Basic Cataloging in Alma

Basic Cataloging

This document will discuss the basic steps of cataloging material in Alma, including adding holdings and items.

Alma is divided into three silos - or three zones -- the community zone, the network zone, and the institution zone. For resource management, the community zone is a repository of records that have been contributed to the alma community by a variety of vendors and other resources. The network zone can be likened to ODIN's union catalog -- it's a repository of records, that our consortia shares. When a library obtains an item, they 'hang' their holdings off this shared, network record. Lastly, the institution zone contains records unique to the library, that aren't shared among all ODIN Alma libraries, such as brief acquisitions records or reserve items. The institution zone also includes local extensions – or local fields – libraries wish to have reflected in Network Zone records. This will be described later in the document.

Typically, most bibliographic records used will be contributed to the Network zone, and all libraries will be able to attach their holdings to the same bibliographic record. Material can be added to Alma using two different workflows:

  • If after searching the network zone, no record exists that matches your material, catalog the record in OCLC as per usual. There is no need to export the record, simply update your holdings. Once a record is updated, OCLC will place the record in a special ODIN file. This file is loaded into Alma once a day, and the records are added to the Network Zone. Once the record is in the Network Zone, you can add your library holding(s) and item(s) to it. The file from OCLC is downloaded once a day, in the morning.
  • If after searching the Network Zone a matching record is found, you may decide to add your library holding(s) and item(s) immediately. You will still need to update your holdings in OCLC, but there is no need to wait a day after updating holdings in OCLC. If you do wish to update in OCLC and wait the day, that is fine – it is your choice.

I. Locating bibliographic record.

1. Searching in the Network Zone, locate the bibliographic record that matches the material you are adding to your collection.

2. Once you locate the record that matches the material you are adding to the catalog, you can edit the record to add any needed local fields. Click Edit Record to open the Metadata Editor.

3. The bibliographic record displays in the metadata editor. The Network Record is a record that is shared by all ODIN Alma libraries, and the fields cannot be edited. The exception, however, is you have the ability to add local extensions to the record. Local extensions are predesignated local fields that are unique to your institution’s view of the record. These extensions include various note fields, prices, and others. A full list of fields considered as local extensions can be found here.
To add a local extension to a record, click Editing Actions | Add Local Extension.


5. Alma presents you with an empty field. Enter the tag, indicators and any text needed. Note when you add the extension, Alma puts a house or institution zone icon next to the field.



6. When you’ve finished working with the record, save it. Either use the save short-cut icon, click Save | Save Record, or the short-cut keys Ctrl+S.

7. Alerts display in the lower portion of the screen. Those alerts in yellow are ‘soft’ alerts and do not need to be fixed before saving the record. Any alerts in red are ‘hard’ alerts and must be fixed before the record can be saved. Additionally, Alma has an auto-save feature and will save the record at intervals. The latest save time is noted at the top of the screen.

II. Adding holdings

1. Once the bibliographic record has been located and/or updated if needed, add your library’s holdings to the record. The holding is very similar to the holding record in Aleph in that it contains collection and call number information. To add holdings, click the Add Inventory menu or use the short-cut key Ctrl+Alt+H.

2. The holding record opens on the right side of the screen.

3. The 852 is present, and information can be typed into the field, including indicators and information in the subfields. ​​​​​​