During the Spring meeting between the IGeLU Steering Committee and Ex Libris management, IGeLU proposed that Ex Libris send some of their Alma developers to visit IGeLU member libraries, in order to experience the variety of workflows that different institutions use . The aim was to give developers a direct experience of the work their customers do, and to highlight those functionalities which are important and must not get lost in the transition to Alma.
Ex Libris immediately agreed to this as yet another way to learn about our needs and, in early May, three groups of Alma developers / programmers went to three different European libraries – ETH Zürich in Switzerland; Nottingham Trent University in the UK; and the Free University Berlin. The developers spent a week in each library, working primarily in the acquisition and circulation departments, but also looking at all the relevant services the libraries offered.
From both sides the visit was considered as a success. As one of the developers put it: “It was a chance for us to see how the theories we know and develop are in use in real-life. … It was also interesting to meet the people working with different library aspects: circulation, E-resources, cataloging and acquisitions, and in different roles, systems, IT, etc.”
Omri Gerson, the Alma development director, praised the initiative: “I’m sure the visit contributed to [the developers] professional and personal development….We will definitely try to replicate this model and continue to send Alma development staff to different libraries.”
I accompanied the Alma developers during much of their visit to our library in Berlin, and could see how important it is for those who program a system to understand the real workflows and to experience the needs of interoperability between the systems involved. We hope that the knowledge the Ex Libris staff took home will have a positive influence on the Alma development, and the Steering Committee will definitely support the continuation of this initiative.