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Explore Upgrade: 8th March Go-Live and Exam Papers

Bethan Smith3 March 2022

Following on from our previous blogpost regarding the first phase of the Explore upgrade, and the launch of our staff SharePoint, we would like to remind staff that the upgrade to Explore will be happening next week on Tuesday 8th March. We have recently been updating our customers with social media, OneLan messaging and other communications, and will continue to advertise the upgrade in the run up to launch.

In today’s blogpost, we would also like to provide some clarification on how exam papers and will be accessed post go-live, as we know that our customers (and colleagues!) will be particularly interested in ensuring that access to this feature is uninterrupted by the changes.

8th March go-live

As a reminder, we will be going live with the upgrade to the new version of Primo on Tuesday 8th March. This will encompass the upgrade to the way we view digital collections, as well as the Explore interface update.  You can find out more about these elements on their respective pages on the staff SharePoint 

Please note that online payments will be released at a later date, with more information on the timeline for implementing this feature to be provided soon.  

Exam papers

Once the upgrade is live, Explore will become the default method for accessing exam papers.  To search for exam papers in the new version of Explore, users can type in the relevant search term, using the exam papers search scope to filter results as shown below: 

Alternatively, customers can browse through the UCL Exam Papers collection, and its associated sub collections, via Digital Collections:

Although the upgrade will mean that exam papers are more easily discoverable, we appreciate that it may take some time for our customers to get used to this new way of finding information. We have therefore made the decision to retain a link from our web pages to exam papers in DigiTool for a time, though we will retire this feature after the current exam period. 

Differences between classic Primo and Primo VE

As a reminder, for colleagues who support Explore users as part of their role, there is a dedicated page on the SharePoint which lists the differences between the classic and updated version of Primo, as well as ongoing technical fixes. This page will be updated regularly over the next few days and weeks. 

If you have any questions about the upgrade project, or are unable to access the SharePoint site, please contact Bethan Smith 

For more general queries regarding Explore, please contact the appropriate Explore functional lead.  

Explore Upgrade 2022 – Information for Library Services staff

Bethan Smith3 February 2022

In the coming weeks, we will be upgrading Explore by implementing a number of new features to enhance the customer experience of using the platform. A SharePoint site has been created to update staff on the progress and key information regarding this project.

The upgrade will focus on three main areas of development: the migration of our online digital collections and exam papers from Digitool to Alma and Explore, the Explore interface update, and the introduction of online payments of library fines and fees.  

Upgrading these applications will mean that we are supported technically by Ex Libris, and that any future system upgrades or enhancements are enabled. These upgrades will facilitate improved searching and browsing of our digital collections, dynamic updates to catalogue records in Explore, and the ability to pay fines and fees online. 

These features will be released in two stages, with the explore interface update and changes to digital collections going live in early March 2022; we are currently aiming for an 8th March release date. Online payments will be added at a later date, following on from testing. We will communicate the go-live date of online payments closer to the time.   

In the next few weeks, we will be releasing communications and training in order to keep colleagues and customers informed. This will include any required actions our customers need to take, such as the need to save their searches. Customers will be informed of the upgrade through social media, newsletters, QR codes, and a webpage on the library website, as well as via messaging in Explore itself. 

 

Please keep an eye out for further communication related to the project. In the meantime, colleagues can find out more about the upgrades in the new project Sharepoint for Library Services staff, which contains information regarding each separate strand.  

 

The SharePoint is accessible now and will also be signposted on LibNet. It will be a central point for training, contain useful FAQs, and a list of previous communications. We would encourage you to check the SharePoint periodically to find out information about the project as it emerges

If you have any questions about the project, or are unable to access the SharePoint site, please contact Bethan Smith.

We would also like to take the opportunity to remind you of the Functional Lead structure. If you have any queries about Explore in general, please use the self-service form to find out how to contact an Explore Functional Lead.

Alma update and Digital Services support

Margaret Stone15 October 2020

This month there are two important updates from the Digital Services team.

Alma’s new layout

From 1 November 2020, you will see a new screen layout when you log in to Alma.  The aims, according to the suppliers, are to increase the working area in Alma, improve navigation, give more options to customize menus, and facilitate improved user workflows.

