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  • Creating & Updating Bib Records and Using Search Resources (Z39.50)

Creating a New Blank Bibliographic Record in Alma

  1. Open the Metadata Editor from the Alma menu: Resources >> Open Metadata Editor
  2. Create a new bib record:
    1. For a new book (BK) record, go to File >> New >> MARC21 Bibliographic. The default template is for a book bib record.
    2. For other formatsopen the template for the type of bibliographic record you need to create:
      1. In the leftmost pane, click on the Templates header to expand the section
      2. Click on the plus sign to expand the MARC21 bibliographic section, or type one or more keywords into the search box and hit Enter to filter
  3. Edit the fixed fields (LDR, 008, and others if applicable). See next section on Editing Fixed Fields). 
  4. Empty fields and subfields will be automatically deleted when you save the record
  5. Alma will automatically try to control headings. Read more below in Linking a Bibliographic Heading to an Authority Record

  6. When you're finished editing, Save and Release the new record. Go to File >> Save and Release Record (or CTRL-Alt-R).

Editing Fixed Fields 

Always use the Form Editor to edit a fixed field:

  1. Place your cursor in the field and press Control+F to open the form and make your edits
  2. Click Esc to close the form or navigate to different field 
  3. When viewing a fixed field (outside the Form Editor), a hash represents a space. It is stored in the database as a space. The hash is for visual purposes.

Importing Records Using Search Resources (Z39.50 targets) 

Numerous outside databases can be searched from within Alma using the Search Resources feature. Harvard has enabled a limited number of databases available through Ex Libris. To have more sources enabled for your use in the Metadata Editor, contact LTS.

Note: Do not remove subfield zero ($$0) from imported records. This field is used for linked data.

Importing a Record - No Existing Record in Alma

  1. Open Search Resources
    • From the Alma persistent menu: Resources >> Cataloging >> Search Resources
    • From the Metadata Editor: Tools >> Search Resources

  2. Choose a profile:
    • Some profiles contain only a single target, such as NLM
    • Other profiles are a combination of targets, and will search each in succession. 
      • If results are found from the first target, the other targets will not be searched until you click on their heading.  
    • When using WorldCat as the data source, best practice is to search using the Connexion client due to its advanced capabilities, such as being ability to limit by language of cataloging. 
      • When choosing a record in Connexion, copy its OCLC number and paste it into the Alma search form in the System Number field
  3. Fill in the search form:
    • If you use the System Number field, all other fields in the form will be ignored
    • For keyword searches, change the default "contains phrase" search to "contains keywords" for best results. (We have requested that Ex Libris change the default). 
    • Click Search
  4. From the results:
    • If needed, click Refine Search to edit the search form and re-run the search
    • Click on a title or click View to see the record and either:
      • Go back to results to view other records
      • Choose Import and Execute to bring in the record
    •  Once you choose ImportAlma will bring the record in to the Metadata Editor as a draft. It must be saved to be added to the catalog, even if you don't edit it. 

Pre-Ordering Searching

We have configured a profile for HVD+OCLC+LOC, which will first search our Alma database, then OCLC, then LOC. This profile can be used for pre-ordering searching, as a way of verifying whether we have a bib record already. This target works best with identifiers such as ISBN, or limited "contains keywords" searches (e.g. use only keywords from the 245 subfield a when searching by title).

When using this method, if we DO have a title, do not use the Import option as that will create a duplicate. Instead, find the record in Alma and order from there:

  1. View the record in the Metadata Editor and copy the MMS ID
  2. Go to the persistent search bar at the top of the page, choose All Titles as the search type and MMS ID as the criterion, paste in the MMSID, and click search
  3. Place your order, or other activity.

If you do accidentally import the record, Alma will add an invalid field to the record to let you know a mistake was made and will provide instructions on how to remedy it.

