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  • Continuous Orders 1: Order creation - Class Materials and Script

Spring 2019 Update

The scripts and training materials in this section were used by Alma peer trainers & facilitators during the active Implementation project phase (April 2018 - June 2019).

These materials are now archived and may contain outdated information/past practice - do not use as-is. This content was last updated February 2019.

For current Alma training, please visit the Learning Alma - for Staff and Managers page.

Handouts, resources and display documents for the class

Handout – Vocab handout (word doc)

Handout – Continuous Orders 1 Handout (Word doc) (word doc)

Display on screen – 

Pre-reading and reference documents for this class

Outline for the class and links to related documentation

Class titleOutline of topicsLinks to related documentation
Continuous Orders OneOverview of Acq workflow
 POL, PO and PO Line Owner concepts

Walk through a print journal subscription order for a title not owned by Harvard Library

 and/or using search external resources option
 Place an order (Print Journal Subscription)
 As you place order, remember the Vendor concepts
 As you place order, remember the Fund concepts

Submitting the order

Seeing what the completed order looks like

Finding out what goes into review, why and what to do to get it out of review


Concept of templates

Using Continuous Order Templates

 Place an order (Multi-part monograph=Physical Standing Order Non-Monograph)

Script for the Class


Welcome to Continuous Orders part 1. My name is ..... (and our facilitator/s in this class is/are... ).

This class will build on concepts from the Searching Vendors, Invoices and Funds for Selectors and Acquisitions Staff class and any Items & Holdings or Cataloging class you've taken. We will cover order placement, submitting an order, and using order templates. You can follow along with me as I demonstrate, or wait until each practice break to try it yourself.

A few notes:

  • Alma went live on July 3rd and, as expected, we're learning new things about it as staff work with real data in the system. Everyone is continuing to learn Alma, and will have the support they need to do so.

  • We are training on the tool of Alma, and while there is usually more than one way to do anything in Alma, we will show you one verified or preferred way to do tasks. Once you've learned the best practice, we encourage staff to discuss local procedures and workflows in your units.

  • We also encourage everyone to come together in Learning Circles - either cross-functional within units or on the same functions across units - to discuss how the implementation is going and how the new features and workflows in Alma might change work at Harvard.

  • Please continue to use the LTS Alma Support form to ask questions and report issues with Alma data, workflows, or roles & permissions. Asking these questions, and working groups providing answers, is an important part of everyone learning more about Alma. You can find the link in the Notifications widget in Alma, along with the link to Alma documentation on the LTS wiki.

  • You have a 1-page handout that contains a link to the Alma sandbox, the wiki page for this class, and a few other useful links. (If there are other handouts, describe them.) The script and all materials for this class are available to review on the wiki, and will continue to be updated with any changes in procedures.

Some quick logistics information: 

  • The nearest bathrooms & water supply are:
    • Lamont rooms: Restrooms are gendered by floor. Lamont 310 is on a men's room floor, Lamont B-30 is on a women's room floor.
    • 90 Mt Auburn: Two restrooms are on the opposite side of the building on the basement level, water is in the kitchenette and in a fountain by the restrooms
    • 625 Mass Ave: Restrooms are at the opposite end of the building on the 3rd floor, by the water fountain
  • Please ask questions when they come up; I will also pause between sections for questions and to make sure things are clear.

Let's start by introducing ourselves. (Go around the room and ask everyone to share their name, library/unit, and primary role(s).)


Class overview

Today we will review the steps and new vocabulary terms related to placing different types of continuous orders, first by placing a print journal subscription and then standing order. We will take a break after each section for you to practice.

Overview of Acquisitions

First, let's review the general workflow of Acquisitions in Alma.

  • Purchasing
  • Receiving (physical items)
  • Activation (electronic titles)
  • Invoicing
  • and Other activities such as claiming, binding, etc., which will be covered in the Order Maintenance class

Alma has a stage of ordering and invoicing called In Review.

