One of the major trends in the academic library technology sector has been the emergence of library services platforms. These products, especially Ex Libris Alma and OCLC WorldShare, have been marketed and implemented primarily bundled with discovery services from the same organizations, Primo and WorldCat Discovery Services. This bundling arrangement has seen some resistance, especially from vendors such as EBSCO Information Services, who seek a more flexible arrangement in which libraries can choose their preferred discovery environment regardless of which resource management system the library selects.
Ex Libris designed its Alma library services platform to use Primo as its strategic patron interface. With no built-in online catalog, all discovery and patron-related features were delivered through Primo. All implementations of Alma to date have been paired with Primo. In recent months, Ex Libris has moved to a more flexible approach.
The University of Pennsylvania libraries announced their selection of Alma in September 2016. This implementation of Alma will make use of its Blacklight-based discovery environment rather than Primo. The Penn Libraries were one of the Kuali OLE libraries, but opted not to join the FOLIO initiative. Consistent with the library's interest in open source development, using Alma with Blacklight was their preferred approach. Ex Libris has now embraced this approach, as can be seen through its sponsorship of a forum on “Open Source Discovery Layers Initiative” at the recent DLF Forum (Milwaukee, WI, November 8, 2016).
A new integration effort is also underway to enable libraries implementing Alma to use the Summon discovery service instead of Primo. Eastern Michigan University announced in November 2016 that it had selected Alma and that it would be the first library to integrate it with Summon. The Eastern Michigan University Libraries had been a development partner for the now defunct Intota library services platform from ProQuest. The library has been using Summon since 2011. This new integration will enable the library to migrate from its current Voyager ILS to Alma and maintain the user environment familiar to its patrons. This integration is consistent with the strategy announced as part of the acquisition of Ex Libris by ProQuest, which stated that both strategic discovery products from the respective companies would be continued and developed.
No specific announcements have been made for other discovery environments to be integrated with Alma.