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UPDATE: Aleph outages Jul/Aug

Margaret Stone5 June 2017

Further to the recent post on Aleph outages this summer, it has been necessary to change one of the dates.

Aleph will not be available at the following times:

  • Monday 31 July 0900 – Thursday 3 Aug 0900, although the work may finish earlier.
  • Monday 14 August 0900 – 1300 and at risk for the rest of that day.

Please see the earlier post for implications of the outages, but note that Aleph will be available on Monday 24 July after all.

Sorry for the inconvenience this will cause, as part of the UCL-wide datacentre migration project.  As ever, do bring any queries or concerns to the Digital Libraries Team, through section heads.

Aleph outages Jul/Aug 2017

Margaret Stone26 May 2017

As part of the ISD datacentre migration project, the live Aleph server will be migrated on Monday 31 July.  This means that Aleph will be unavailable for two periods:

  • Monday 24 July 0900-1300 for preparatory stages
  • Monday 31 July 0900 – Thursday 3 Aug 0900, although the work may finish earlier.

We have allowed a large window for the migration in order to complete standard checks and ensure thorough testing of all migrated functionality, allowing for any anomalies to be addressed.  The Digital Libraries Team has appreciated the work of colleagues on testing the server migrations so far, including the Aleph test server, as this work has contributed to a better understanding within the ISD project team and Ex Libris of the unique challenges of migrating these services into the new datacentre environment.

During the Aleph outage, services will be affected in the following ways.

  • Offline circulation within the Aleph client will still be available for loans and returns, but no other Aleph staff functionality
  • Self-service loans and returns will not be available.
  • Reading list pages will not display availability of items.
  • Explore will not display up to date availability information. Holdings and locations information will be available in the Details tab rather than the Locations tab.  Users will not be able to sign into Explore to access their account, place requests, book rooms or renew their items online.


  • Access to e-resources (ejournals/ebooks/databases/digital collections) will be retained.

If you have any queries about working around the outage periods, do raise them with the Digital Libraries Team via section heads, as this will help to co-ordinate any related work.  Public information will be made available nearer the time.

Future of the Library Management System

Margaret Stone14 November 2016

Aleph question markSome of you may have been wondering what has happened to the plans to replace the Aleph library management system with a more modern, innovative system.  We’re continuing to plan for this, but our funding is linked to ISD budget rounds.  We were unsuccessful in 2016/17, against a strong field of larger Professional Services projects, but will bid again in 2017/18.  We will find out the result in the summer term of 2017, with a new system planned to be in place by summer 2018 if funding is awarded.  We aim to involve colleagues from across Library Services in the procurement process but in the meantime, as ever, do send any queries or suggestions about the LMS to the Digital Libraries Team (digital-library-support at ucl.ac.uk).

Summer changes at the Newsam Library

utnvbsc1 October 2016

It’s been a hectic summer for us here in the UCL Institute of Education library. We have been transformed with lots of new improvements and services introduced. We start the new academic year with some real post-merger achievements – notably the use of one card rather than two to access the library and one computing account for students rather than two. You can imagine jusy how much easier that is making our lives. Here are some of the other highlights:

Our newly configured Welcome Point has modernised our front-of-house to make a much better impact on viewing the library from the IOE’s main foyer. Note the backlit UCL branding sign on the front panel of the desk as well as the easy identification of the library by its full name “Newsam Library and Archives” for the first time since I’ve been working here.


Removal of the issue desk has really opened up the entrance space and allowed us to reconfigure our self service machines in a cluster. The bespoke white book boxes were provided as part of the desk refurbishment project. Our staff have done fantastically well to adapt to the new service model and it all seems to be working very well.


We also introduced self-service reservations based upon the model in use at other UCL library sites.


As well as only having one computing account to contend with, we have been able to ditch our old troublesome photocopiers which were end of life and have introduced multi-function devices (MFDs). The students seem to have taken to these like a duck to water.


Yet another major project over the summer was the migration from SirsiDynix Symphony to the Aleph system. This also allowed us to embed our catalogue and resources within Explore and means that we can now search across all the UCL libraries – a great one stop shop for our students. Below is a picture of some of the Explore machines which replaced our ageing and sluggish Mac OPACs.


Last but not least, we are almost there with laptop loans. The hardware is installed and in a week or two we should be ready to go. It is already drawing comments from people who are wondering what it is. When you explain, you can see how impressed users are.



I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in these projects across UCL Library service. If you are passing, do drop in and see the changes for yourself.

**Revised dates** Forthcoming Aleph outage, 11th – 13th April

Nayna Patel15 March 2016


The Digital Libraries Team will be undertaking a large AUP headings project which unfortunately cannot be completed without an Aleph outage this has been scheduled for 11th-13th April.

The reason for this piece of work is as follows:

The names and subjects in UCL’s catalogue are kept consistent and unambiguous by using forms of names maintained by the Library of Congress and National Library of Medicine, e.g.:

  • All Shakespeare’s works are findable under “Shakespeare, William,1564-1616.”
  • Books about the honey bee or Apis mellifera can be found under “Honeybee.”

Most academic libraries in the UK and US – including RLUK and OCLC members- use the same standards of authority control. We receive data for new names and subjects from a supplier, but we need to upgrade this to cope when names and subject terminology change. This is important for Explore searching, sharing our records with partners, and re-using our data in the future.

In practice, this will mean that there will be no Aleph at all between 11th – 13th April including self-service workstations, issue desk clients however book loans and returns will be possible via offline circulation

 More details on using offline circulation are available on LibNet

 The ‘AUP’ project is complex, also involving our ISD, the Digital Libraries team and various other members of Public and Support Services staff. This has meant a lot of negotiation in terms of people’s time and availability.

We hope the confirmed dates don’t cause too much inconvenience either for colleagues or of course for our users. We’ll ensure that the outage is publicised widely between now and the start of the April transition window.

Here’s a summary of how the Aleph outage will affect our services:

  • Circulation services e.g. book loans and returns only possible via offline circulation
  • Self-service: not available
  • No items will be due between 11th – 13th April
  • Membership: No registration of new members or renewals of accounts for existing members will be possible
  • Explore: No My Account sign-in, no renewals or reservation requests, no live item availability information (locations will be available in the Details tab otherwise Copac has holdings and locations information as per the most recent record upload)
  • Primo Central: some resources that are included in Primo Central require authentication for searching off-site these will inaccessible
  • Interlibrary loans: not available
  • Room bookings: not available
  • Change PIN: not available
  • All non-Aleph aspects of the Explore service such as e-resource and Digital Collections record searching and retrieval should not be affected but should be considered at risk

We hope to restore a full service by Thursday 14th April. However, systems should be considered at risk for part of the day.