  • When something is “In Review”, information is either missing or wrong, according to Alma.
  • We need to check and update whatever Purchase Order Lines, Purchase Orders, and Invoices are In Review, in order for them to move to the next step in the workflow

Alma also gives you choices about how to place an order. These choices include:

  • Order Now or
  • Save and continue, which Packages a POL: this can be
    • Auto packaging or
    • Manual packaging
    • Certain order details need to be in common for packaging.

Finally, there are three new terms in the ordering process: POL, PO, and PO Owner

  • POL=Purchase Order Line -- This is an individual order for a title.
  • PO=Purchase Order  --  This is what is sent to the vendor.
    • A PO could include 1 POL or more
    • There is also the option, which I just mentioned, to “package” or collect POLs with common values into a PO
  • PO Owner=Purchase Order Owner -- This is the “library” or “department” responsible for creating the order.

Placing an order (Print Journal Subscription)

NOTE TO TRAINER: You will need an example of a periodical not owned by Harvard

Okay, let’s walk through the steps for ordering a print journal subscription that is not owned by Harvard Library. The order is for Schlesinger Library.

  • One of the first things to do is to check our location.
  • Although the location we select in Alma is not critical when we are ordering, make sure that your location is set properly. In Alma, what we are able to see and do depends on both our location and permissions.

Preorder searching

  • Next we would preorder search in the Institution Zone to see if the Harvard Library owns the title. Let’s say that we have already performed this step.
  • Since we are ordering a print journal, we would not need to search the Community Zone. Community Zone contains records for e-resources. If we were ordering an online journal, then we would search both the Institution Zone and the Community Zone.

Searching external resources

  • For our example, we will be searching external resources
  • We would go to Resources  > Search External Resources
  • This will bring up the Metadata Editor
  • It is in the Search Cataloging Profile box,  you select where you’re going to search
  • We’ll select WorldCat + Library of Congress and type in [title and ISSN of the journal example] and hit  [Enter]
  • If we retrieved too many results, we could further limit the search by clicking Refine Search and adding more search
  • Once we locate the record we want, we’ll click Import and bring the bib. record into Alma
  • The shopping cart means different things in different places within Alma, but in the Metadata Editor it does means Order.
  • I’ll click the shopping cart.
  • When this step is completed we land in the same place as when we manually enter an order in Alma on the PO Line Owner and Type page

Constructing our print journal subscription order

  1. We are in the PO Line Owner and Type page and is in other places within Alma, the red asterisks indicate required fields.
    1. The Description aka Title is already filled in
    2. I’ll click the downward arrow at the end of the box next to the Purchase type
      1. Alma will list recommendations for the Purchase type based on information from the bib. record
      2. I’ll click Print Journal – Subscription
      3. The next required field is PO line owner which is the “library” or “department” that is placing the order. It is not necessarily where the material will be shelved. In this case, the journal is being ordered by Schlesinger and will be shelved at Schlesinger. Thus, I’ll select Schlesinger Library as the PO line owner
    3. If we leave the  Assign inventory manually box unchecked, Alma will automatically create inventory for the new PO line. Remember, inventory in Alma means holdings and items.
      1. However, at this point, there is a big difference between One Time Orders and Continuous Orders.
      2. For One Time Orders, Alma creates holdings and items. But, for Continuous Orders, Alma only creates holdings.
      3. Item records for Continuous Orders are created at the point of receipt or by the creation of a prediction pattern. See Receiving a One time and Continuous order and Creating prediction patterns for more details.  
      4. We will leave the Assign inventory manually box unchecked, because the library ordering the journal and where it will be shelved are the same. Thus, we want Alma to create the inventory (holdings) automatically.