Bringing in an Updated Copy for an Existing Record

  1. (warning) To ensure Harvard holdings end up on the correct WorldCat record, please make sure that you are familiar with OCLC Data Sync: Maintaining Holdings in WorldCat: September, 2022-
  2. Find the existing Alma record that you want to enhance and open it in the Metadata Editor
  3. Go to Tools >> Search Resources
    • Alma will default to the last cataloging profile you searched
    • The boxes in the search form will be autofilled with data from your record
      • The 035 of the Bib record will autofill the System Number field
        • When the System Number field is populated, all other fields in the form will be disregarded when the search is conducted. Only that number will be used for searching
        • If the Bib 035 starts with (OCoLC), the OCLC number will populate the form
        • If the Bib 035 starts with any other value, a non-OCLC number will be used. DELETE this value from the form or your search may not work as expected
      • Title and Author searches work best when you change "Contains phrase" to "Keyword." (We have asked Ex Libris to change the default). Omit initial articles. 
    • When using WorldCat as the data source, best practice is to search using the Connexion client due to its advanced capabilities, such as being ability to limit by language of cataloging.
      • When choosing a record in Connexion, copy its OCLC number and paste it into the Alma search form in the System Number field
  4. Click Search
  5. After selecting the record you wish to use:
    • If you wish, use Merge Preview to see the merged record in advance
    • Choose Copy & Merge to update the existing Alma record with the new record, while preserving local data
      • Copy & Merge removes the 998 field in the original record if present and makes it eligible for future OCLC overlays if it is a monograph
      • Exception for serials: 998 No-Overlay fields are added to serial records via a normalization rule.
    • Do not choose the other options. If you do, you will lose local data in the Alma record
    • Alma automatically saves the new record when you use the Copy & Merge option
  6. Remember, if you make a mistake, all previous versions of bib records in Alma are preserved and can be restored

Split / Corrupted 505 or 520 Fields

For large 505 or 520 fields, bringing in a record via External Resources will split the fields. To avoid this, you can begin in Connexion and use F5 to export from Connexion to Alma. Make sure the Alma record has the right OCLC number and that you do not have it open in the Metadata Editor. This will be especially useful when the large 505/520 are paired with non-Latin fields, as the field-splitting may inadvertently unpair the fields. 

There are also some diacritics that cause similar issues in long 505/520 notes. Use the Connexion F5 solution for this problem as well. 

Large 505 With Non-Latin Pair in Alma, brought in using Connexion F5


 The same record brought in through Search Resources in the Metadata Editor. Notice the split and unpaired fields.


About Search Resources Results

Search results are returned in paragraph format, with some additional data elements such as original creator of the record (the Record Source in the example image below). The records can be viewed or imported directly from the results.
the "Held By Me" line should be ignored; it does not accurately reflect individual Harvard library holdings.

Linking a Bibliographic Heading to an Authority Record 

Place the cursor in the bib field to be linked and press F3. 





If you type additional text in the control field, click the magnifying glass icon or press Enter to refresh your authority headings list.

Press the Select button for the desired authority heading to link it to the bibliographical record. This will return you to the bibliographic record.

To return to the bibliographic record without selecting a heading, click Cancel.

Punctuation in authority headings:

  • Alma deletes the final period on a bibliographic heading to match the authority record. There is no need to re-add the period. 
  • When a relationship designator is present, Alma will delete the comma before $e when you link the heading. There is no need to re-add it.


Free-Floating Subdivisions 

When you save a record with a subject heading that has a free-floating subdivision, the main part of the heading will still link to the correct authority record. If you are using F3 though, and the entire string does not match an authority record, you will see "Your entry would be here" in the list:   



If you click Cancel and then Save the record, the heading will still link to the correct authority. Alternatively, you can remove the free-floating subdivision, hit Enter to refresh the list, then Select the correct heading. You can then re-add the subdivision. 



Authority Expand Feature from F3 

After you have hit F3 from a bib heading and you are taken to the list of LC headings, an Expand button is available in the upper right. This will add additional information to each line item to help you disambiguate entries.  

  • If the term in the list is non-preferred, using Expand will show you the preferred term.  
  • If the term in the list is preferred, using Expand will add these data points from the authority record: 
    • 372 $a
    • 374 $a
  • We can configure additional data points if desired. Contact LTS to do so. Unfortunately it is not possible to add punctuation between multiple subfield a's. 

Example of what you see before and after you hit Expand: 

 Before .   After


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