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Keyboard shortcuts in Alma

There are a lot of good features of Alma, our new library services platform going live in August 2020. However, one feature that is often cited as needing improvement is its UI, which relies heavily on mouse maneuvering and button clicking. To combat hand and wrist fatigue, consider using keyboard shortcuts!

General Alma Shortcuts

Code Description
Shift + F2 Go to homepage
Alt + W Go to fulfillment checkout
Alt + R Go to fulfillment discharge
Alt + P Go to fulfillment task List
Alt + Ctrl + S Go to scan in interface
Alt + Ctrl + U Immediate job
/ Persistence search
Alt + Ctrl + F Search in menu
Esc Close search in menu
Alt + number Tab navigation
Alt + \ Pagination find
Alt + ] Pagination last
Alt + [ Pagination first
Alt + < Pagination prev
Alt + > Pagination next
Alt + B Back button
Alt + N Next button
Alt + E Edit button
Alt + S Save button
Alt + C Cancel button
Alt + X Clear button

This list is available in your user profile, where you can also choose to deactivate specific hot keys (if, for example, they interfere with your other browser or OS shortcuts):

Screenshot
User icon > UI preferences > Shortcuts customization

Alma Metadata Editor Shortcuts

Many of the keyboard shortcuts available in Aleph are also available in the Alma Metadata Editor:

General Navigation
Code Description
Alt + Next page
Alt + Previous page
/ Moves the cursor up/down field by field in a record
/ Moves the cursor to the right/left across the field, subfield, indicator, and content information
File Menu Alt + F
Code Description
Alt + N New
Ctrl + Alt + S Save draft
Ctrl + S Save record
Ctrl + Alt + R Save and release record
Ctrl + Shift + R Release record
Ctrl + D Delete record
Ctrl + Q Exit (without saving any changes)
Edit Menu Alt + E
Code Description
F8 Add field
Ctrl + F6 Remove selected field row
F9 Add sub-field
Ctrl + Alt + E Enhance record
Ctrl + E Expand from template
F4 Generate author number
F6 Split editor
F7 Full screen
Ctrl + F Open form editor
Esc Close form editor
Ctrl + X Cut
Ctrl + C Copy
Ctrl + V Paste
F3 Link to suggested authority record
Tools Menu Alt + T
Code Description
Ctrl + Alt + H Add holdings record
Alt + O Add local portfolio (electronic resource)
Ctrl + Alt + O Create PO Line and exit
Ctrl + M Find matches to a bib record
Ctrl + I View inventory on a bib record
Ctrl + Alt + H Add another holding to bib record
Alt + I Add item
Ctrl + Alt + B From holding, view bib record
Alt + U Update from bib record

Please consult the Ex Libris Knowledge Center for up-to-date MDE menu and toolbar options.


Alma Patron Services Shortcuts

Patron Services
Code Description
Alt + 1 Opens the Loans tab
Alt + 2 Opens the Returns tab
Alt + 3 Opens the Requests tab
Ctrl + Alt + D Same as clicking Done; returns to the Patron Identification page to enable searching for another patron (see Selecting a Patron)
Manage Item Returns
Code Description
Ctrl + Alt + R Return patron items
Alt + Ctrl + L Opens the patron identification page (see Selecting a Patron)
Alt + Ctrl + C Clears the list of returned items
Alt + Shift + X Returns to the Alma homepage

Please visit the Ex Libris Knowledge Center for more information on patron services-related operations.

Advance planning for printing

Advance planning for a technical solution is the type of issue that seems worth bringing to your attention. This one applies to a library’s future purchases of printers. It may be prudent to consider only buying printers with full network connection capabilities. This allows them to be email aware, meaning that they can receive and print email messaging.

We know that in the future we will replace Aleph with something that is going to be a next-generation cloud-based system. We can predict that it will be a hosted SaaS (Software as a Service) environment, sometimes referred to as a ‘Library Service Platform’ (LSP).

Due to security concerns and technical limitations, cloud-based environments do not support direct connection of local or network printers. Instead, print jobs are sent by email to the printer for processing. (Documentation for Alma, as shown in just one example, can be found on the Ex Libris Knowledge Center.)

This may change in some future Alma enhancement, but for now one should plan for what we known to be already developed. For printing labels and circulation transfer slips, it is wiser to plan on using email aware printers.

An inexpensive network printer (aka not email aware) can continue to be productive without using Aleph or its replacement. Consider carefully whether you would really have a use for printers in some way. For example, the desktop Connexion application—used by many CUNY libraries—allows staff to batch print labels directly to a networked (or directly connected) printer.

Also, some Alma libraries are not be concerned about directly printing transfer slips and patron loan receipts. Instead, they route these emails to a dedicated staff email address, and then selectively print out (on their local network) the emails as needed.

It is up to each library to decide how this applies to their future equipment purchasing plans. It is important that the options be considered and factored into any plan being made.

If you have further questions, please contact the CUNY Office of Library Services.

Print to Electronic record conversion for the new Library Service Platform

Moving away from Aleph to a Library Services Platform requires preparation BEFORE data migration. One important pre-migration goal is to separate print items and electronic items out at the title level.

Aleph, like many legacy ILS systems, handles electronic and print records using the same data structures. We have bibliographic, holdings and print records.

In a Library Services Platform, electronic records are handled in a very different way. The data structures are different, as they look to manage these records in a more sophisticated way. For example, the link resolver is taken into account. This requires that the current record structures must be transformed at the time of migration.

