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Alma Electronic Resources Management

Working with and managing electronic resources in Alma.


Required Roles:

  • Acquisitions Administrator - Configure COUNTER subscribers and activate, deactivate, or manually run the automatic harvesting job
  • Vendor Manager - View usage data related to a particular vendor, manually harvest data for the vendor, manually upload data for the vendor, and manage any uploaded data files
  • Usage Data Operator - Manually upload or delete data for any vendor, manage the uploaded data files, and view missing COUNTER data
  • General System Administrator - Activate, deactivate, schedule, or monitor the automatic harvesting job, view the job's history, report, and events, and configure email notifications for the job

Alma does not track e-resource usage, which is why you need to load statistics from your vendor. Adding this information to Alma can help you determine cost per use and other useful information. It also makes it easier to compare usage across platforms.


  • Usage reports in Alma rely on COUNTER - compliant usage reports (Counting Online Usage of NeTworked Electronic Resources)
  • Alma is fully compliant with COUNTER Release 5
  • COUNTER 5 Report Types in Alma


  • Need to set it up in Alma to make analytics work correctly – it’s a way for Alma to organize your reports. Set it up in Config->Acquisitions->General->Subscribers
  • Usually one subscriber, per campus, but larger institutions may have more than one
  • Doesn’t have to match usernames or other vendor info

Access Providers:

  • If you're using this training guide as a whole, you've probably already set up Access providers for your content. However, if you're only interested in gathering usage data, you need to set up these providers. You do not need to set up full Acquisitions to use usage reports in Alma.
  • Set up providers in Acquisitions->Acquisitions Infrastructure
  • Edit existing OR create new Vendor (add Type, Access Provider)
  • Requires an Interface (select from CZ, or create one)

Set up SUSHI Accounts in Alma

Many vendors provide the option to automatically harvest usage data and import it into Alma through the Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative (SUSHI) protocol. SUSHI accounts are managed in the Usage Data tab of the vendor record for a given vendor or publisher.

  • To set up a new SUSHI account, click the Add SUSHI Account button, and select Release 5.

Usage Data tab of Vendor Record

  • Search for the vendor name in the SUSHI Account field. If the vendor is already set up in Alma, the Vendor URL will automatically be populated when you select the vendor. If not, you'll have to check the admin dashboard for the vendor or contact the vendor directly for the Vendor URL.
  • Enter the remaining SUSHI account information for the vendor
  • Click the Test Connection button to confirm that the account is set up correctly.

SUSHI set up section of vendor record

  • Once the account is set up and tested, click Save.
  • In the Usage Report Types section, use the Add Report Type drop down menu to select the COUNTER report to harvest using SUSHI.
  • You may choose "harvest now" to generate the report on demand. Note that this triggers a job - the data won't appear instantly.

Scheduling Harvesting:

  • Configuration Menu > Acquisitions > General > Acquisition Jobs Configuration, SUSHI harvesting job
  • Harvests COUNTER data from all active SUSHI accounts.
  • Checks whether overlapping data exists in the database.
  • File must be ready at the vendor site. Bear in mind that many vendors are slow to post usage reports from the previous month. The reports may not become available until mid-month. Best practice is to set the harvest to run on the 18th, as many vendors make their data available around the 15th.
  • Monthly vs. Weekly harvesting: most vendors produce monthly rather than weekly usage reports, so you will not get extra data by scheduling the harvester to run weekly. However, if you choose to run the report monthly, you'll have to wait an extra month to get data from the previous month if the vendor doesn't have the report ready on their end on the day that you choose to harvest. If you run the report weekly, you may not get new data week to week, but accessing the same data multiple times will not hurt anything. There is no recommended timing: it's up to each campus to decide what works best locally.
  • When Alma receives a response that the report will be available later, it automatically retries – until the maximum number of retries is reached.
  • Remember that harvested data won't show up in analytics until the next day.
  • Ex Libris documentation on managing harvesting

If your vendor does not provide the option to harvest data via SUSHI, you will need to manually upload your data into Alma prior to the end of your fiscal year. If you load them one fiscal year at a time, you can easily do your reporting on a fiscal year basis.

