Life After Migration:  Making Alma and Primo work for Everyone

February 7, 2020 (10:00am – 3:30pm EST)

Migrations to new Library Services Platforms can be challenging, but they also provide opportunities for improvement.  In July of 2019, SUNY Libraries went live with Alma and Primo.  The 2020 SUNYLA Midwinter Virtual Conference, Life After Migration: Making Alma and Primo work for Everyone, is an opportunity to learn from the trials, tribulations, and successes of those who have migrated to Alma and Primo.  Our presenters, representing a variety of public and private institutions from across the country, will focus on the ways that libraries have changed their library instruction, their in-house workflows, and their discovery interface to better suit their patrons after going live with ALMA and Primo.  Come share your experiences and join your library colleagues at the SUNYLA Midwinter Virtual Conference on February 7, 2020 (10:00am – 3:30pm EST).

Technology requirements for attendance:  Computer, internet connection, microphone/speakers (headset recommended) or telephone.  Zoom will be used for this conference and is free for use by attendees.  

You do not need to be a SUNYLA member in order to attend this free conference.  

SUNYLA’s Midwinter Virtual Conference Committee:
Jennifer DeVito, Stony Brook University
Bill Jones, SUNY Geneseo
Jill Locascio, SUNY Optometry (chair)
Carrie Marten, SUNY Purchase
Jessica McGivney, SUNY Farmingdale
Jennifer Parker, SUNY Cortland


10:00 A.M. – 10:30 A.M.

Session 1:  Organizing Chaos: Training for a Library Service Platform Migration, by Jennifer Koerber (SUNY Shared Library Services)

When a library system moves to a new service platform, the whole staff needs to be trained at the same time, and while the implementation team is still learning and getting ready for migration. How do you give everyone what they need to start work on Day 1 with minimal interruptions to productivity? Using examples from consortia, multi-library single institutions, and single/few-library institutions – in particular SUNY and Harvard University Library – the presenter will examine a variety of approaches and tools that can spread the training net wide.

Session 1 Slides
Session 1 Slides (with notes)

10:30 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.

Session 2:  Teaching Primo to Every Student: Incorporating Primo Instruction into an Online Information Literacy Course, by Kris Stacy-Bates, Erin Thomas, and Cara Stone (Iowa State University Library)

The Iowa State University Library has been teaching students to use Primo since 2011, both through course-related instruction and as part of a one-credit information literacy course required for all undergraduate students. The readings for this seven-week, primarily online course mention Primo throughout and focus on it for a key chapter on “Finding Library Materials.” Our assessment methods require students to do live searches and consider the results. We’ll discuss course highlights, including changes we made both to improve student outcomes and to respond to Primo developments. Participants are encouraged to read our course textbook, “Library 160: Information Literacy,” at

Session 2 Slides

11:00 A.M. – 11:10 A.M.

Break (10 minutes)

11:10 A.M. – 11:40 A.M.

Session 3:  A New Discovery – Marketing Primo to Faculty and Students, by Rocco Cremonese (Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania)

Slippery Rock University migrated to ALMA/Primo in Spring 2017. This new experience presented numerous technical, education, and outreach challenges, as in addition to the migration Primo represented Slippery Rock’s first foray into Discovery Search. This presentation will share details on how we branded and marketed Primo, what worked, what didn’t work, and will share various materials we utilized including flyers, LibGuides, and instructional documents tailored for faculty and students.

Session 3 Slides

11:40 A.M. – 12:10 P.M.

Session 4: Enabling Better Feedback to Make Primo Work for You, by Christopher Gross (George Washington University)

We improved user services, staff workflows, and quickly uncovered configuration improvements by making a visually prominent link in Primo VE for users to submit their problems and complaints. As our go live date approached it became clear that we needed a unified way for users to easily report any issues that they encountered. To address this we added a link in every available place within the Primo VE interface that led users to a form where they could provide feedback or report issues. In our previous system, there were a number of uncoordinated options where users could report issues. At go-live we streamlined those multiple places into one stream, thus improving the user experience and not requiring users to know who could best answer their question. An added bonus of merging these options meant that we could more easily identify patterns that illuminated issues and allowed us to more quickly find opportunities for improvements.

Session 4 Slides

12:10 P.M. – 1:00 P.M.


1:00 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.

Session 5: Configuring Local Facets and Resource Types in Primo VE, by Katie Gohn and Andrea Schurr (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga)

Formats within the Primo Central Index are all over the place and non-standardized. Furthermore, electronic and physical formats were merged together and appeared under a single facet. For example, physical books and electronic books appeared under a single facet of books. This made discovering items that were “in the Library” challenging for our users, and they quickly asked if we could update the facets so that electronic and physical items were differentiated. We quickly discovered that we could map local fields within MARC records to custom local facets in Primo VE to resolve this problem. Thus, we were able to create several new facets for our physical collection (books, videos, audio, music scores, and journals). This presentation will walk you through the basics of mapping the local fields, creating the local facets, and creating normalization rules so that new records added to Alma are mapped to appropriate facets.

Session 5 Slides

1:30 P.M. – 2:00 P.M.

Session 6: Customizations in Primo VE, by Kaci Resau (Washington & Lee University)

Washington & Lee University migrated to Alma/Primo VE in January 2018. After migration, we focused largely on cleanup within Alma. It was not until March of 2019 that we began customizing our Primo interface in order to improve the user experience. To begin the process of customization we conducted small-scale usability testing with students, and conducted a peer to peer Primo VE discovery layer comparison. This presentation will focus on some of the changes that we made to our discovery layer including: enhancements to faceted navigation, the brief and full record, and proposed changes that we have in the works for 2020.

Session 6 Slides

2:00 P.M. – 2:10 P.M.

Break (10 minutes)

2:10 P.M. – 2:40 P.M.

Session 7:  Working Towards a User Management “Revolution” in Alma, by Chris Martin (Loyola University Chicago)

When preparing to migrate to Alma, purging user records is a very useful way to help clean up data. This presentation will detail how purging should be a regular systems process after migrating to Alma, and that the focus of purging should be on both consistent data cleanup and privacy protection. Discussion in the presentation will include reasons for purging user records, questions and documentation to consider before beginning a purging project, and practical examples of purging at Loyola University Chicago.

Session 7 Slides

2:40 P.M. – 3:10 P.M.

Session 8:  Tired of Migration? Time for some REST … APIs, by Alexa Torchynowycz (Davidson College)

This presentation focuses on 3 applications that use the Alma BIBs API to change data in bibliographic, holding, and item records: Alma Enumerator, Change Call Number, and Grima. All of these applications and scripts are freely available and can be used in a variety of ways. I will show examples of how Davidson College used the applications to clean up metadata post-migration in the holding and item records.

Session 8 Slides

3:10 P.M.