As I’m sure everyone knows by now, ZSR (and PCL and CCCL) are moving from Voyager to Alma next Summer! If you have not heard about this yet, please see Thomas’ insightful post into the key dates to keep in mind during your travel/vacation planning for 2020.

Alma Day was our kickoff event for our Alma migration, featuring presenters from four institutions that have completed the migration to Alma within the last two years. The presenters were selected based on their knowledge of the migration process and their involvement in key areas identified by WFU’s Alma Migration Co-Chairs, Thomas Dowling and Lauren Corbett. Our key areas of interest were: migrating and merging three libraries (University of Miami); training and support during and after migration (University of North Carolina at Charlotte); integrating Workday with Alma (Georgetown University); and the migration and configuration process from start to finish (Davidson College).

Glen Wiley, Associate Dean for Access and Discovery Services at University of Miami, presented on the challenges in merging three libraries (Law, Medical, and Main). Glen mostly focused on the data cleanup portion of their migration, noting that it was more beneficial to 1-2 people working on the cleanup and mapping of the fields and data to keep it clean and simple. They utilized Backstage reports to help with the deduplication process and merged records issues. These reports proved invaluable in identifying larger issues that could be tackled in a manageable way; it also meant that when their test load data was returned, they were unsure if it was an Alma issue, a mapping issue, or if it was indeed their data. Glen did a wonderful job starting the day, and provided some valuable insight into the process we are undertaking in merging our three libraries records. To see Glen’s slides, please click here.

Shelly Hypes, Director of Access Services at J. Murrey Atkins Library at UNCC, was up next, presenting on her experiences during the migration to Alma and Primo VE from a training and support model stand-point. Shelly honed in on the support that front-line staff in the fulfillment area needed after they went live, and the role of the Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) in the overall migration process. In Alma, Circulation is called Fulfillment, and items circulate on a location-based system; that is to say that items shelved in the same location circulate in the same, or similar ways. One of the challenges that Shelly brought to our attention was the unknown installation of Deep Freeze on all of the circulation machines, that when Alma went live lost all of their circulation records from the Offline Circulation period (Tim Mitchell assured us we will be turning our Deep Freeze OFF during this time).  Shelly provided her favorite tools and resources for navigating this time, and happily shared them with us in her slides, which you can find here.

After a quick pizza lunch, it was off to Workday we went! Vani Murthy, Department Head of Technical Services at Georgetown University Library, shared her work integrating Workday with Alma. Georgetown University was an early adopter of Workday, and when the Library settled on Alma as their new ILS, the University instructed that that they were going to use Workday no matter what. So they did. They gathered the list of required fields from their finance offices, worked with ExLibris developers, and utilized their in-house developer to write scripts that would process the invoices and POs from Alma into an acceptable format for Workday. This might seem like a lot of work on the surface, but the scripts are timed to run at a certain time every day, they deposit the files to the server, where another process retrieves the files, reprocesses them for ingest into Workday, and the finance offices load the new files and save for approval. It saves the library time and money by not rekeying all of the information into two different systems. ExLibris assures us this process is more integrated now, but it is nice to have a backup plan that we can utilize if that doesn’t work.

Lastly, Paul Go, Assistant Director of Digital Strategies, spoke on the challenges and experiences his team had during their migration. To preface this much the same way Paul did, they had an incredibly short project timeline and signed their contract and went live in less than a year. Paul spoke on the experiences shared amongst team members, but also on the experience of working with ExLibris on this compressed timeline. One of the key takeaways from Paul’s experience is that there are milestones and points in the migration process that ExLibris will hit with or without you, and you will either have to hit them at the same time, or catch up when you can. The entire staff of Davidson College library is smaller than our implementation team, which meant that people were wearing multiple hats during the process; we can spread our work out across a couple different people if it begins to feel too overwhelming, or we need input from our SME’s.

All in all, it was an informative and fun look at Alma experiences across the board (and East Coast!). If you missed Alma Day, check out the recordings here, and don’t forget to grab a water bottle at the next Library Staff Meeting!