Creating a POL using a template

  1. However, before we proceed with placing this order, we’ll pretend that the bibliographer actually sent us a batch of 30 print journal orders and they are all to be ordered from Coutts.
  2. This scenario is an example of when using or creating a template might be more efficient.
  3. For more information, please refer to this document: List of fields saved in a POL Template
  4. As you can see, right above the Assign inventory manually box is “Load from template”. Clicking on the downward arrow, we are presented with three options: Recently Used; My Templates; and Public
    1. Recently Used are templates that, I have recently used
    2. My Templates, also referred to as “private templates”, are templates that I created and are for my use only
    3. Public Templates are templates created by and can be used by the entire Harvard Library
    4. I just happen to know, that there is an existing template we can use.
    5. In the Load from template box we’ll search for or (we’ll click on), SCH/COUTTS/PJS
  1. Next we’ll click the blue button : Create PO Line
  2. A blue informational message appears “A new PO Line was created. Please review it.” At this point, the POL has moved into the “Review stage”.
    • Whenever a PO, POL, or Invoice is in review, this means that there is information missing or wrong or confusing to Alma
  1. Alma does a good job of communicating with us. As we work, we’ll receive windows to:
    • confirm an action
    • as well as blue and red colored alerts.
    • The red alerts will also put a PO or a POL, or an invoice into review.

Are there any questions at this point?

Reviewing the POL

  1. Okay, we are on the Purchase Order Line Details  page and let’s begin reviewing.
  2. Right below the blue message we can see some brief bib. information about the title we are ordering (Title, publisher, ISSN)
  3. If we click on the title, we go to the Record View page and can see the complete bib. record
  4. [Question for participants]: From the Record View page, how do we go back?
  5. As you have probably already heard, we do not want to hit the browser’s back arrow. (point to the browser’s back arrow). Sometimes it works fine, but other times it not. 
  6. So, to make sure we go to our next intended step, we can either click the arrow to the left of Record View “OR” the gray Back button.
  7. We are now back to the Purchase Order Line Details page and ready to continue our review.
  8. Below the title is:
    1. The Order Line, which is the POL number. We can write down the POL number just in case we want to search for it later [
    2. The Order line type, exactly what we wanted to order “Print Journal-Subscription
    3. PO line owner is Schlesinger Library
    4. And there is the status we mentioned earlier. The POL is “In Review”
    5. Click on blue circle ‘i’ for more information
  9. If we click on the blue circle with the lower case “i” we’ll see information about when and by whom the POL was created and last updated.


  1. Continuing our review, we can see several Tabs. When the tabs are dog-eared it means there is additional information, which you can see by clicking on the tab
  2. When a POL is created, Alma automatically opens up to the Summary tab. All the red asterisks (the Required fields) are located in this tab.
  3. Let’s go through the sections of the Summary tab and continue building our POL:
    1.     Ordered Items section
      1.  The first required field is hidden. We must click the Add Location link to see that a red asterisk is next to “Number of holdings to create”. This box is already filled in, because we used the template. This field is also filled in when the Assign inventory manually box is left unchecked.
      2.  We can click the “x” in the upper right corner of this pop-up window to close it
      3. Library (Schlesinger Library) and Location (In-library use only) both come from the template we used (SCH/COUTTS/PJS)
      4. The Receiving note can also be saved in a template. This note is similar to the Check-in note in Aleph. The note will prominently display during receipt.
      5. Currently there is no note, but we could also add one at this point.
      6. Routing during receiving and  Binding during Receiving are two additional options we can select when applicable.
        1. Routing during receiving allows us to add information about ‘interested users’. It will result in a confirmation message when materials are received, alerting us about the interested users.

If we checked the Binding during Receiving box, when materials are received, a confirmation message appears informing that the order is marked for binding and must be sent for binding.

