building icon is displayed instead), it is present in local fields when bib records are exported.
    • Note: Using “local” or “LOCAL” in a subfield $9 both work in Alma, i.e., Alma treats headings with either string as a local field. Just be careful to either a) be consistent in which form you use in your local fields, or b) when creating normalization rules be sure to test for the presence of either string before adding a new subfield $9.
  • Adding Local Fields using Norm Rules. The second method of adding local fields is to a normalization rule to add a local field one-at-a-time in the Metadata Editor, or to batch add a local field to a set of bib records. The normalization rule must include the addSubfield command as shown below:


addField “590.a.Gift of Julie Andrews.”

addSubField “590.9.local” if (not exists “590.9.local”)


  • How NOT to Add Local Fields. Using the Metadata Editor Edit > Add Field (F8) command and then add the “$$9local” subfield in the ME does NOT work. The field will be a normal field in the NZ and will be lost when the NZ bib record is overlaid. Similarly, adding the “$9 local” subfield in Connexion before downloading the bib record into Alma will also NOT work, and the new field will again be lost when the NZ bib record is overlaid.
  • Changing a Field’s Behavior vs. Using a Different Field. If a library has data in a particular local field and that local field does not have the characteristics that they want for that data in terms of display, searchability, and clickability, rather than requesting changes to that field’s characteristics, consider moving the data to a different local field that has the desired characteristics. This can be done by using a norm rule to change the field tag (using the ChangeField command) and, if not already present, add the subfield $9.
  • Alliance Reserved Fields. Fields 972-986 are reserved for use as Alliance-wide notes. Any use of these local note fields will be added to this table after the use is approved by the SCTS Cataloging Standing Group.
  • Institution Reserved Fields. Fields 962-971 are reserved for local institution-defined internal notes. Any Alliance library is free to define any of these fields for local use. No attempt will be made to coordinate consistent use across Alliance libraries. These local internal note fields do not publish to Primo.
  • OCLC Reserved Fields. Fields 950, 951, 956, 987, 989-999 are reserved for OCLC use per information contained in OCLC’s Bibliographic Formats and Standards and are not to be used for Alliance or local use in Alma or Primo.
  • Phrase vs. Keyword Searching. Local fields cannot be made “phrase” or “keyword” searchable in Primo, as the Primo normalization rules only control what metadata is indexed for search. They have no influence on how Primo actually searches the data in those search indexes. Phrase versus keyword functionality is controlled in Primo by the user’s search mode. When using basic search, clicking on a hyperlink executes a keyword search. When using advanced search, clicking on the hyperlink executes a phrase search.

Table – Local Fields in Alma & Primo (Overview)

Note: Fields not included in the Alliance Primo VE NR set may be added to the local Primo display via a locally-customized Display Field.

Local fieldDefinitionFormat as ifIn Alliance Primo NR set?Primo Display Field
09XLocal call number
59XLocal notes index
590-594Local institution-defined public notes500No
595Local source of acquisition541No
596Local access restrictions506YesAccess Restrictions
597Local use/reproduction terms540No
598Local standard number No
599Local institution-defined public note500No
69XLocal subjects index
690Local–Topical Term650No
691Local–Geographic Name651No
693Local uncontrolled index term653No
694Local Form/Genre655YesGenre (Local)
695Added Class Number090No
696Local Subject Added Entry–Personal Name600No
697Local Subject Added Entry–Corporate Name610No
698Local Subject Added Entry–Meeting Name611No
699Local Subject Added Entry–Uniform Title630No
9XXAlliance-defined local fields
921Alliance-defined CR_RESTRICTED field for course reserve records No
952Local Added Entry–Personal Name700YesRelated Works and Collections,
Included Works
953Local Added Entry–Corporate Name710YesRelated Works and Collections,
Included Works
954Local Added Entry–Meeting Name711YesRelated Works and Collections,
Included Works
955Local Added Entry–Uniform Title730YesRelated Works and Collections,
Included Works
957Local Hierarchical Place Name752No
958Local Added Entry–Local Journal Titles299Optional codeLocal Titles
959Local Added Entry–Varying Form of Title246Optional codeLocal Titles
960Local Added Entry–Uncontrolled Related/Analytical Title740YesRelated Works and Collections
961Local Series Added Entry–Uniform Title830Optional codeLocal Series
972Alliance-defined internal note: Local resource type (for Primo VE)No
973Alliance-defined internal note: Network-level resource type (for Primo VE)No
974Alliance-defined internal note: Retention commitment(s)No
977Alliance-defined internal note: Database A-Z browse (for Primo normalization rules)No
978Alliance-defined internal note: III .b number No
979Alliance-defined internal note: Bound-with marker (protects constituent bibs from deletion in the NZ)No
980Alliance-defined internal note: Order Information (e.g., WCP/PromptCat) No
981Alliance-defined internal note: Order Information (e.g., WCP/PromptCat) No

Nature of last update: Updated to reflect new definition for MARC 974 and migration to Primo VE.

Document History:

  • Updated on 11/14/2023 to add new field definition and make page current with Primo VE functionality.
  • Updated on 12/7/2021 to restore missing updates.
  • Updated on 12/11/2020 to add 595, 596, and 597 reserved local notes.
  • Updated on 12/6/2019 to account for 972 and 977 markers.
  • Updated on 7/30/2018 to account for 979 bound-with marker.
  • Updated on 2/7/2017 to account for 77X and 78X fields.
  • Originally approved by Technical Services Working Group on 6/21/2016
  • A first draft of the Local Fields Best Practices was presented for discussion on the Collaborative Workforce Program Blog. Minor changes were made based on received comments including clarification on the problems with Primo when using an Ex Libris customer institution code.