Tech Blog

Migrating Your Digital Resources to Alma

While Alma manages the metadata and workflows related to print and electronic resources, digital resources are unique in that the objects themselves are also stored in Alma. Alma enables library staff to manage digital workflows and objects through its usercollection_external interface, hiding the complexity of cloud storage, and offers integrated resource delivery to patrons via Primo.

This post covers the essential stages of migrating digital content to Alma. It is assumed readers are familiar with Alma documentation on creating MD import profiles. It is also highly recommended to read though the Alma Digital section of this website.

Preparing Your Data


Alma supports two submission formats for loading data in bulk: MARCXML and CSV (currently mapped only to MARC21). Users can chose which format is more suitable based on, among others, the following considerations:

  • Legacy system native schema
  • Export options
  • Metadata complexity

In addition to your bib-level metadata, there is representation- and file-level metadata that you may want to include. With the exception of the file names, none of these fields are mandatory to map from your metadata – all mandatory fields can be pre-set using default values in the MD Import Profile.

  • Usage Type: Master or Derivative. Useful if you have both but want to display only one.
  • Library: The owner of the resource.
  • Label: The text that will appear as the representation’s title in the ViewIt Representation Delivery Service.
  • Public Note: Additional representation information, displayed in the ViewIt’s Representation Delivery Service.
  • Note: Notes are internal. They can be accessed by staff only, via the Resource Editor.
  • Access Rights: See below.

The file name field contains the location of your record’s file. Alma will look at the record’s 856$$u field (default for MARCXML) or file_name_n fields (CSV, non-configurable). See more about that in the ‘Files’ section below.


Your metadata records will need to reference the relevant files. Files must be uploaded to your institution’s upload directory before running the import job, and the metadata records should include a relative reference to their location. You may upload a hierarchy of folders to a single ingest folder, provided that the metadata record provides a full path from the ingest folder root (which must contain the metadata files) to the relevant files.


Thumbnails are displayed throughout the system (staff search, resource editor, viewer). You can provide thumbnails with your files as described here.


All digital content in Alma is managed in collections; these must be created prior to loading your data. Collections help you manage your content and present it to patrons in a logical and meaningful way. It is recommended to assign your titles to collections during the migration by adding a collection field to your metadata, but you can decide to address your collection management at a later time, and in the interim assign all your titles to one default “incoming” collection.
Collection assignment by metadata is done using the following fields:

Alma ID787$$wcollection_id
External System, ID787$$ocollection_externalformatted as (system)ID

If you need to create a large number of collections, consider using the collection API.

Repeat collection fields to assign to multiple collections. There is no need to provide more than one collection field per collection assignment.

​Access Rights

Digital representations can be assigned an Access Rights Policy. Like collections, these policies must be created before the import. Unlike collections, Alma currently does not offer a method to assign access rights in bulk, and it is recommended to assign polices during the import job. This can be done either by assigning the same policy to all content or by mapping a metadata field (configurable for MARCXML, rep_access_rights for CSV) containing the policy name as it appears in Alma (access rights policy names are unique).


Your metadata file and related files must be uploaded to the Upload folder for the MD import job to process. To access your Upload folder you will need to obtain your S3 key and secret. See here for information how to get these. You will then need to install an S3 client such as S3 Browser or S3 CLI to upload your content.

Once you have your credentials and installed your chosen client navigate to your upload folder and create an ingest folder as described here. No​te: You may also use the Digital Uploader to upload your files, provided that they are all in a single, flat folder.

Leave a Reply