About the Project

We want to keep you updated on these web pages about the progress made on the project, upcoming changes and restrictions on use, which are mainly to be expected in the run-up to the switchover.


Any major library needs a central management system to handle the acquisition, cataloguing, administration and use of its stock and electronic content.

The Bonn University and State Library (USL) has used the SISIS system for the past three decades. Although it runs reliably and meets many of the requirements of library operations, it is not designed to cope with more recent developments in areas such as e-media.

In order to establish a modern and uniform library management system in all university libraries in the state, the Ministry of Culture and Science of North-Rhine Westphalia decided in 2016 that they would all switch to a cloud-based management system.

All university libraries in NRW are members of the consortium set up to introduce the new system, which was formed in 2017. In 2019, the decision was made to opt for the Alma system, which is already being used in several libraries in Germany and Austria. The University of Bonn will make the switch to Alma in summer 2023, preparations for which have been ongoing since early 2020.

© Volker Lannert / Universität Bonn

Good to know

  • A uniform system for all university libraries opens the door to joint developments, the pooling of requirements and the harnessing of synergy effects.
  • The currently separate union catalogue is also to be transferred to Alma. In the future, library staff will be able to access details of items in the union zone directly from the University of Bonn’s system. The USL will thus use Alma to order new publications, catalogue and manage its existing stock and licenses, and run its lending and interlibrary loan services.
  • The specialist and faculty libraries will likewise use Alma for cataloguing purposes. The Library of Mathematics will also use Alma for loaning out its stock, while an initial number of departmental libraries will employ it for their new acquisitions on a pilot basis.
  • Besides the management of library holdings, Alma also focuses on administering electronic content. In the future, it will be possible to reference licensed publications in bonnus more quickly and more comprehensively.
  • Alma is workflow-based and gives staff more transparency on the status of individual processes.
  • Information on items held in both hardcopy and electronic form is submitted to the bonnus search portal (Discovery System) more or less in real time, making it available to users in the research system much faster than used to be the case.
  • The introduction of Alma will see the current data format MAB 2 (Maschinelles Austauschformat für Bibliotheken, or “machine-driven exchange format for libraries”) replaced by the international standard MARC 21 (MAchine-Readable Cataloging 21), which will make it easier to exchange data.

As well as bringing major changes to how we work internally, the switch to the new library management system will also have an impact on our services.

  • The bonnus search portal will be given a new technical basis, new features and a new look, more details of which can be found under the bonnus search portal.
  • The switchover phase (summer 2023) will see a particularly significant degree of restrictions on use (reservations, borrowing, returning, interlibrary loans), which we will tell you about in good time.
  • As there are many library staff working on the project, other tasks will have to take something of a back seat. Inquiries may potentially no longer be answered as swiftly as usual. In the event of any doubt, we would ask you to be patient.
  • The switch to a cloud-based system is a good opportunity to revise the usage regulations for the USL and the specialist and subject libraries
  • Your personal data will be stored in a private cloud and processed in compliance with the GDPR.

The introduction of Alma to the 41 university libraries is being managed centrally by the consortium’s GO:AL project (in German), on which the provider Ex Libris and the hbz—the consortium lead—are working closely together. At local level, various project teams and groups of experts are liaising continuously with the NRW project and are working on the assignments relevant to us. Example:

  • Migration of legacy data: work to cleanse data and prepare it for the new system has been ongoing for three years now. The data from the University of Bonn will be migrated to Alma in early 2023, initially on a trial basis. Some data relating to periodicals and e-media will be enriched or supplemented with information from other systems.
  • Training on Alma: so that we can make the best possible use of the system and be able to configure it ourselves further down the line, the specialists need intensive training in advance.
  • Reviewing existing processes and developing new workflows: the switch to the new system means that all existing workflows and processes for the USL and the faculty libraries have to be reviewed and revised. An assessment of business processes has already led to a great many changes before the switch has even been completed and has provided an opportunity to completely redesign the workflows in Alma.
  • Planning links with third-party systems: Alma offers numerous interfaces and thus the opportunity to exchange information largely without any breaks between systems. When the new system goes live, we will restrict ourselves to those systems that are absolutely necessary (literature search, printing systems, etc.) so as not to make the project even more complex. However, we are already tackling the issue of linking to SAP, for instance.
  • Introducing additional systems: the switch to Alma presents an opportunity to introduce additional systems such as the Primo VE research system, which is closely linked to Alma and which is to be used for bonnus in the future, and the ELi:SA shopping basket system, which is set to generate orders and order suggestions for books and send them to Alma in the future.


If you have any questions or comments about the new Alma library management system, you are welcome to email them to alma@ulb.uni-bonn.de.

Avatar Specht

Dr. Annette Specht

Project Lead
Avatar Schmitz-Reinhard

Anke Schmitz-Reinhard

Deputy project lead
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