There are a number of titles in CUNY’s Aleph catalog which have both print and electronic items on the same bibliographic record. In some cases physical items are incorrectly identified as electronic records. At least some electronic records incorrectly identified as physical print items. There are also physical print items where the library also has access to full electronic text.

As part of your preparation, we are looking to separate print items from electronic items at the Bibliographic level. One of the main reasons is that we need to migrate there records in a very different way. This impacts more than the catalog records. Some titles have serial subscriptions. Both serials patterns as well as acquisitions orders are impacted.

As we look to other libraries that have successfully migrated we find a repeated recommendation. Separate your print items from electronic items before migration. It absolutely requires a great deal more manual work to sort out and rebuild your catalog records if a library does not. For example, under certain conditions electronic items can show up “as if” they are physical items, which is a problem.

A second reason is that print and electronic records can have separate OCLC numbers. OCLC numbers become increasingly important in an LSP environment as the primary match point. This will facilitate functionality such as replicating the CLICS borrowing that we currently enjoy.

There are a variety of problems that arise by not separating these records. This goes beyond not following modern RDA standards. In presentation after presentation libraries keep pointing out the need to get this done. Let’s please learn from their history and not repeat their mistakes.

We will be talking more about this during the coming year in the Cataloging and Acquisitions Committee meetings. (Both areas will be impacted, in their own ways.)

CUNY’s migration to a Library Services Platform

CUNY’s migration to a Library Services Platform (“LSP”) will provide unified services across the library. It will be a long journey, and we will be building up information for our roadmap as we reach different milestones.

To follow the journey, please consult the OLS Support Site: https://ols-support.cuny.edu/?q=systems/lsp

Is the catalog going away?

Note: For definitions of technical terms used throughout this post, please refer to the Glossary at the bottom of this entry.

The Office of Library Services (“OLS”) has taken the CUNY Libraries through the initial migration of library data from disparate and no systems into NOTIS (late 1980s/early 1990s) and then into Aleph circa 2002. It’s fifteen years later and we are looking to migrate again, this time to an LSP.

If you work in technical or access services, you’re used to the ILS being “the catalog” you use to perform your daily activities. You use Aleph to place orders, pay bills, catalog new acquisitions, check in serials, manage patrons, and keep track of all of the items going into and out of your library. You’re also aware that Aleph is a Windows application that needs to be installed on your workstation. You may have experienced the cumbersome and labor-intensive process of upgrading the system from one version to the next. When we migrate to an LSP, you will continue to have access to all of the tools you need to do your job: you will place orders, pay bills, catalog new acquisitions, check in serials, manage patrons, and keep track of all of the items going into and out of your library. However, the system you use to do all of these things will be different: LSPs are necessarily cloud-based so they can be accessed from any browser on any computer; updates are released on a regular basis and are done quietly in the background; to-do lists and workflows are built into the system; management of e-resources is baked right into the product and is not an afterthought. Generally speaking, an LSP is a system built for the modern library and is meant to make your daily work activities easier.

If you work in public services (i.e., reference or instruction), you’re used to the OPAC being “the catalog” you use to search the library’s holdings. However, LSPs do not come packaged with OPACs. Instead, they rely on integration with a discovery system to provide a public web interface. Therefore, when we finally migrate to an LSP, the OPAC as we know it will be gone. That is, the public-facing interface to Aleph that we have been using for 15 years will be deprecated and, in its stead, we will rely entirely on a discovery system to search our library collections. Luckily, we have been live with CUNY OneSearch since the Fall 2014 semester so we have a lot of experience with a discovery system! OneSearch is the catalog of our physical library collections across the University as well as local electronic and digital collections. Our patrons use OneSearch to find their textbooks, identify peer-reviewed articles for their research papers, conduct research across multiple disciplines when doing a literature review, and more.

Card catalog card reads: The catalog is dead. Long live the catalog!So, yes, in a sense, the catalog is going away—really, though, it’s metamorphosing. We will choose a new LSP that will allow us to more easily conduct all essential library activities traditionally carried out by an ILS. Our bibliographic, holding, and items records will retain a familiar form, our invoices will be maintained, our orders will still be tracked, and our patrons will continue to be managed. The OPAC, on the other hand, is certainly going away. However, we will continue to discover our library collections through OneSearch so we will continue to have a public-facing web interface for our library collections.


Glossary

Integrated Library System (ILS)
An enterprise suite of software applications for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed. CUNY uses Ex Libris’s Aleph software and frequently refers to it as “Aleph,” “Aleph GUI,” and “Aleph client.” Aleph consists of several modules: cataloging, acquisitions, serials, circulation, and OPAC.
Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC)
A public-facing web interface for a library’s catalog, used by the public to search the database of materials held by a library or group of libraries. CUNY uses the OPAC module of Ex Libris’s Aleph and brands it as “CUNY Catalog” (formerly “CUNY+” or “CUNY Plus”).
Library Services Platform (LSP)
A cloud-based library system that integrates the acquisition and management of electronic and print resources into a common platform, data stores, and task workflows.
Discovery system
A public-facing web interface used by the public to find materials in library collections and gain access to items of interest through the appropriate delivery mechanisms. Discovery products are independent from the specific applications that libraries implement to manage resources, such as integrated library systems, library services platforms, repository platforms, or electronic resource management systems. They use more sophisticated search technologies, including relevancy ranking and faceted search. CUNY uses Ex Libris’s Primo software and brands it as “CUNY OneSearch.”

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