A national library perspective on Alma #anzreg2019

A national library perspective on Alma
Sandra McKenzie, National Library of New Zealand

Ex Libris marketing towards higher education/academic libraries. National Library purpose (per legislation) is to “enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand” including by collecting, preserving and protecting documents, and making them accessible for all the people of New Zealand.

NLNZ has two categories of collections:

  1. heritage collections held permanently, in controlled environments – both physical and digital
  2. general collections, borrowable but usually also kept in stack

Legal deposit – for physical resources publishers must deposit 2 copies (one for heritage and one for general collection); for digital resources, 1 file format. If publish both, deposit both and each gets a separate record. NLNZ provides ISBNs and ISSNs, and is the national bibliographic agency for New Zealand. Bibliography scope includes not just legal deposit but anything about New Zealand from overseas. Monthly extract from Alma made available in various formats, and dataset updated quarterly.

Analogue avalanche and digital deluge. (Project to import a few terabytes of data from musicians – will be talked about at National Digital Forum.)

Migrated from Rosetta to Alma/Primo in 2018 – without systems librarians. Challenges:

  • Metadata editor – very clunky for original cataloguing which is very important for them. A “fluid approach to adhering to MARC21”. Looking forward to new metadata editor.
  • Born digital workflows – nonexistent though an Idea is under review. No digital legal deposit workflow so had to use a physical order workflow – need to be able to chase them up.
  • Deduplication – different publishing numbers for digital inventory and for physical workaround inventory – Primo dedups this. Two very different maps, contour vs cadastral, but with same title – only difference is the series number, so Primo deduped it. Could turn this off but then would have a problem with the born digital material.
  • Serials – ongoing challenge; vast parts of the collection have no item records so requesting is very difficult


  • Normalisation rules – use this extensively and test in Sandbox which they love. Use them record-by-record eg for creating an online record based on a print record. Also use for metadata clean-up and for bulk record creation
  • Integration with Rosetta which stores files eg for podcasts

New ways of working

  • Thinking across teams, looking at the order they do things
  • Use records from spreadsheets, lots of use of MarcEdit which had only been used by specialists previously
  • New position of “digital collecting specialist” who use norm rules, APIs, MarcEdit etc
  • Template for podcast, harvest specific details for each episode from the RSS feed to fill in the rest. More scripts manage import into Rosetta. From 2018 to 2019 big increase in machine generated records from 500 to over 2500. (People still involved but machine doing the boring parts, cataloguers choose templates and analyse subject keywords required.)

Q: How do you deal with archival materials?
A: These are handled in a separate system.

Q: Have you managed to overcome the problems with serials?
A: Work in progress….

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