In June 2023, the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University and the William M. Rains Library at Loyola Law School will migrate their library catalogs to a new platform. Developed by ExLibris, the Alma-Primo library services platform and discovery service will provide an enhanced search experience for print and electronic resources at both libraries.
The software that runs a library’s online catalog is called an integrated library system (ILS) or, more recently, a library services platform (LSP). The ILS is the backbone that supports every aspect of library operations on both the Westchester and the Loyola Law School campuses. It provides a publicly accessible online tool for students and faculty to discover library materials, including e-books and other electronic resources; we use it to manage the physical inventory of our collections; it allows us to communicate with, loan, and borrow materials from other libraries; it serves as our patron record database through which we track check outs and returns of library material; and it functions as our acquisitions system, keeping track of orders, receipts, and payments. Moreover, the ILS allows us to track and export usage data, which we use to assess different facets of our collections and services. Every single library user, including library staff, relies on this system daily.
Both libraries currently use the same ILS: the same one we have been using for over a decade. Although we have maintained and upgraded it throughout the years, it is still based on decades-old system architecture; and so, we have decided to move to a new system.
What Does this Mean for Faculty?
Effective June 21, 2023, faculty will need to update all existing links to resources in the Hannon Library and Rains Library catalogs (e.g., linus.lmu.edu or links created in OneSearch+) with links to those same resources in the new system. This change will affect anything saved in Brightspace, syllabi, course reserves, emails, saved searches, or bookmarked resources.
Please note! We are here to support you through this change. We have developed a robust faculty outreach and communications plan that includes tutorials, checklists, information sessions, and other resources. We will share this information with you throughout the spring and leading up to the go-live date.
What Does this Mean for Students?
Returning students will also need to get used to searching in Alma-Primo. We are reworking all of our tutorial and library instruction materials to reflect the new system, and all of our librarians, staff, and student employees who assist students with their research will be ready to offer expert help in person at the Information Desk and via online chat.
The Team and Timeline
Associate Dean Jamie Hazlitt, Head of Cataloging and Systems Peter Rolla, and Systems Librarian Stephanie Gritz are leading this project. In spring 2021, they convened the ILS Replacement Steering Committee, with representatives from each department within Hannon Library and Rains Library. The ILS touches every staff member’s work and so we see it as important to have a wide range of viewpoints on the steering committee.
The steering committee’s first task was to evaluate the various ILS options and choose the best option for our libraries. Because the marketplace for systems of this type is relatively small, we quickly determined that there were only three viable options for LMU. Throughout summer and fall 2021, we scheduled online demos that all staff of both libraries were invited to attend, and by early 2022 had eliminated one of the three options.
With two viable candidate remaining, we completed an intensive evaluation of both systems, including an official RFP process, all-day in-person demos, and reference checks with peer libraries. Based on the results of this work, the steering committee recommended to the dean and director of the both libraries the adoption of Alma-Primo.
Our reasons for selecting Alma-Primo include:
- Enhanced search and discovery experience for patrons of the libraries.
- Alma-Primo is the preferred ILS for North American academic libraries, used by large consortiums of libraries, such as the University of California and California State University systems, and by our peer institutions in SCELC and the AJCU.
- A more modern system architecture than other similar ILS platforms. Alma is built on a graph database model, creating a flexible and adaptable environment for managing, manipulating and reporting on the metadata in the system. It was also built with API functionality in mind, allowing for future enhancements to the system.
- Per our reference checks, the vendor offers good customer and technical support, in addition to extensive, detailed, and freely available online documentation. There is also an active and supportive group of users to help with technical issues.
- On-boarding, consisting of an introduction to Alma-Primo as well as the initial test load of data from our current ILS
- Implementation kick-off
- Finalizing initial test load of data for the building of our test Alma-Primo environment
- Staff training: watching on-line videos and tutorials called Alma Essentials for staff to begin learning how to use the system
- Continued staff training, including training of systems administrators
- Continued staff training, including “train the trainers” advanced training for certain staff as well as workflow analysis
- Presentation of test version of Alma-Primo for the libraries to evaluate
- Preparation of materials to aid students and faculty in using the new system, including video tutorials on searching; instructions on how to change links in Brightspace; and how to move saved searches and lists (Ongoing)
- Final extraction of data from current ILS, after a work freeze in the current system
- Freezing of circulation in the current system
- Presentation of final, live version of Alma-Primo
- Go-live date is scheduled for June 21, 2023
- Assist faculty with changing links in Brightspace and other curricular needs
As noted, we will keep our students, faculty, and staff informed throughout the semester about our progress and share useful tips for making the transition as seamless as possible. If you have any questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued support of the William H. Hannon Library and the William M. Rains Library.