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Changes to the Alma Reading List “Owner Subscription Letter” to Enhance Outreach

Outreach is incredibly important to us, so we wanted to use the Alma Course Reserve Reading List Owner Subscription Letter to send a functional Deep Link Brief Search Permalink to the items in the Reading List.

Several people assisted in the success of this project.  I am grateful for their help.

To achieve the desired results requires several different steps:

The first step: to figure out the Primo Brief Search Deep Link for doing a course code/section query and providing a list of  sorted results.  This was done with the help of the Deep Link documentation, and the PNX record in Primo.
Examination of the PNX record showed us that we could use the lsr02 field for the query.  Our Deep Link looks like the following (please note your link will be different than what you see displayed here, and that this link is likely no longer functional).  The critical parameters include the scope, the query field and the string being searched:,exact,GEOL+608+A&search_scope=01COLSCHL_ALMA_CR&srt=title&ct=facet&fctN=facet_tlevel

Such a link can be very helpful for instructors, as they can use it in Blackboard or send it directly to their students.

The second step is to make a series of changes to the Alma Letter itself.  This letter is generated by the Reading List creation process when the instructor is added as the owner of a Reading List (see Managing Reading List Owners and Collaborators in the Alma documentation). It is a good idea in premise, but unfortunately at the time of this writing the Link to the Reading List that it supplies to the recipient is broken and that is a problem.  A problem that needs to be solved before the Letter should be sent out.

We first went into Alma > General Configuration > Configuration Menu > Letter Emails and did some language cleanup to make the purpose of the Letter clearer to the recipient.  To do this we modified three fields as you see below:

subject = Library reserve list created
letterName = Reserve reading list in process
you_are_joined = We are preparing a Reading List for your course. Please click on the following link to get a fixed URL that will lead to the items in your reading list. You may post this URL to Blackboard or share it with your students:

Next we went into Alma > General Configuration > Configuration Menu > Customize Letters and made changes to the XML in order to: 1) clean up some unnecessary language; 2) remove the bad link; and, 3) insert our good “Permalink”

We commented out the unwanted code:

<!-- 2015-11-20  removing some of the unnecessary verbiage from the default explanation; stripping the default permalink.
     <xsl:if test="notification_data/owner/hierarchy='OWNER'"> @@as_an@@ @@owner@@</xsl:if>
     <xsl:if test="notification_data/owner/hierarchy='COLLABORATOR'"> @@as_a@@ @@collaborator@@</xsl:if>
   <xsl:if test="notification_data/owner/hierarchy='SUBSCRIBER'">@@as_a@@ @@subscriber@@</xsl:if>
    @@to@@  <xsl:value-of select="/notification_data/owner/object_display_name" />

     <xsl:when test="notification_data/perma_link!= ''">
      :   <xsl:element name="a">
       <xsl:attribute name="href">

select="/notification_data/perma_link" />

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

End text and permalink removal. -->

Then directly following the Close Comment statement above, we create the new permalink:

<!-- 2015-11-20 create a permalink to Primo that searches for the course by reading list NAME.  Best practice will
be for reading list name to match the course code for this to work. -->

<xsl:param name="courseCode"><xsl:value-of select="/notification_data/owner_object_name" /></xsl:param>
  <a href=",exact,{$courseCode}"><xsl:value-of select="/notification_data/owner_object_name" /></a>
<!-- End Permalink creation -->

Directly following the above Close Comment statement we added some additional language as the link likely won’t be functional immediately:

      Note that it may take a few days for the link to retrieve results.

It is very important to note that in order for the Permalink to work, and as the XML comment above states, Best Practice will be for reading list name to match the course code.

To be absolutely clear about this:

When creating a reading list, BOTH the reading list code and reading list name must match the course code and section.

The following format will work:

Course code: ENGR 202
Course section: A
Reading list code: ENGR 202.A
Reading list name: ENGR 202.A

Lastly, to trigger this once you have gone through the steps described above:  When creating the reading list, the reserves operator should add the instructor as an owner on the course and select the “send email” option, which will trigger the notification automatically.

At its most basic level, this notification confirms to the instructor that their request is being processed.  While doing so, it increases the visibility of reserves in Primo (in addition to the physical reserves location instructors may be focused on).  It also has benefit of providing a deep link directly to their courses that they can disseminate however they’d like, including by posting into a learning management system.

Here’s a test example of the Letter sent to the Instructor:

I have a new version of the permalink that works with the new Primo UI:

<xsl:param name="courseCode"><xsl:value-of select="/notification_data/owner_object_name" /></xsl:param>

              <a href=";lang=en_US&amp;tab=01colschl_alma_cr&amp;query=lsr02,exact,{$courseCode}&amp;search_scope=01COLSCHL_ALMA_CR&amp;sortby=title"><xsl:value-of select="/notification_data/owner_object_name" /></a>

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