The Alma Course API – An Exercise in Course Integration
Alma Course Loader was inflexible – only runnable once a day, and doesn’t let you recover from errors. So wanted to write their own. Migrated to Alma when SOAP was available; later had to rewrite for REST API. With the advent of Leganto the integration has become of even more importance.
Importance of API quotas and minimising frequency of calls. (Especially as the same API gateway is used by all Alma customers!) Course field mappings also important at the start. Another difficulty was course collapsing and parent-child course relationships (eg different cohorts within one course) which was important at their uni and was the hardest part to figure out. Ended up using course code for normal courses and parent course code for collapsed courses.
Discovered that even when they asked for JSON, error messages would come back as XML and crash their system – so ended up just writing their program to use XML instead of JSON.
Logging is a good debugging tool and audit trail and useful when raising jobs with Ex Libris.
Senior management often doesn’t value library contribution to course management – this is often political and requires a lot of awareness-raising among lecturers etc to get them to talk up the library to project managers.
Ex Libris company update
Bar Veinstein, President Ex Libris
- in 85 of top 100 unis; 65million api calls/month; percentage of new sales that are in cloud up from 16% in 2009 to 96% in 2017; 92% customer satisfaction
- Pivot for exploration of funding/collaboration https://www.proquest.com/products-services/Pivot.html
- aim to develop solutions sustainably so not a proliferation of systems for developing needs
- looking at more AI to develop recommendation eg “high patron demand for 8 titles. review and purchase?”, “based on usage patterns, you should move 46 titles from closed stacks to open shelves?”, “your interloans rota needs load balancing, configure now?”, “you’ve got usage from vendors who provide SUSHI accounts you haven’t set up yet, do that now?”, algorithms around SUSHI vs usage.
- serious about retaining Primo/Summon; shared content and metadata
- Primo VE – realtime updates. Trying to reduce complexity of Primo Back Office (pipes etc – but unclear what replaces this when pipes are “all gone”)
- RefWorks not just for end user but also aggregated analytics on cloud platform. Should this be connected/equal to eshelf on Primo?
- Leganto – ‘wanting to get libraries closer to teaching and learning’ – tracking whether instructors are actually using it and big jumps between semesters.
- developing app services (ux, workflow, collaboration, analytics, shared data) and infrastructure services (agile, multi-tenancy, open apis, metadata schemas, auth) on top of cloud platform – if you’ve got one thing with them very quick to implement another because they already know how you’re set up.
- principles of openness: more transactions now via api than staff direct action.
- Proquest issues – ExL & PQ passing the customer service buck, so to align this. Eg being able to transfer support cases directly across between Salesforce instances.
Ex Libris prodct presentation
Oren Beit-Arie, Ex Libris Chief Strategy Officer
- 1980s acquisitions not part of library systems -> integrated library systems
- 2000s e-resource mgmt not part of ILS -> library services platform (‘unified resource mgmt system’)
- now teaching/learning/research not part of LSPs -> … Ex Libris’s view of a cloud ‘higher education platform’
– course reading lists; copyright compliance; integration with Alma/Primo/learning management system
– improve teaching and learning experience; student engagement; library efficiency; compliance; maximise use of library collections
– Alma workflows, creation of OpenURLs…
– in dev
– planning – discovery and analysis – writing – publication – outreach – assessment
– researchers (publish, publish, publish); librarians (provide research services); research office (increase research funding/impact)
– [venn diagram] research admin systems [research master]; research data mgmt systems [figshare]; institutional repositories [dspace]; current research information systems [elements]
– pain points for rseearchers: too may systems, overhead, lack of incentive, hard to keep public profile up to date
– for research office – research output of the uni, lack of metrics, hard to track output and impact, risk of noncompliance
– next gen research repository: all assets; automated capture (don’t expect all content to be in repository); enrichment of metadata
– showcase research via discovery/portals; automated researcher profiles; research benchmarks/metrics
– different assets including creative works, research data, activities
– metadata curation and enrichment (whether direct deposit, mediated deposit, automatic capture) through partnerships with other parties (data then flows both ways, with consent)
– guiding principles: not to change researchers’ habits; not to create more work for librarians; not to be another ‘point solution’ (interoperable)
– parses pdf from upload for metadata (also checks against Primo etc). Keywords suggested based on researcher profile
– deposit management, apc requests, dmp management etc in “Research” tab on Alma
– allows analytics of eg journals in library containing articles published by faculty
– tries to track relationships with datasets
– public view essentially a discovery layer (it’s very Primo NewUI with bonus document viewer – possibly just an extra view) for research assets – colocates article with related dataset
– however have essentially ruled research administration systems out of scope as starting where their strength is. Do have Pivot however.