Content Q&A

A Content Q&A session was held during the IGeLU 2018 Conference in Prague. Ten questions related to Alma CZ, 360 KB, SFX KB, Primo Central and Summon indexes were addressed to Ex Libris Content Operations team who kindly accepted to have their answers published on the IGeLU website.

Several questions submitted by the user community were related to the MLA’s decision to remove the MLA International Bibliography records from the Primo central and Summon indexes. These questions were discussed during other sessions, notably the Discovery Product Update & Strategy session and the General Ex Libris Management Q&A, and are not listed here.

Ex Libris Content Operations team was represented by:

  • Judith Fraenkel, Content Operations VP
  • Rael Elstein, Content Product Manager
  • Rebecca Ursell, previously in Content, now Customer Success head


Question 1

In recent correspondence with customer service, we asked about whether or not their content would be shared with Ex Libris for discovery, and they gave no indication that they were in discussion with Ex Libris about adding it.

  • What is the status of adding videos to Summon? This has a status of “under review” on the Idea Exchange, as of Oct. 2017.

Answer: Currently there is no agreement with Lynda to add their content to our discovery products, so we need to wait for that before we can even start the analysis stage. At this point they have been unresponsive to our approach. We will continue to work with our legal team colleagues to push this agreement so that the content can be made available.

Question 2

We noticed that two collections linked to Springer were added in the CZ with the 20182800 CKB update (July): “SpringerLink Books – AutoHoldings” and “SpringerLink Journals – AutoHoldings”.

  • What are these collections intended for?
  • Are they associated with a promised job to get Springer holdings automatically updated?
  • If so, when will this job be available?

Answer: These collections are for the purpose of automatic activation, which we are currently working on. SpringerLink automatic activation will be available in H1 2019. This is also being addressed by Alma product team in their Q&A. Next in line is Oasis. We encourage the community to approach vendors to do this with us. In the Alma Developer Network there is an article on how to become a partner for this.

Question 3

At present, Intota deletes titles from the Knowledge Base without informing the customers who have activated those particular titles. So the customer loses the access information for these titles, maybe license or cost information that has been attached to the titles.

  • Is it possible to inform the customers in advance when a title (or a database) they have activated will be deleted? So we customers could react before our entered information disappears.

Answer: This information can be retrieved by registering for KB notifications. There is an article in the Knowledge Center that contains the information on how to register for notifications.
In addition, the team publishes articles each month that describe which titles were removed from which databases during an update process.

Question 4

Last year, Ex Libris announced they were working on an automatic activation of Primo Central Index collections when corresponding Alma CZ collections are activated.

  • What is the status of the announced integration of PCI in Alma?

Answer: It is still underway. More info will follow.

Question 5A

We have often noticed that some KB collections are not updated as expected, and this despite the fact that vendors regularly publish updated KBART files (with new titles, removed titles, and updated coverage). We always create a SF case when this happens; for some issues, the KB collection had not been updated for more than 6 months! Customers would rather expect a more automatic process for KB updates with vendors.

  • How can this happen?
  • Don’t you monitor current collections that have not been updated for a while?

Question 5B

With the 1st August CKB Update (20183100), there are 18,707 electronic collections in Alma CZ (7,633 selective packages, 1,774 aggregator packages, and 9,300 databases) which are exclusively managed by Ex Libris (collections contributed excluded). We are sometimes confused by the high number of new collections and we wonder if all of them are really necessary. Their names are moreover not always meaningful and are sources of confusion.

  • What is the logic behind all these new e-collections?
  • What are Ex Libris’ criteria to add new e-collections to the Alma CZ?
  • Don’t you think that some e-collections need rather to be consolidated (better updated) and merged?

Answer to 5A and 5B: There are automatic processes that fetch updates. there are various reasons that a collection would not be updated – provider issue, technical issue on our sides, etc.

We review this process on a weekly basis to see if there are failures, and contact the relevant providers or improve our process internally as necessary.

We always strive for improved automation, and we are always working on them, based on priority.

There are various sources of content. You will find more info in Ex Libris’ session “The Content Story – To Infinity and Beyond“.

Many new collections are from the Summon-over-Alma project, which was necessary for the successful and seamless migration of those customers.

