Ordering Using the Alma Network Zone

Document status


Area coveredacquisitions, cataloging
Lead Author
Reviewed and Revised by Acquisitions Committee
Revision Date


Libraries need to make collection development and acquisitions decisions based on the most accurate and current data – a necessity even more important in the CSU's shared environment. Alma’s consortial functionalities provide real-time look into the acquisitions activities of CSU libraries. The increased transparency across the system will assist in future collection development decisions and technical services work. Bibliographic records are shared through the Community Zone (CZ) and Network Zone (NZ) but local information available via the Institutions Zone (IZ). Physical and electronic inventory can be connected to the bibliographic records and represent a single exemplar of an information resource that a campus physically has or electronically has access to. For individual campuses, inventory is managed locally in the IZ and the order records, which can also be connected to bibliographic records and inventory, are managed locally in the IZ. Ideally, inventory and order records of the Chancellor's Office and individual campuses should be visible to sister campuses within the consortium at the NZ level. For more information about Alma's data entity relationships, please refer to Ex Libris' documentation (e.g., Alma TopologiesIntroduction to the Network Zone, and Introduction to Alma Inventory).

The sophisticated linking across the different record types at different levels makes it important to prevent the creation of redundant records. A policy outlining the preferred method of linking order records to bibliographic records in the appropriate zone(s) is necessary to avoid duplication of records and support the on-going maintenance of shared records. The benefits and the impact of creating order records based on the CZ, NZ, and IZ have been considered. For the purposes of this discussion, digital resources are not considered since Alma's management and workflows of digital resources have not yet been discussed consortially.

Policy Statement

In accordance with the policy set forth by the TSWG in Working in Alma and the Network Zone, when ordering resources for campus libraries that are to be made visible in the NZ, acquisitions staff at CSU libraries should create orders linking to bibliographic records in the NZ, thereby sharing updated library inventory with the consortium. Resources that are not expected to be shared in the NZ (e.g., laptops, other in-house equipment, non-collection type of resources, resources with prohibitive licenses from sharing metadata) should not be ordered using the NZ.

Best practice recommendations

With the interest of system-wide collaboration in mind, it is best for physical and electronic resources to be linked to the NZ at the point of ordering, whenever possible.


  • Consortium and campuses can make shared collection development decisions
  • Consortium and campuses gain efficiency through shared cataloging and maintenance of bibliographic records
  • Consortium and campuses save money on bibliographic records


  • Consortial needs might be prioritized over institutional needs

Potential Real Life Examples:

Collection Development:

If bibliographic records are in the NZ (brief, full, and anywhere in between), individual campuses can see what is available in the consortium and might be able to better make collection development decisions on the fly. If hypothetically Fullerton got a book request from a student on the subject of water, Fullerton might notice that Fresno has the item and it fits better into Fresno's collection since they have a specialization in that topical area. Fullerton might be inclined to borrow the item from Fresno instead of buying their own copy.

Cataloging and Discoverability:

Sharing bibliographic records in the NZ aids cataloging and discovery. If hypothetically a campus has very little to no cataloging staff, creates a brief bibliographic record in the NZ and links the order record, another campus in the consortium buying the same item with higher cataloging capacity might get to the cataloging of the resource, saving all other campuses time in cataloging that particular item. If the initial brief bibliographic record only resides in the IZ, the campus that put the brief bibliographic record in the IZ would not know nor benefit if another campus catalogs the same item in the NZ, until they go through the backlog and find the full record in the NZ. In the meantime that campus' patrons access could have been somewhat impeded due to the low-level of discoverability the brief records offer, compared to full bibliographic records.


Sharing bibliographic records in the NZ could save money in purchasing full bibliographic records from cataloging vendors. If hypothetically Fullerton intends to buy a book from Gobi but notices a brief bibliographic record put into the NZ by San Jose. Fullerton is already aware that San Jose participates in WorldCat Cataloging Partners (WCP), which means San Jose will both pay for and receive a full bibliographic record for that resource from OCLC. Fullerton might be inclined to only order the copy of the book but opt out of requesting and paying for the same full bibliographic record from OCLC.

Procedures in Alma

As a general overview, 1) the NZ should be consulted for matching bibliographic records. If a match is found, the local Purchase Order Line (POL) should be linked to that bibliographic record. In the event that no existing bibliographic record match is found in the NZ, 2) external sources should be consulted and appropriate record brought into the NZ, then POL is linked to the NZ bibliographic record. In order to maintain a consistent and accurate NZ catalog, 3) brief bibliographic records may be created and linked to the NZ in accordance with the policy In-Process Brief Bib Records & Minimum Acquisitions Data provided no appropriate bibliographic record is already available in the NZ or via external resources.

The Ex Libris' document Ordering a Centrally Managed Electronic Resource outlines these steps, but the same principles also govern the ordering of physical resources (the reporting code field might require further review).

Action log

SectionPoint Person

Expected Completion Date

Last action takenNext action required

Articulate the need for the policy (background)


: consulted with task force on the need for policy; working draft submitted

: policy statement creation

Create a Policy Statement


Identify and create best practice recommendations


Where applicable, identify and write up procedures in Alma


: requires feedback, suggestions, comments, etc.; requires potential consolidation with ER TF policies

Need to update policy in accordance with the ERM Task Force's recommendation to prefer the CZ; discussion regarding ebook one-off ordering using the CZ still pending

Consulted Acquisitions/ERM Functional Committee. To be retained as Best PracticeLuiz Mendes 


Tasks to be completed

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