Please note that this is not the same as the planned changes to the Alma metadata editor, which will be coming next year.

If you would like to try out the new interface and get used to it before 1 November, you can switch it on in the user menu of Alma.  Go to your personal user menu (head and shoulders icon) in the top right of the Alma screen and click to open the drop-down menu.  Then click on “Enable new layout”.

More information is available on the Alma pages of the Ex Libris Knowledge Center or from this short Alma New Layout video.

Digital Services support update

Some 18 months after introducing the new ISD support team for many of our applications, we are retiring the digital-library-support email address.  In its place, we are re-emphasising the first-line support role of ‘Functional Leads’ for Alma and other services.  Beyond that, there is now a single support form which guides you to the correct support route for each service.  For more information, and to bookmark the link to the support form, visit our Digital Services Support pages on LibNet.

The reason for these changes is to make the support process more efficient and to ensure that library staff get the quickest response from the relevant support team.  For example, the new support form prompts the enquirer to indicate to which service the query relates.

For many digital services, such as Alma, there are designated Functional Leads in Library Services who are the experts and coordinators for the digital service. For these services, please first contact the relevant Functional Lead with your query or problem report. They can assist with resolving some issues directly, collating multiple reports and leading the liaison with ISD as necessary. For Alma, the Functional Leads are responsible for granting and updating access rights to Alma.  For this new process, please see the updated FAQ on the Alma page on LibNet.

The next tier of support is provided by the Library Applications Team in ISD. This is a dedicated team for our digital services, who can also bring in assistance from other support teams in ISD as necessary. When a support ticket is opened from the problem report form, either by the Functional Lead or by you directly, the Library Applications Team will respond to the ticket.  Please only contact the team through the support form or through the tickets which are generated.  You may occasionally come across their team email address, but it is only used for internal communications, not for raising new queries or issues.

Progress on problem reports and requests for service changes is monitored by Rob Drinkall and Margaret Stone on behalf of Library Services. This liaison includes escalating urgent matters and clarifying the priority of ongoing work.  Please do contact us if you have any queries about these support arrangements.

Reminder: Visit the new problem report form.

Alma – update on running reports

Margaret Stone16 October 2018

As Alma continues to bed in, I wanted to provide an update on the plans for extracting information using reports.

Firstly, under the terms of our contract, we will only retain access to Aleph and its reporting centre, ARC, until three months after the Alma go-live date.  If you are using ARC, please therefore run any reports that you may need by the end of November and save the results outside ARC.

Secondly, some of the information used for collection management, specifically last loan date and total number of loans, has been migrated to Alma, so you will be able to report on this information indefinitely and the end of November deadline does not apply.

Thirdly, we will shortly be reviewing your reporting requirements from Alma and providing information about access to the Analytics module.  To that end, please could you notify digital-library-support of any reports you expect to need from Alma, and we will incorporate that in our planning.

Thank you for your ongoing feedback and patience as issues are resolved.

Alma and related changes – update

Margaret Stone3 September 2018

Further to the earlier email to library staff, here are the updated dates for the changes to Alma and related services.

Changes to loan periods and loan allowances

These will be communicated on the existing public web pages by Monday 10 September.  Details are available in the LibNet Alma FAQ.  Please check in particular those FAQ marked NEW or UPDATED.

Service outages between 5-10 September (e.g. no self service, no laptop loans, no access to MyAccount).

An updated news item has been published on the library website.  It is expected that Alma will go live by midday on 10 September.

Move to new Explore interface

New mobile-friendly interface, pointing to Alma, will go live on 10 September.  A news item about the new Explore interface was published on 24 August.

Change to databases page

The databases interface will contain the same information but be provided by LibGuides rather than MetaLib.  Scheduled for switchover on 10 September.  No change to existing URLs.  Public information on MetaLib replacement is available.

Move from SFX to Explore services

SFX links from third-party databases are being updated with links to an integrated Explore service.  SFX links will continue to work for a few months, to provide continuity.  Described in the news item about Explore from 24 August.

Changes to Explore login, including new passwords for non-UCL library members

Login to the new Explore interface will change from 10 September.  Details are available in the LibNet Alma FAQ.

