Magazine article Computers in Libraries

From SirsiDvnix Symphony to Alma/Primo: Lessons Learned from Am ILS Migration

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

From SirsiDvnix Symphony to Alma/Primo: Lessons Learned from Am ILS Migration

Article excerpt

Migrating to a new ILS is not easy, and it is even more challenging when faced with a tight deadline. The Joint Bank Fund Library migrated to the new Alma/Primo system in May 2016. This article will go through the implementation process and share a few lessons: what worked, what didn't work, and what to prepare in advance of a migration. We hope it will provide some insights that are beneficial to other libraries that are in a similar process. It will also share some insight about post-migration work related to data cleanup, workflow review, etc.


In recent years, more and more libraries have been in the process of adopting the new library services platforms (a term coined by consultant Marshall Breeding) to better manage all library resources in one place, regardless of whether they are print or electronic. The Joint Bank Fund Library is no exception. To better manage the electronic resources that account for more than 95% of the overall budget, we selected Ex Libris Group's Alma/Primo to replace the 20-year-old SirsiDynix Symphony ILS system after the formal RFP process and with careful review of the library automation marketplace and internal needs assessment.

The Joint Bank Fund Library, the largest library in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group's (WBG) Library Network, serves the staff in Washington, D.C., and at country offices and resident missions. It collects and makes available information published globally on the economic, political, and financial situations of countries, as well as core international economics and poverty-related topics. Besides the Symphony ILS system from SirsiDynix, we also use Serials Solutions 360 to manage electronic resources and Summon as the discovery interface.

The library's collection currently includes the following:

* More than 331,000 print/non-print volumes

* 206 e-collections and databases (120 currently activated in Alma)

* 55,000-plus ejournals and newspapers

* More than 17,000 ebooks in 43 collections

Project Background

The project was officially kicked off in early January 2016, immediately after the signing of the contract and was completed in approximately 5 months via a cohort mode. The first key task was to assemble a project team with a clear understanding of all team members' roles and responsibilities. It was led by the team lead of library operations and comprised six subgroups. Each subgroup focused on specific functionalities or modules. Subgroup members were also responsible for communicating progress and project findings to their colleagues who perform similar work on a regular basis. There was an advisory team of library managers who provided guidance on key policy and implementation decisions. IT project managers from both the fund and the bank (later in the project) were also assigned to the team to help coordinate various IT-related issues.

Lesson 1-Leave Enough Time for Pre-Implementation Preparation

In our case, there was less than a month in between the contract signing and project kickoff, which left little time for staffers to prepare. Alma is a new, complex system-built on a different architecture and data model from our previous system-which requires staff time and effort to review documentation and training videos. Ideally, it would have been better to have at least 6 months of preparation time before implementation. Not only would it have helped get pre-migration data cleanup better targeted for migration, but it would also have helped librarians get more up-to-speed in terms of understanding how Alma/Primo works and make informed decisions when it comes to answering data-specification and configuration-related questions. It would have been desirable to avoid a compressed cohort implementation schedule. It was already a stressful time for all library staffers, so the compressed schedule only added more stress.

Lesson 2-Clean Up Your Data

It was clear to us at the very beginning that we needed to clean up our ILS data, especially after using the same system for 20 years. …

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