Vendor & Claim Concepts

  1. Okay, on to the next section Vendor Information
    1. Material supplier is another field that is saved in a POL template
      1. Remember, in our pretend scenario, that the bibliographer wants all orders to be placed with Coutts.
      2. For Continuous Orders, the next Four fields are very important
    2.      Let’s look at the first two fields:
      1. Expected receipt after ordering (days) 
        Or Expected receipt date
      2. We would enter a value in only one of these fields.
      3. If you enter a value in both fields, the Expected receipt after ordering (days) field is ignored.  
      4. If we left both fields empty, the expected receipt date defaults to the date that the PO line is sent to the vendor.
      5. These values are used to calculate the claim date. The third important field is the Claiming  grace period
        1. This is a grace period (in days) after the expected receipt date. In our example, if nothing is received for this order within 270 days the PO line is sent to the claims task list
      6. The fourth important field is the Subscription interval
        1.  The receipt interval, in days, of the continuous order (such as 30 for monthly, 90 for quarterly, and so forth).
        2. This value is used to calculate the claim date, as well as the expected arrival date of predicted items. 

                                            iii.     The information in these three fields: Expected receipt after ordering (days); Expected receive date; and Claiming grace period comes from the Vendor Account record. We could, however, change these values in this POL as appropriate.

                                            iv.     For more information, please refer to this document: Claiming (One-Time / Continuous)

Fund & Packaging Concepts

  1. The next section is Pricing
    1.  For the List price you would add whatever amount is local policy.
      1. I’m going to add one cent. Alma requires that this amount to be entered as 0.01.
    2.  The Quantity for pricing field is supplied by the template we used. It could be used to specify the number of copies ordered.
  2. The Funding section can also be saved in a template. The template we are using, however, did not include the fund information.
    1.  So, to select the fund for this order, we would click on the blue Add Fund link.
    2.  We have three options:
      1. We can search for a fund
      2. We can review a list of funds
      3. Or, we can click on the Recent button and select a fund we used recently. (Alma has various “sticky” places where the system remembers what information was last used.
    3.  I will use this fund ____________. Notice that 100 % of the cost will come from the fund selected. We could update with different percentages if we wanted to use multiple funds.
    4. Okay, next I’ll click the Add Fund button
    5. As I mentioned, the template we are now using did not include the fund. Let’s say, however, that the batch of 30 print journal subscription orders we are placing with Coutts for Schlesinger were all to be RUSH ordered and encumbered on the same fund.
    6.  It might make sense to create a template with the RUSH box checked and the fund included.
    7.  In order to do this:
      1. You would click on the ellipsis (…) at the top
      2. Click on Save as template
      3. Add a name for the template
      4. Click Yes (for all of Harvard Library to use) or No (for a private template—only for your use)
      5. Whether we Save or Cancel, we are brought back to the Purchase Order Line Details page. I’ll click Cancel


  1. In the next section, PO Line Details, the Acquisition method, Reporting code, Note to vendor, Material type, and Rush are all fields are supplied by the template we used. We’ll leave the information as is.
    1.   Before we move on, however, I want to point out three things:
      1. First, it is important to note is the Acquisition method.
        1. This will determine how the order is communicated to the vendor. 
        2. Purchase is the only option that will send an email automatically through Alma to the vendor.
        3.  If any of the other choices are selected (click on the drop down arrow) the order will need to be communicated to the vendor, outside of Alma, as appropriate.
        4. We’ll leave it as Purchase
      2. Second, the Reporting code is the Object Code, and we are not currently using the Secondary and Tertiary reporting codes.
      3. Third, is a concept that I mentioned earlier , which is the packaging or grouping of Purchase Order Lines into a Purchase Order.
        1. Here we see the an option for Manual packaging. If you check this box, you can decide what POLs are packaged or grouped, into the same Purchase Order
        2. Certain fields in the POLS, however, must be the same in order for them to be packaged together.  

                                                                                                     i.     For more information, please refer to this document:Requirements for packaging: common values                                                                                                   ii.     As a reminder, all the documents I’m referring to are listed on the LTS wiki, right below the pre-reading documents

  1. For our example, we’ll leave the Manual packaging box unchecked and let Alma collect POLs into appropriate POs

Are there any questions at this point?