Changes to library accounts for UCL members with multiple UCL statuses

Alma will merge library accounts into one, for UCL members who have multiple statuses, e.g. are both staff and student.  Users will receive the highest privilege level, and will be able to use any of their UCL identities to access their single account (userid for Explore and barcode for self-service).  If any issues arise, please refer the user to the library Membership team in the first instance.

Changes to study space bookings pages

The current study space booking system, which is based on Aleph, was closed down on Friday 31 August.  We are working with ISD on the replacement system, but unfortunately it is not available.  In the interim, study spaces will be available as first-come, first-served, and the existing web address will show the information about study spaces without any booking links.

Digital library service changes for library users

Margaret Stone28 August 2018

Alongside the Alma project, there are some imminent changes which affect library users, which I’d like to summarise here.  Communications through our web interfaces have begun and will continue over the next few weeks.  If you have any queries, please contact the Digital Libraries Team on their usual address.

Changes to loan periods and loan allowances

These will be communicated on the existing public web pages on Monday 3 September.  Details are available in the LibNet Alma FAQ.  Please check in particular those FAQ marked NEW or UPDATED.

Service outages on 3 and 4 September (e.g. no self service, no laptop loans, no access to MyAccount).

A news item will be published on the library website in the week commencing 27 August.

Move to new Explore interface

New mobile-friendly interface, pointing to Alma, will go live on 5 September.  A news item about the new Explore interface was published on 24 August.

Change to databases page

The databases interface will contain the same information but be provided by LibGuides rather than MetaLib.  Scheduled for switchover on 3 September.  No change to existing URLs.  Public information on MetaLib replacement is available.

Move from SFX to Explore services

SFX links from third-party databases are being updated with links to an integrated Explore service.  SFX links will continue to work for a few months, to provide continuity.  Described in the news item about Explore from 24 August.

Changes to Explore login, including new passwords for non-UCL library members

Login to the new Explore interface will change from 5 September.  Details are available in the LibNet Alma FAQ.

Changes to library accounts for UCL members with multiple UCL statuses

Alma will merge library accounts into one, for UCL members who have multiple statuses, e.g. are both staff and student.  Users will receive the highest privilege level, and will be able to use any of their UCL identities to access their single account (userid for Explore and barcode for self-service).  If any issues arise, please refer the user to the library Membership team in the first instance.

Changes to study space bookings pages

The current study space booking system, which is based on Aleph, will be closed down on Friday 31 August.  We are working with ISD on the replacement system, but there is a chance it may not be fully functional from 3 September.  In that case, study spaces will be available as first-come, first-served, and the existing web address will show the information about study spaces without any booking links.

Alma project update – Training

Margaret Stone27 July 2018

Alma testing and preparations have been continuing throughout July.  An Alma information page has now been published on LibNet and this will be enhanced and kept up to date between now and go-live, including further information on the implications for our library users.

Training on the new system is being planned for August and you will soon receive your invitation to training.

Training sessions will include show and tell of the new system and hands-on practice.

To complement the classroom training session in each area, Alma step-by-step user guides are being developed for each functional area.  These will be shared on time for training and stored on LibNet for ease of access.

We appreciate this is a peak annual leave period and will we do our utmost to cater for people’s availability.

If you have any questions, please feel free to raise them with the project team: isd.lmsproject@ucl.ac.uk

Alma project update – June

Margaret Stone27 June 2018

The Alma project team is pleased to share their latest update:

While the world is busy watching international football teams competing in the world cup, somewhere in UCL our own Alma midfielders have been playing ball in a game of testing and configuration.

And just like in a top league game, after the official kick off, there may be sweat, challenges and a long second half before we can hit our goal.

Over May and June, the project team conducted a series of drop in sessions to give staff the opportunity to get an overview of the project and schedule for the remaining months as well as raising any questions they may have.

We would like to thank everyone who came to meet us. We have collated the questions in an FAQ document which we will be sharing through LibNet very soon.

To make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone we are currently engaging with managers to plan the training on Alma across all sites and to communicate about the support channels available. You will receive separate communications via emails about the training plan and schedule within your team.

