Best Practice: Non-Serial Electronic Resources in Alma


This document provides best practices for Alliance libraries as they manage non-serial electronic resources in Alma within the context of current functionality and partial consortial migration. It attempts to strike a balance between the need for coordination at the Alliance level and local conditions that influence decisions. Best practices are represented as a decision tree to assist libraries as they decide which zone or combination of zones to use for managing nonserial electronic resources.

Best Practices

Should you use the Community Zone (CZ) to activate an electronic collection?

The CZ (also known as Alma Central Knowledge Base or CKB) offers efficiencies for managing non-serial electronic resources, especially for larger collections with frequent changes. However, CZ limitations also need to be factored in when deciding whether to use the CZ to activate an electronic collection. This document provides information about the advantages and limitations (see below), but it does not include specific guidelines for when a library should use the CZ. Instead, it recommends that libraries use the following questions as decision points as they find answers that meet their institution’s needs and policies:

  • Are you already using SFX to manage some portion of your electronic resources?
    • If so, having ExLibris migrate your existing SFX packages to Alma CZ seems to cause the least amount of disruption to access.
  • What size is the collection and how often does it change? (e.g. daily or weekly coverage changes)?
  • Is the completeness/currency of the CZ collection acceptable?
  • Is the metadata quality of the CZ bibs acceptable to your library?
    • Note: Alliance allows exceptions to the Floor Standard for CZ bibs.
  • If it isn’t, would it be manageable to individually link CZ portfolios in an electronic collection to NZ bibs using the Locate and Link function from within the CZ portfolio?
    • NOTE: For smaller collections, that could provide an alternative, but for larger collections the better option might be to create a local electronic collection and load records.

CZ Advantages

  • Maintenance efficiencies for large and frequently changing collections
    • Aggregator collections: added and deleted titles managed automatically
    • Selective collections: easy ordering and activation of new titles in active CZ collection
    • Automatic updating of URLs in portfolios if URL changes in the collection
    • Weekly list of collection updates from ExLibris that can be used to update any outside systems, like OCLC holdings and A-Z lists.

CZ Limitations

  • Metadata quality in CZ bibliographic records varies widely – records range from full bibs to brief bibs with only title and ISBN
  • CZ collections may be inconsistent with collections offered through other companies or libraries
  • There can be a delay in adding new titles to CZ collections
  • Not all collections are in the CZ

NOTE: To avoid local duplication, it is important that a library does not turn on the same titles in the same collection both in the CZ AND by using a local collection with NZ bibs and local portfolios.

If you are not going to use a CZ collection, do you create a Local Electronic Collection or catalog e-resources as standalone portfolios?

Whenever possible, portfolios should be added to Local Electronic Collections. Even eresources that are not sold as collections can be maintained more easily if they are in a Local Electronic Collection, as long as they are from the same provider, have the same license conditions, and share the same base url.

Local Electronic Collection Advantages

  • Maintenance functionality in Alma will be based on portfolios in collections and won’t be available for standalones
  • Better display in Primo and Alma, with collection names
  • Better reporting in Analytics
  • Ability to maintain settings at collection level (proxy, activation dates for trials, etc.) and push them down to all portfolios

Workflow choices

  • Create a local electronic collection
  • Electronic Collection Description tab, Internal Description field is good place to note the batch marker to be used in portfolios (see below) and other basic information for staff managing the collection. The Notes tab is a good place for more detailed information.
  • Naming local collections: Use full names and not abbreviations.
  • NOTE: In Primo the individual titles in the collection will display the Electronic Collection name, not the Interface name. The local collection record in Alma does not get published to Primo. Instead you can link a MARC bib that describes the collection as a whole in the Additional Info tab, Additional descriptive information field.

Options to add portfolios to a local collection

  • Using a set of existing portfolios: From within the collection record, Edit Service link, Portfolios tab, use Add Set button.
  • Note: An existing portfolio cannot be edited to add it to a collection. Instead, it must be put into a set in order to use the “Add Set” function.
  • Creating one portfolio at a time from within the collection record: Edit Service link, Portfolios tab, use the Add Local Portfolio button.
  • Creating a portfolio while manually cataloging the resource: Click on “Part of an electronic collection” for portfolio type, then search for the collection, and then select it. Then you can add the url and edit other fields.
  • Using an import profile: Create separate import profiles for each collection (this also allows you to schedule each loader to run automatically and pick up records). Choose Electronic Inventory and use the Part of Electronic Collection option.
  • Because of the maintenance of portfolios in packages that depend on import profiles, it is strongly recommended NOT to mix both IZ and NZ bibs in the same collection at this time (see below for records with and without OCLC control numbers).

Bibliographic records for non-serial e-resources—with OCLC control numbers

  • Bibliographic records with OCLC numbers must be loaded to the NZ with import profile settings aligned with Alliance policies.
  • Batch loading of records
    • Import Profile setting: Upon Match “Use NZ record” rather than overlay or merge for OCLC records. If no match, “Import to NZ.”
    • It is not necessary to edit OCLC records in MarcEdit or use normalization rules (for example, to make the records Provider-Neutral) because the OCLC WorldCat record should eventually replace the imported record, eliminating those edited fields.
  • Cataloging resources individually
    • Choose an OCLC rec that is already in NZ to try to comply with Provider Neutral Records Mandate (though until everyone is migrated, there may be different OCLC recs for the same ebook).
    • Delete any provider-specific fields from OCLC WorldCat record and replace it; do not add any local provider-specific fields to the record.
    • Any local fields have to go into Alma local extensions using the Alma Metadata Editor.

Bibliographic records for non-serial e-resources—without OCLC control numbers

  • Bibliographic records without OCLC numbers must be loaded to the IZ until the Alliance has central support for coordinating vendor control numbers and normalization rules necessary to load them to the NZ.
  • Using MarcEdit or Alma norm rules, you should remove any provider-specific fields.
  • Do not add any local fields, unless they are in Alma local extensions.

Batch or collection markers for individual titles in local electronic collections

  • We recommend continuing to use batch markers as a transition tool for the near future. They are useful as a search key to create Alma sets.
  • Batch markers in Alma should be put into portfolios in the Internal Description field.
  • Batch markers should be at the set or collection level, not at the file load level, to be most useful.
  • If libraries already have batch markers, it is good to migrate them (map them to local extensions if they are in bibs, or map to portfolio notes (internal description) if they are not in bibs (and if possible). Migrated batch markers could be used as a search key to create Alma sets. For instance, it is now possible to add a set of portfolios to a local collection in bulk, but you still need a reliable way to create the set.
  • Later migrated markers should be copied from the bibliographic record to the portfolio’s Internal Description field. Maintain them in portfolios only, and either ignore migrated markers or delete them if you want and are able to. Copying the markers can be done in batch in the Change Electronic Portfolio job if you have a search key (or keys) to create an Alma set.


Software: Alma

Current phase: Phase 5: Approved

Written by: SILS NSERM Task Group

Approved by: SILS NSERM Task Group on 05/14/2014

Last updated: 05/14/2014

Nature of last update: new policy