Manually Upload COUNTER Reports

Before starting work in Alma to manually upload COUNTER usage reports, you'll need to download COUNTER reports from vendor administrative portals. Commonly used reports are TR_J1 (replaces JR1 from COUNTER R4) and TR_B1 (replaces BR1 from COUNTER R4).

COUNTER reports are uploaded and managed through the Acquisitions, Import, Load Usage Data interface, or in the Usage Data tab of the vendor record for the given vendor or publisher.

Usage Data tab of Vendor Record

  • To upload a COUNTER report manually, navigate to the Uploaded Files section of the Usage Data page and click on the Upload File button. Alma accepts xlsx, xls, csv, tsv, ssv, txt formats.
  • Select the desired file from your computer, and click the Upload File button.
  • Alma will analyze the file and upload it to the vendor record. When complete, one will be able to see if the report was ingested properly, the report type, and dates covered by the report.

List of uploaded COUNTER reports in vendor record

  • Reports can be viewed, downloaded, or deleted using the ellipses.
  • Please note, if a report is not formatted properly to be COUNTER-compliant, Alma will reject the file. Alma only accepts COUNTER usage reports.
  • “When you manually upload a data file, the file is considered new data if several key fields are different (vendor, dates, etc), including subscriber. Uploading the same data file a second time overwrites the data from the first upload. If you change the subscriber in the data to a different, valid subscriber, the data is uploaded as new data." - Ex Libris documentation on manually uploading and deleting COUNTER data

Viewing Usage Data

There are several ways to see what usage data has been loaded in your system:

  • Go to the Usage Reports tab in your vendor in Acquisitions:

usage data tab

  • Go to Load Usage Data under Acquisitions and click the Monthly Usage Data tab:

monthly usage data

  • Note that this chart only shows results where you've had at least one successful harvest or manual load of data.

In order to see the details of each report, you need to run Alma analytics or look at the data on your originating vendor's platform.

Alma Analytics for Usage Data

Thanks to Elizabeth York at Rutgers University Libraries for this overview.

Usage Data in Analytics Best Practices:

  • Usage Data (COUNTER): Use Alma Analytics in the Usage Data (COUNTER) area to make your reports. You should be easily able to total up your stats you report annually to the library associations ARL and ACRL, and you can also make reports for specific platforms and time periods.
  • E-Inventory:
    • Don't use usage statistics in the E-Inventory subject area. Matching usage stats to inventory in Alma is an extra layer of complexity. If you want to do this, you will need to be very careful your stats are matching to the right inventory and PO Lines. In Alma, the matching happens on the "COUNTER Platform derived from Interface" field (or the local override field "COUNTER Platform") in the Electronic Collection or portfolio. That (plus ISBN or ISSN) is what matches your COUNTER data to the inventory in Alma (and to the PO Lines attached to that inventory). So, if you want to use the e-inventory area and look at cost/use, you'll need to make sure that the platform value from your COUNTER reports matches the "COUNTER Platform" value entered into the electronic inventory.
    • If you are viewing usage data in E-inventory, you will only see the usage that was able to match to e-inventory. If you have some usage stats for things that aren't in your inventory in Alma (that is, don't have portfolios and MARCs), the stats won't map to inventory in the e-inventory subject area. Also, in order for your inventory to match to the COUNTER report, both the inventory and the COUNTER report will need to have correct ISBNs or ISSNs that will match. Also, you'll want to consider that the e-inventory subject area doesn't let you view all COUNTER report types; for example, for COUNTER 5, it only includes TR_B1, TR_J1, and DR. So, I think in general, for totaling up and managing all your usage stats, Usage Data (COUNTER) is the area to use, as it includes all your stats regardless of whether they were able to match to inventory and includes more COUNTER report types.
    • The E-Inventory area is probably more useful for evaluation processes for specific resources where you know the inventory is in Alma, you've checked the COUNTER Platform field to make sure it's a match, and there are good ISBNs and ISSNs.
  • Funds Expenditure: doesn't have any usage statistics measures in it. However, there is a Funds folder in the E-Inventory subject area, so you could likely get the fund information you need in E-Inventory.

Ex Libris has some useful out of the box usage data reports. To see them, log into Alma, click on Analytics->Design Analytics and choose the Catalog from the menu bar. The out of the box reports are listed by subject area under Shared Folders->Alma.

COUNTER and SUSHI Training and Documentation