Child pages
  • The Alma Community Zone - Searching Module

This is the Alma Community Zone section of the searching module of the Alma Overviews course. The video is at the top of the page, followed by the script.

In this video, you'll review:

While working in Alma, you might have noticed another drop-down box in the search bar for some search types. This is where you would choose whether you're going to search the Alma Institution Zone (that's Harvard) or in the Community Zone.

What Is the Community Zone?

Alma is used by hundreds of libraries around the world. One thing that makes it a powerful platform is that some of the information in common between those institutions can be shared, like eResources and Authority record information. These records are located in what’s called the Community Zone: a shared space for the community of Alma users.

These two icons will tell you whether you’re searching just Harvard’s records, or records that are in this shared space:

  • The house icon is the Institution Zone, so Harvard's records
  • The people icon is the Community Zone, so all of Alma institutions

As we've seen before, this option is context-dependent – if I switch to an Invoice search, it disappears, because invoices would never be in the Community Zone.

Searching in the Community Zone

Let's search in the Community Zone and see what we find. First, we'll search for eResources title records.

eResources Title records

As we mentioned in the Inventory Model video, eResources records are structured differently than physical materials records in Alma. Specifically, the bib records for eResources are maintained by Ex Libris and are shared to all Alma users through the Community Zone. Local institutions link their electronic collections to these shared records, making it easy for eResource title records to be updated continuously by Ex Libris for all Alma institutions.

If I search using the Electronic Titles search type, I will get results for both Harvard-owned eResources and results that exist only in the Community Zone, which can be helpful for collection development. I will search by Subjects and anthropology, and I will switch to the Community Zone.

When our search results come up, we can tell which titles are owned by Harvard by the color and type of icon next to them in the Community Zone list of results.

  • If there is a blue house, that title is owned by Harvard and is active.
  • If the house were gray, it would be owned by Harvard but not active.
  • If there’s no house, then Harvard doesn’t own that title at all.

Now, up above, notice the two tabs in my search results. Right now, I’m looking at the Community Zone results, but if I click on the Institution tab, I’ll only see Electronic Titles that Harvard owns. Now, on this list, if there’s a blue people icon, it means that this Harvard-owned title is linked to the record in the Community Zone; and as you can see, I can click on that blue people icon to view the record in the Community Zone.

We will look more closely at eResources records in the Community Zone in the eResources video of this Searching module, as well as in a separate eResources module later in the Alma Overviews online course.

For more on the icons, click on Help for this Page from any search results page and then choose the Search Result Icons header from the table of contents on the right; you'll see a list of all icons that you might see in Alma search results.

Authority records

The second type of records available through the Community zone are Authority records. You cannot edit authority records in Alma, but you can use them to verify information and confirm that an authority record exists, or to see all bibliographic records related to an authority record.

To search for an Authority record, choose Authorities as your search type in the persistent search bar, choose the criteria you want to search on, and then type in your search term. Notice that Alma will retrieve any authority records related to that search term: in this case, all name, series, and subject authority records that mention George Orwell.

There are two facets on the left: Heading Usage and Vocabulary.

If I click on the title for any result, I will view the MARC record information for that authority record.

To find all of the bib records related to any particular authority record, I can click on Search bibliographic records matching this value at the right of the row and it will perform the search.

If there is a See Also section in the result, I can click on any of the related terms to run a search for that authority record, such as a name authority record for George Orwell in the RAMEAU vocabulary.

Accidentally Searching in the Community Zone

So, that's how you would search the Community Zone on purpose. However, if you don’t work with either eResources or Authority records, you’ll rarely search the Community Zone. If you accidentally switch to the Community Zone during a regular search, you might be confused when your search comes up with no results! If this happens, just use the drop-down to switch back to the Institution Zone and re-run your search.

For instance, if I search for Physical Titles, and search for the subject of Anthropology and I switch to the Community Zone, my results say: “No records were found.” Now, I know that Harvard has materials on anthropology, so this makes no sense.

Remember those two tabs from our eResources titles search? Here they are again: You can just click on the Institution tab and your results list will display the Harvard-owned titles. You could also re-run your search and change the drop-down from the Community Zone to the Institution Zone and re-run it that way as well.

More About the Community Zone

For more information on the Community Zone, visit the Alma wiki and look in the eResources functional area documentation for the Introduction to the Community Zone. We will also come back to the Community zone in later eResources and Resource Management trainings.



  • No labels