SMS: Overview

Using SMS messages as the notification channel is now quite popular, as this has become an efficient and effective way in which to contact users. In general, the transmission of SMS notifications is based on an external SMS service provider, which handles the actual SMS message delivery. Alma’s role is to identify the need to text the patron and produce a message with the required information in the format defined by the institution. Alma places the required information at a configured FTP location for the service provider to collect and subsequently deliver to the patron. This is illustrated in the following diagram:

SMS messages will be sent only to users that have preferred SMS numbers.

SMS communication is currently enabled only for the following letters:

  • Item on Hold Shelf
  • Change Due Date
  •  Request Cancellation
  • Lost Loan
  • Lost Loan Notification
  • Borrowing Activity
Note that webhooks may be a preferable solution for sending SMS messages. For more information see Webhooks.

To configure SMS communication with patrons:

  1. Configure an S/FTP connection to be used by Alma and the SMS service provider (see Configuring S/FTP Definitions in the Alma Administration Guide).
  2. Ensure that the S/FTP connection you configured is defined as an allowed S/FTP connection for your institution (see Configuring Allowed S/FTP Connections in the Alma Administration Guide).
  3. Configure an SMS type of integration profile (see below).
  4. Ensure that the SMS channel of notification is activated (see below).
  5. Define the format of the notification (see below).

NOTE: It is also recommended that you test your S/FTP connection by clicking the Test FTP button. You should receive messages indicating that the FTP upload, download, and delete were successful. If you did not receive such messages, resolve your S/FTP connection issues before continuing.

To define the format of the notification:

On the General Configuration page (Administration > General Configuration > Configuration Menu), click Customize Letters under General Configuration. The Configuration Files page opens, displaying the XSL files for all the letters.

Select the SMS Ful Place On Hold Shelf Letter, ../xsl/letters/sms/ SmsFulPlaceOnHoldShelfLetter.xsl, and click Customize. This file defines the format in which the SMS message is created by Alma. By default, Alma contains a format that matches a specific SMS service provider. Verify the required format with your institution’s service provider and customize the XSL file accordingly. For details on customizing XSL, see Customizing Letters in the Alma Administration Guide.

For example, the following XSL creates a message that can easily be used by the SMS service provider. It creates the following two elements:

  • The phone number to which the message should be delivered
  • The message that should be delivered

The XSL uses labels (with the prefix and suffix of @@) from the SMS On Hold Shelf Letter code table (under Administration > General Configuration > Configuration Menu > Letter Emails > SMS On Hold Shelf Letter):

<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="">

<xsl:template match="/">


<xsl:value-of select="notification_data/receivers/sms_receiver/phone_list_str" />

", "@@following_item_requested_on@@

<xsl:value-of select="notification_data/request/create_date" />

, @@can_picked_at@@

<xsl:value-of select="notification_data/request/assigned_unit_name" />




The following is an example of the message that is then placed at the defined FTP location:

"7185559898", "The following item, which you requested on 07/ 21/2012, can be picked up at Main Library Circulation Desk."