Duplicates can be merged, but sometimes the title list is different or the granularity is different. Of course we try to avoid as much as possible. If a duplicate is located, submit a support case.

Generally, collection names are taken from the provider/vendor.

Question 6

We have recently migrated from Aleph/SFX to Alma and we have been horrified to notice that some bib records are poorer in Alma CZ than in SFX CKB. The French ABES produces hundreds of KBART files for libraries and KB providers. In KBART Phase II, ‘first_author’ field is used for monographs. We have identified electronic collections where there is no main author in the Alma CZ book record while SFX object does have an author name as provided (in the ABES KBART file).

  • How does it come that Ex Libris does not ingest KBART files in the same way for Alma CZ and SFX KB?
  • Shouldn’t customers expect to receive the minimum provided in the KBART files?

Answer: KBART are loaded with the information provided and should be identical in SFX and Alma.

There is definitely a difference in quality between SFX and Alma records since we are working on ingesting Marc records to improve the quality of Alma CZ records. This particular issue might be related to a format issue and requires further investigation. We would suggest any concerned customer to create a SF case to report any particular example.

Regarding the French ABES collections we are working closely with BACON in order to feed the MARC records into Alma thus having the most updated bibliographic information (richer than the information that is provided in the KBART). This project is already underway.

Question 7

The language information is not an element which is part of the KBART metadata. As a consequence, new records and portfolios added to the KB from a KBART file should normally have an ‘undefined’ language information. But in fact, many new KB records get an ‘eng’ (English) value even if title and content of the e-book/e-journal is obviously not in English. This is not very credible towards our patrons when inaccurate information is published to the discovery.

  • Why does Ex Libris consider record titles being in English if you don’t have the information and if it is clearly not the case?
  • Can Ex Libris and the Content WG work on an improvement on the language accuracy?

Answer: SFX does not support ‘undefined’ as language, English language information is used because it is the most spread language. An SFX NERS enhancement request should be created and voted in order to allow SFX to support ‘undefined’ language information. We will take this up with the Content WG.

Question 8

It is frustrating that we are unable to see when a 360 KB database was last updated. It would make troubleshooting access issues easier if we could tell whether a resource was last updated a week ago or three years ago. With this knowledge, customers would be able to advocate with vendors to update their content more frequently, in cases where content was not up to date.

  • Are there any plans to add a “last updated” date for entries in the 360 KB?

Answer: In general, for all of our products – including 360, our goal is to increase the visibility of the status of our collections/databases. We are in the process of working with all of the product to make this information available. More updates to come during the following months. Adding this information requires development.

That said, we are also looking into creating a form of Release Notes, which we hope will increase visibility in this area.

Question 9

Ex Libris has recently confirmed on Idea Exchange that they would add more Gale Historical Collections to Primo Central Index and to Summon.

  • Can Ex Libris confirm that content will be available for fulltext searching?

Answer: Yes, full text will be searchable!

Gale collections have been and are being added. We have been working closely with Gale to ensure that we can maintain current content from their collections. They are aware of our progress and our roadmap is coordinated with them directly. We meet with Gale on a bi-weekly basis, and they are familiar and aware of the rate of ingestion. Important to note that ingestion is a lengthy process, as Gale has unique collections.

Further, we are making this information available in the CKC under the “Content Enhancement Plans” (which have been released on Monday, starting with Summon and Alma). Added in August (already available):

  • Newspapers > 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, British Library Newspaper.
  • Others include > Nineteenth Century Collections Online, The Making of Modern Law, and The Making of the Modern World

Note that the Idea Exchange is only updated when the entire list has been completed/addressed.

In addition, we are working with Gale to coordinate the other historical collections for Summon and Primo.

Question 10

The last Alternative Coverage for Primo Central Index Collection List is from August 2017. Every month, new collections are added to PCI, sometimes some are also removed. Adding or withdrawing major collections (see the MLA International Bibliography) makes an updated list even more critical.

  • Could Ex Libris provide the community with more regular updates (at least twice a year)?

Answer: The alternative Coverage for PCI was just updates this week! We agree that this should be updated more frequently and have created a new tool to assist us in calculating the alternative coverage. We hope that this will enable us to post at least twice a year.

In addition, we are planning to publish the collection lists in 2019. This does not fully address the matter, but is definitely an important addition that will assist with being able to track the coverage.