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Shelf Inventory

Inventory Basics

All technology-based methods of doing inventory with Alma involve comparing a list of what is actually on the shelves with what Alma thinks is on the shelves.

Each inventory method has a mechanism for comparing those lists, and presenting the results. Library staff can then work to reconcile the differences, by marking items as LOST, reshelving items to correct shelving mistakes, and resolve items currently marked as LOST but actually on the shelves.

All three methods below can accomplish this task.

The most "bullet-proof" method, and the least likely to break or become obsolete over time, is the as-designed Alma method, listed first below. But it's also the most complex, detailed method. And has the disadvantage of not reporting out-of-order items.

The Purdue Method is the simplest and easiest to use, and generates the most succinct report to work. If The Purdue Method gives you adequate and accurate results, then no need to go further. But if you still have inventory concerns after using the Purdue tool, you can move on to one of the other methods.

The Alma Method

This method of inventory represents the out-of-the-box workflow for performing inventory.

Managing Physical Item Inventory Using Shelf Reporting

This method of inventory was well-presented at ELUNA 2018 in Spokane, WA by Tennessee Tech University.

The Purdue Method

This tool was developed by Purdue University as a PHP-based API program, whose use is documented here:

Shelf Inventory using Alma APIs - Ex Libris Developer Network (

A customized implementation for WACTCLC institutions can be found at:

The Chemeketa College Method

As presented at 2018 (Spokane, WA) ELUNA Conference, Chemeketa College developed this method of inventory, which involves an analytics report and custom Excel spreadsheets.


Activating Electronic Collections

Before you start:

In order to activate an electronic collection from the Community Zone, you must have the following roles in your User Details:

  • Electronic Inventory Operator
  • Electronic Inventory Operator Extended
  • Repository Manager

If your institution uses Alma Acquisitions these steps will not fully apply.

1) Look up the collection in the Community Zone. Find the collection that best matches your purchase or the open collection you want. Click on the "Activate" button.


  • Find new open collections through the CDI Collection Lists page.
  • Check the Management Level of the collection.
  • You can activate selectively at the Portfolio level during the Activation Wizard process, no need to choose individual portfolios at this step.

2) Fill in the Activation Wizard

Use Local Electronic Collection Information fields to customize display details

  • You may change the Public or display name of the e-collection, or keep the bib suppressed. You must declare whether the collection is proxy enabled.

Complete the Full Text Service selections.

  • You must select "Activate this electronic collection" and "Make service available." You may select "Automatically activate new portfolios" if your library wants all newly added portfolios to be activated immediately in the e-collection. You may add an "Active from" date.

Click blue "Next" button

3) Activation Wizard will have you confirm Linking Information.

Check that Proxy status is correct.

Click blue "Next" button

4) Activation Wizard will ask you choose an Activation Method

  • Activate all
  • Activate via Excel file upload
  • Manual activation - activate the electronic collection using the settings already chosen and manually select portfolios

Click blue "Next" button

5) Review Activation Summary and click blue "Activate" button to complete Wizard.

Depending on the number of portfolios processing time may vary from several seconds to several hours.

6) Review the collection in your IZ.

"Edit Collection" will allow you to change the following:

  • Public name
  • Description
  • Internal description
  • Library
  • Collection Type
  • Interface name
  • Access type

You can also add acquisitions and license information, like POL and expected activation date if you're setting up the Collection for a future purchase.

You cannot edit CDI Institution Settings from the Edit Collection tabs.

Circulation Instructions for IT Desk (Seattle Colleges Example)

The document above provides instructions for front-line staff circulating equipment from a satellite circulation location, such as an IT help desk.

The document is in MS Word, and is suitable for editing and re-use.

Dedupiclation & FRBR

Deduplication (dedup, or deduping) - the act of presenting identical record citations a a single record in Primo VE search results

FRBRization, or FRBR (from Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) - the act of grouping record citations referencing similar or the same works, for more streamlined presentation in search results.

Separating Alma from CDI content when analyzing issues

To deal effectively with the topics of Dedup and FRBR in Alma, be aware that:

1. Dedup and FRBR only apply to records in Alma

2. CDI citation merging is accomplished through the CDI match-and-merge process

You can use the "library catalog" and "articles" scopes in Primo VE to separate Alma and CDI citations, so that you can analyze issues more effectively (Note that Primo VE scope names and configurations vary among institutions.)

Dedup and FRBR

To evaluate why two Alma records are or are not deduping or FRBRizing as you expect, you can use the Dedup and FRBR Analysis Tool for Primo VE - Ex Libris Knowledge Center ( documentation).

To re-evaluate a record in Alma to fix a FRBRization issue, you can recalculate dedup and FRBR groups for a record.

If you want to customize dedup and FRBR configurations, to change the way records are deduped and FRBRized, that can now be accomplished with the newly released Dedup/FRBR Complete Key Combination functionality. However, that option should be approached with caution, as modifying dedup / FRBR logic can have a broad impact on search results.

CDI Match-and-Merge

The CDI-Match-and-Merge process is fully automated, and not configurable by the customer.

If you feel you have identified errors in the matching and merging of citations in Primo VE search results, you should open a SalesForce case. In the case, include the Primo VE permalinks of the citations not behaving as you expect, as well as EZProxy credentials for your institution, so that ExLibris can fully analyze the issue.

To help with evaluation of a CDI citation in Primo VE, you can use the newly released CDI Analysis Tool. This tool can be used to determine which collection and portfolio / title activation in Alma is resulting in a CDI citation being included in Primo VE search results.

Links of interest

Dedup and FRBR Analysis Tool for Primo VE - Ex Libris Knowledge Center ( documentation)

How to Test Dedup and FRBR (3 min video)

Become an Expert on Dedup and FRBR in Primo VE (Youtube, 55 min)

Match and Merge in the CDI (Informational only, not configurable by customer)

Duplicate Detection Vector - Ex Libris Knowledge Center (

Primo VE Dedup and FRBR | CARLI (

Understanding the Dedup and FRBR Processes (Primo VE) - Ex Libris Knowledge Center (

CDI Activation Analysis (

Match and Merge in CDI - Ex Libris Knowledge Center (