A whole new Library Management Platform – Alma

The current Library system (‘Voyager’) has been in place for 16 years!  It was designed to deal primarily with print-collections, like books and print journals. However, over 80% of the library materials budget is now spent on online resources and the Library has an e-preference policy which means the Library buys electronic resources if available. The Library needs to upgrade to a system with strong capabilities in resource discovery and management in order to give students and staff the best possible research experience and for the Library to be equipped for the future.

This summer (2015) the whole Library Management System is being replaced and a new resource discovery service (called ‘DiscoverEd’) is being launched.

The Library Management System is core to the workflow of Library operations from the acquisition of materials, cataloguing of metadata, and collections management, the circulation of materials (including self-issue, borrowing, returning and renewing books) and the Library Catalogue (OPAC).

The introduction of a next-generation system like Alma will allow the Library to streamline its services and processes, provide better information on resources available, be able to make changes and updates more quickly and develop new and better services for readers.

The Library will be using Primo for DiscoverEd, but “Primo” is just the product name. Primo is already used in a large number of university and research libraries in the UK and worldwide, e.g. University of York, University of Oxford, University of Manchester, Princeton University, the Getty Research Institute and the British Library.

Primo is provided by Ex Libris and it was after a successful and rigorous tendering process in 2014 that the Library selected both the Primo discovery system and the Alma library management platform. Primo and Alma scored notably higher than rival systems in the tendering process and the Library is confident that it has selected a solution which will both meet current user needs and equip the Library to deal with future developments.


DiscoverEd, the new ‘library search’, will combine the functionality of the Library Catalogue and Searcher into one single search tool and help readers quickly and easily search across many of the collections (both in print and online). It will assist the Library in exposing the richness of the wonderful collections and engage users with an up-to-date discovery and delivery experience.


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  • Except where indicated, all images were created by the Digital Imaging Unit, Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Library and are © The University of Edinburgh.