Renewal concepts

  1. The Renewal section is next and contains some important concepts for continuous orders
    1.   Here we see the Manual Renewal check box
      1. When the box is checked, the POL appears in the renewals task list when the material is due for renewal. Further processing of this PO line must be performed manually.
      2. If the box is unchecked, the POL’s renewal is processed automatically. We will uncheck this box.
    2.  The Subscription from date is  the start date of the subscription (usually Jan. 1st of the year the subscription begins)
      1. You can click on the calendar and select the date or, as I will do now, you can type in the date. I’ll type in 01/01/2018
    3.  The Subscription to date is powerful.
      1. So powerful, in fact, that it is not recommended to put any date in for automatic renewals
      2. Why? Because the POL will close when the automatic renewal job detects that the Subscription to date has passed
      3. Thus, the Recommended best practice is for continuous orders that have no predetermined end is to leave this field blank.
    4. The Renewal date determines when the order will appear on the Renewals task list. Thereafter, it is automatically incremented according to the value in the Renewal cycle field.
      1. For migrated Aleph orders, this date comes from the value in the Aleph Subscription record
        1. If there was no Renewal date in the Aleph subscription record, the Renewal date for migrated orders will be 12/31/2050. We can leave this date as is.
      2. For newly created orders in Alma, the Recommended best practice for automatic renewals is to input the date: 12/31/2099
    5. The Renewal cycle field is required for automatic renewals. The values are 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years. This field only appears filled in with a value if the Manual renewal box is unchecked.
      1. There is a dropdown menu with values for this field.
    6. The Renewal reminder period (days) is not required for automatic renewals, so we’ll leave this field blank 
  2.      Please note that Renewals will never be sent to vendors Automatically
    1. Harvard's instance of Alma does NOT have the renewal notification to vendors enabled to automatically send the communication.
    1.  Since most subscriptions are ongoing, with no need for communication with vendors regarding renewals, it is recommended to set POLs for Automatic renewals
      1. Thus, the Manual renewal box is unchecked and there is no need for any additional steps in the Renewals processing workflow
  4. With that said, the Manual renewal process might be useful for the following cases:
    1.   A limited time subscription. For example, when a bibliographer only wants a one or two year subscription and then wants to reevaluate if it should be renewed at all

b.    The vendor does not accept “real” standing orders/subscriptions . As a result you would have to “order” every year and using the manual renewal process will remind you to place the order once again

Submitting the order

  1. We have finished reviewing and filling out our POL and are now ready to order!
  2. What are some of our choices? Looking up at the top we could click on:
    1.  Save - The information is saved and the POL remains in its current workflow stage
    2. Save and Continue – the information you entered is saved and the PO line continues to the following stage of the workflow (most likely the manual or auto-packaging stage)
    3. Delete – Means the POL is gone forever; cancelled POLs are still in the system   
    4. Defer – PO line is deferred and appears in the Review Deferred task list until it is either reactivated or canceled. (I haven’t tried this.)
    5. Order Now – This moves the POL to the purchasing workflow, where it is normalized and validated before being packaged and sent to the vendor
  3. We are going to Click on Order Now
  4. We receive a Confirmation Message (Trainer reads the message)
  5. We’ll click the Confirm button

We then receive the Blue message “Your request to order now POL-XXXX has been submitted.

Seeing what the completed order looks like

If we wanted to look at the order, we would

  1. Go to the Persistent Search bar
  2. Search Order lines > PO Line and enter the POL# (ex. 2787)
  3. We are now on the Purchase Order Lines page and we can see the status of the Order and the Order Line
  4. If anything goes into Review, it has to be corrected before it goes on to the next step in the workflow. 

      i.For more information, please refer to this document: Reviewing Purchase Order lines and Purchase orders

Are there any questions at this point?

Placing an order

(Multi-part monograph=Physical Standing Order Non-Monograph)

NOTE TO TRAINER:  You will need an example of a multi-part monograph owned by Harvard

Preorder Search in the Institution Zone

Next we are going to work through ordering a multi-part monograph. Or, in Alma speak, a physical standing order non-monograph.