Keep calm and carry on

Undoubtedly replacing Aleph for Alma is one of the biggest changes that Library Services will go through in a long time and it will bring challenges.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • The system will not be perfect from go live: we could still discover bugs after go live and fixes will need to be developed
  • Being trained on the new system and using the system on a daily basis are two different things. The pupil will soon become the master!
  • We all learn at a different pace; mutual assistance, knowledge sharing and patience are key.

Well spotted!

We have asked our colleagues to share their favourite thing about Alma:

“Because Alma is cloud based (online) you can make the page and font bigger or smaller”

“We used to complete one of our tasks in Aleph going through 15 steps, in Alma the same task can now be completed in just 10 steps!”

“I can use multiple browser tabs to keep multiple Alma pages open at the same time.  In Aleph you had to exit a page each time before switching to a new one”

Alma project update sessions

Margaret Stone21 May 2018

A series of ‘drop-in’ sessions will be held over the next few weeks to give Library staff the opportunity to come and meet the project team and raise any question they may have.  These sessions will focus on an overview of the project, the schedule for the remaining months, and an opportunity to register queries.  They won’t cover detailed functional matters, but please feel free to raise any question and if an answer cannot be given at the time, we will follow up with you afterwards.

Each session will last 30 minutes and then be repeated.

The first sessions have been arranged at the below locations and are open to anyone.

  • Wednesday 23 May – School of Pharmacy 1400-1430 and 1430-1500 (room B37)
  • Tuesday 5 June – Science Library 1000-1030 and 1030-1100 (room 417)
  • Wednesday 13 June – Science Library 1300-1330 and 1330-1400 (room 417)

Feel free to contact the project team at any time via the project inbox: isd.lmsproject@ucl.ac.uk

Project update

Spring has sprung, birds have returned and the Alma project team have gone through a migration of their own.

We are pleased to announce that the test data migration from Aleph to Alma has been completed.  The Digital Libraries team and the functional leads have entered a phase of testing and configuration of the new environment.

In parallel, training material demonstrating the new workflows and using the new terminology will be created, and staff training is being planned.

Training sessions for each functional area will be coordinated in collaboration with the project team and team managers.  Separate communications will be issued soon with more details.

Thank you again for your support and participation.

 

Alma project: building the new library management system

Margaret Stone19 April 2018

Click on this demo screenshot from Alma to view it at full size.

The project to implement Alma is now well underway and on schedule for launch by the end of August 2018.  The project team from Library Services (Digital Libraries Team members plus a lead person in each functional area) is in place, supported by ISD project staff and the project board chaired by Martin Moyle.  They have together been preparing the Aleph and SFX data for migration, receiving core training on the new system, and considering how Alma will be set up.  Alma is a new generation library management system which streamlines processes across different types of library resource and offers a modern, web-based interface for library staff.  Many core functions meanwhile will remain familiar from working with Aleph.

The leads for each functional area are:

Jason Hobart – Customer service
Mike Jones – E-resources
Phil Leonard – Inter-library loans and stores delivery
Bill Martin – Acquisitions
Thomas Meehan – Cataloguing and metadata
Matthew Reynolds – Welcome services

As part of the project, we need to ensure that Alma delivers all the intended benefits and supports library staff in delivering excellent customer service.  Many of you are already contributing to shaping Alma and we will continue to seek your input and help you get ready for the transition.  The training programme is now being devised, working with team leaders across the library sites to ensure the most suitable content, format and schedule for the needs of different sections.

Project communications will become more frequent and more detailed in the coming months.  We will be releasing regular progress updates, but please do contact the project team through the dedicated mailbox, isd.lmsproject@ucl.ac.uk, at any time with queries, suggestions or feedback.

In terms of direct impact on our library users, this will primarily be felt through changes in Explore and SFX.  Explore will continue to be the way users interact with our catalogue.  Even though Alma is web-based, it is a back-end system to which only library staff will log in.  The new interface to Explore, which has been running in parallel during this academic year, will become the sole interface from September, with Alma bringing some minor changes.  Again, this is a new, cleaner interface with mobile-friendly features.  We are already working with colleagues to update user guides and training to reflect these changes, and further information will follow.

Thank you all for your contribution to this important development.