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CUNY Aleph Catalog Optimization Projects: Overview

Recommended Timeline


Holdings & Items Linking

June 26, 2020 - Phase 3: Correct holdings which are missing 852 $b & $c subfields.

Items Without Collection Codes

Each month – On the 4th of every month, review unassigned_items to assign collection codes to items temporarily assigned to UNKWN collection. (Done monthly, your list stays small.)

Closing Inactive Subscriptions

January 30, 2020 – Close inactive subscriptions that were left open in Aleph.

Holdings & Items Linking

December 31, 2019 – Phase 1: Fix holdings records identified as not linked to items.

March 01, 2020 – Phase 2: Link items to a holdings record which matches the item's permanent location.

Open Hours

April 1, 2020 – Enter Open Hours in Aleph.

Local Fields

April 30, 2020 – Verify and keep institution specific notes in local (59X) fields.


Suppressed Records Clean-Up

April 15, 2019 – Phase 1: Identify and unsuppress records of active items.

July 1, 2019 – Phases 2 & 3: Confirm records of inactive items and determine records should be removed or kept in Aleph.

P&E Records

May 1, 2019 – Print holdings to attach to print records; electronic holdings to attach to electronic records.

Acquisitions & Serials

July 1, 2019 – Close inactive PO records for serials.

Collection Code & Circ Policy Sync

July 1, 2019 – Add at least one item to each new collection.

December 15th, 2019 – Access Services staff should conduct a quality control review.

January 1, 2020 – Technical Services staff should edit new collection holdings records. 

Duplicate Holdings Records

November 1, 2019 – Merge multiple copies of the same title from multiple holdings (in the same location/collection) into one single holdings record.



This LibGuide brings together various catalog optimization projects related to the CUNY Aleph system. The purpose is to revise/enhance records (bibliographic, holdings, item and order records) identified that would otherwise impede future system migrations or add unwanted workloads to post-migration workflows. Records that have been enhanced will also help improve the quality of the CUNY online catalog, facilitating intuitive public access to library resources. Each project page includes project descriptions and instructions. Some projects include Aleph system reports generated for each CUNY institution to facilitate cleanup tasks. For projects that have no Aleph system reports posted, instructions have been provided to retrieve institutional project reports on Aleph Task Manager. We encourage libraries to work on the projects in parallel.

Projects (Priority Order)

Suppressed Records Clean-Up – The project is to investigate bibliographic records that are suppressed in Aleph and also identify any that need additional intervention. Some are active items that have been unintentionally suppressed in Aleph, but should be made available for patrons and OCLC reclamation. Other titles need to be either removed, or preserved. It is permissible to preserve suppressed records for migration (with a bib, holdings, and item record) for historical purposes. This project is closely tied to OCLC reclamation as only active records will be retrieved for reclamation. The reclamation project (for all 24 CUNY campuses) needs to be finished by December 2019 to be ready for the system migration.

P&E Records – The project is to ensure electronic holdings are accurately migrated to the new system as electronic records. For this to happen, in our Aleph database, the format (e.g., physical) of the bibliographic record should match the format of the holding. It should be a one-to-one relationship (i.e., print bib – print holdings; electronic bib – electronic holdings). For physical and electronic resources, it is not permissible to have a bibliographic record attached with multiple holdings representing both physical and electronic formats.

Acquisitions & Serials – In order to migrate only current, accurate information, it is necessary to close orders and subscriptions for titles that are no longer received. These records may need other corrections such as frequency of issue.

Collection Code & Circulation Policy Synchronization – In Alma, collections are groups of items in the same location that generally circulate in the same way. Collections that require multiple circulation policies should be divided before migration in order to preserve circulation policies.

Duplicate Holdings Records – The new LSP prohibits duplicate holdings (multiple holdings with same location and call number). The project is to merge multiple copies of the same title (in the same location/collection) into unique holdings records. This is a one (holding)-to-many (copies) relationship.

Holdings & Items Linking – Holdings and items can be unlinked for a variety of reasons. Technical Services staff will be making corrections to link item and holdings records. The vendor requires that holdings records have at least an 852 $b & $c subfield which matches an item's permanent location.

Local Fields – This project is to identify and verify institution-specific notes and keep those data elements in local fields (59X fields). This is to facilitate migration. Those fields will be migrated to institution zones and not shared with other CUNY institutions.

Closing Inactive Subscriptions – Subscriptions that were canceled with the vendor—and whose orders may have been closed in Aleph—but were left open and active in Aleph need to be closed prior to our migration to Alma, as they will be migrated as active subscriptions to the LSP.

Open Hours – In July 2020, we will enter a "technical freeze" period of the migration, when our Aleph data will be extracted and converted to a format readable by Alma. We will not be able to enter new data into Aleph, including loans changes. During this transition period, we will not generate courtesy or overdue notices. To prevent frustration for patrons, we recommend reviewing and amending your Open Hours in Aleph three to six months in advance of our migration. (Materials are never due when a library is listed as closed in Aleph.)

Items Without Collection Codes – Items found without Collection Codes and Aleph sub-libraries will not be migrated, as stated in writing by the vendor. These items should be corrected each month, and we encourage libraries to review any discernible patterns to improve workflows and better train staff.


If you have questions about any of the tasks or projects outlined in this guide, please contact:

To request reports or batch processes, please email the CUNY Service Desk at to open a work order.