This Alma label includes many different categories of Aleph orders. For more information, please refer to this document: [Need link to the charts outlining what Aleph order types migrated to what Alma order types. The charts can be found here] 

  1. Again, although our location does not matter when we are placing orders, I think it will help us remember the importance of location in other areas of Alma if we practice changing our location here. So, let’s change our location to ITS 625 Acquisitions-ITS Tech Services
  2. For this scenario, the bibliographer has told us this multi-part monograph is already owned by another Harvard library, but they also want an order for their library.
  3. First we’ll perform search in the institution zone to find the record. Remember the institution zone is the entire Harvard Library community.
  4. Going to the persistent search box, All titles >  Title , let’s search [insert title]
  5. You’ll notice the green shopping cart. Take care! Remember when we clicked on the shopping cart in the MD Editor to order the print journal subscription? Well, we are not in the MD Editor, but on the All Titles results page.
  6. The shopping cart icon here does not mean order. Rather, the number next to it tells us how many POLs are attached to this bib.
  7. Click on the ellipsis at the upper right corner of the title entry’s box and click ‘order’.
  8. We are now on the same screen, PO Line Owner and Type where we began building our print journal order.
  9. We see some brief bib. information and the title is already in the Description field.
  10. Clicking on the downward arrow of the Purchase type box, let’s find Physical – Standing Order Non Monograph and click on it.
  11. This time we are going to check the Assign inventory manually box.
  12. [Question for participants]: Does anyone know why we are checking this box?
  13.  Because, the PO line owner (ITS 625 Acquisitions) is different than the library where the book will be shelved.
    1.   [Note to trainer: order for one of the a libraries serviced by 625: Lamont, Widener, or Schlesinger]
  14. Now let’s click the Create PO line
  15. A confirmation message pops up (Read to the audience) “This PO Line will not create an inventory item. Click the Confirm button.  
  16. 18.  We are now on the Purchase Order Line Details page and see the message “A new PO Line was created. Please review it.”
  17. We’ll go through filling out this POL rather quickly, since we’ll be filling out information similar to the print journal subscription.
  18. With that said, the first section Ordered Items is different than the previous example, because there is no location information. Remember, we selected the Assign inventory manually box. Inventory in Alma, for a continuous order equals the holdings record.
  19. Let’s click on the Add Location link and from the Supported libraries drop down menu, select the library we are ordering for and click the “Add” button
  20. Next we’ll fill out:
    1.   Material supplier
    2. List price
    3. Fund
    4.  Acquisition method = Purchase at Vendor System
    5. Material type = Book
    6. Reporting code = Print^Monographs (7031)
    7. Uncheck Manual renewal box   
    8. Subscription from date = 01/01/2018
    9. Subscription to date = blank
    10. Renewal date = 12/31/2099
  21. Now let’s click Order Now, then Confirm
  22. We have completed the order for a multi-part monograph.
  23. If we want to look at the order
    1. We can go up to the Persistent Search Bar  Order lines > POLine and type in the POL number
  24. From the Purchase Order Lines page, click on the title and bring up the Purchase Order Line Details page
  25. Next we’ll click the title and once on the Record View page, we’ll click Edit
  26. We are now in the MD Editor
  27. 29.  From here we’ll complete the important next step when ordering a physical standing order non-monograph which is annotating the Acquisitions status field to indicate the title is on order
  28. Click on the View inventory icon; looks like a file box with a magnifying glass (or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + I)
  29. Click on Edit next for the holdings you just added to open the holdings record in Edit mode
  30. Click on the 008 field and Open the editing form by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + F)
  31. Change the value in byte 6 (Receipt or Acquisition status) to reflect the nature of the order
  32. 3 On order
  33. Hit the Escape (Esc) on your keyboard to close the form   
  34. Save the holdings record
  35. Release both the holdings and bib record (Ctrl+Alt+R)

Are there any questions at this point?

Hands on Practice

Trainer: Make sure you leave 10-15 minutes for learners to practice.

Now it's time to practice the steps we've walked through. Please choose to place a print journal subscription and/or a physical standing order non-monograph.

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