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Alma / Primo Migration & Training Guide

Patron Load


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What is the patron load?

On a weekly basis, we check the NOAA staff directory for new and changed entries (based on certain criteria). We run a script to export data from those entries into an XML that Alma can read, and load the records into Alma using an integration profile. (Alma documentation refers to this as a "Student Information Systems" integration profile, and in some cases you may still see "SIS" used as an abbreviation for this process.)

As part of the patron load process, we also monitor for accounts that should be made inactive, reactivated, or merged.

This process allows us to:

  • automatically create accounts for new NOAA employees within a week of their email being active
  • automatically link patron accounts to NOAA SSO
  • update patron accounts when key changes occur (e.g., patron is served by a new library, has a name change, or works in a different Line Office)
  • deactivate accounts for people who no longer have an active NOAA email
  • identify patron accounts that should be merged
  • manage the deletion process for very old accounts that are no longer active

What records are included in the patron load?

The patron load only looks at records for NOAA personnel that have a email address. "Function" emails (like are excluded.  Records that have not yet been marked "active" in the directory (such as those for new employees that don't have an active email account yet) are also excluded.

What fields are included in the patron load?

The patron load considers the following information from the directory:

  • Names
  • Email and alternate email addresses
  • Employee ID number
  • Addresses (for use in determining the user group and campus for the account)
  • Description and Title
  • Organizational Units
  • Primary Mail Admin (for use in determining the user group and campus, when necessary)
  • Line Office
  • User Status

(Many records only have information in some of these fields.)

Based on those fields, the patron load calculates and outputs the following fields for the Alma record:

  • General
    • Primary Identifier
    • Names (First, Last, Middle, and preferred)
    • Job description
    • User Group
    • Campus
    • Status
  • Contact Information
    • Email Address (preferred)
    • Email Address (additional)
  • Identifiers
    • Additional ID 1 ("OTHER_ID_1", which functions as the SSO ID)
  • Statistics
    • Line Office

A Note about Addresses in Patron Records

Addresses (and phone numbers) are not currently being updated or included in the records created by the patron load, because:

  • we have not identified a use case for storing every patron's address information in Alma
  • occasionally, the directory contains home addresses (usually marked as address type "Residential" or "Other"), which we do not wish to store in Alma

We may enter address information in Alma on a case-by-case basis, if we have a specific need to store that information in the patron record.  However, in most cases, we do not need it.

In cases where we have address information in Alma, it is because of one of the following conditions:

  • the record was created in Sirsi and the information was migrated over  (this information may be out of date)
  • NOAA library staff entered or updated the address information manually in Alma
  • the patron has entered the information in Primo themselves, using the Personal Details section of "My Library Card"

How are User Group and Campus calculated?

Campus is calculated based on the patron's:

  • Line Office
  • Organizational Units
  • Primary Mail Admin
  • Address information, which could include:
    • State
    • City and ZIP Code
    • Specific (government) building address 

Full criteria and assignment details are outlined in the Library User Group Assignment Google Doc.

We have user records for NOAA personnel who are patrons of libraries in the network that use other catalogs

Some libraries in the NOAA Library Network maintain the majority of their holdings in catalogs other than the NOAA Libraries' instance of Alma. These include:

Patrons of each of these libraries will need to visit their home library's catalog to get access to resources specific to their library, including physical holdings. However, they also have access to NOAA Library Network-wide electronic resources through Primo.  We maintain separate user groups for them so that we can best direct them to the appropriate channels for gaining access to additional materials through their home library.

What if we need to change the information in the patron record?

We can change the information if we need to.  The patron load only updates the records if there is new or changed information in the directory in one of a few specific fields that we import into Alma (aside from the Job Description field), so it will not overlay any changes until the directory record changes.

For records that have been created by the Patron Load process:

These records will typically be marked as "External" in Alma. Some fields may be grayed out and not allow input, but other fields (like User Group and Campus) can be updated freely in Alma.  If you need to update one of the grayed out fields:

  1. Click the "Open for Update" button at the top of the record.
  2. Alma will prompt about whether you want to prevent certain fields from being overlaid.
    We will not need to prevent the fields from being overwritten in most cases. If the information currently in the directory is wrong, the patron record will not make any changes to the record until the directory record is updated. In most cases, we would expect that the update would include the new information.
    • Click Yes only if:
      • you are planning to edit one of those fields listed in the dialog box
      • your changes should supersede all future updates from the directory
    • Otherwise, click No.
  3. Edit the field as normal.