MnPALS logoAs a member of the Consortium of MnPALS Libraries (MnPALS), you join library staff members at 53 libraries throughout the state of Minnesota. We gather in person and virtually to share knowledge and network with colleagues, primarily around the use of our shared integrated library system (ILS), Ex Libris’s Alma/Primo VE. 

This guide is intended to serve as a resource for you, not only now as you get familiar with MnPALS and the PALS office, but also as you get more comfortable in your role and are looking to expand your understanding. Please refer to the Table of Contents on the left to navigate to a particular topic.

PALS Office

I'm Johnna Horton, the Executive Director of PALS. PALS (Program for Automated Library Systems) is the 13-member library technology systems, support, and training team for the MnPALS libraries. Organizationally, we are a part of the system of Minnesota State colleges and universities, but we support all our members equally. Our office is a member of the Consortium and manages the ILS contract and provides ILS support and training.  

Support Center account

PALS uses customer relationship management (CRM) software called the PALS Support Center to track support requests, host documentation, and publish articles in a knowledge base. The CRM software has both a web-based end-user interface for our customers as well as a web-based agent interface for the PALS staff. The software allows us to efficiently route your support requests to the appropriate PALS staff and to publish answers to frequently asked support questions. 

Create an account in the PALS Support Center


If you have questions about this guide or anything related to it, please either submit a Support Center ticket or email Johnna Horton.



ACFG Alma Consortia Focus Group
CDI Central Discovery Index
ELUNA Ex Libris Users of North America
ERM Electronic Resource Management
ILS Integrated Library System
IPEDS The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
PALS Program for Automated Library Systems
RS Resource Sharing
UMWUG Upper Midwest User Group

Consortium Terms

  • MnPALS - aka The Consortium of MnPALS Libraries, a network of academic and state agency libraries that use a shared ILS
  • PALS - The Minnesota State organization that supports the MnPALS libraries and is also a member of the Consortium
  • Support Center - The help desk system used by PALS to support the MnPALS libraries
    • PALS uses customer relationship management (CRM) software to track support requests, host documentation, and publish articles in a knowledge base. The web-based CRM has a member portal for MnPALS members, as well as an interface for PALS staff. The software allows PALS to efficiently route support requests to the appropriate staff member and to publish articles to frequently asked support questions.
  • Courier codes - Three letter codes used by Minitex and other libraries to designate interlibrary loan shipping and delivery locations. Also OCLC codes
  • OCLC - A global library cooperative that provides shared technology services, original research, and community programs for its membership and the library community at large. Most libraries in MnPALS catalog materials using OCLC Connexion or CatExpress
  • Minitex - Our resource sharing provider. Manages deliveries of ILL materials facilitated through Minitex, both inside and outside the consortium
  • Mailing lists - Electronic mailing lists maintained by the PALS office
    • MnPALS Discuss: General mailing list for everyone in the consortium. Examples of content include job postings, changes to ILL service, questions re: best practices
    • Alma Community: Discuss questions and concerns about Alma/Primo VE with consortium members
    • Cataloging: Discuss topics specific to cataloging of materials
    • Circ-ILL: For anyone working in circulation and/or interlibrary loan
    • Islandora: For users of Islandora hosted and supported by PALS
    • Minnesota State Library Advisory Council: Used by members of Minnesota State libraries to discuss and share information that only pertains to Minnesota State libraries. The official representative for the library is the only one to receive these emails
  • Governance bodies
    • Library Leadership Group: an assembly of one leader from each member library
    • MnPALS Consortium Board (the Board): a representative body of members who approve policies, and manages the business of the consortium
  • Task Forces: Conduct defined investigations that further the mission or clarify operations of the consortium. The Board establishes Task Forces
  • Communities of Interest: Established for communication and exploration focusing on areas of common interest, which may be a product, subject specialty, or topic. Any member of a MnPALS library can form an Interest Group
  • Policy Groups: Representative groups that guide official policy creation/revision for Consortium-level concerns


Ex Libris Alma logo
For a complete Alma glossary, see Ex Libris' Online Help - Alma Glossary
  • Acquisition/Serials - The Alma functionality for managing acquisitions and serialized items. Not all MnPALS libraries use acqusitions
  • Alma - The ILS used by MnPALS. The consortium went live January 2019
  • Alma Certification - Video course and test which provides in-depth knowledge for administration of Alma
  • Analytics - Reporting tool that updates nightly from Alma. Uses Oracle infrastructure. Can save reports individually, share with others at your institution, or share with the consortium and beyond
  • Booking - Request for a physical item or space at a specific point in time; can use the MnPALS Booking interface or Alma to manage booking requests
  • Community Zone (CZ) - A shared repository for all Alma users maintained by Ex Libris. It includes authority records, bibliographic metadata, and an electronic materials knowledge base
  • Ex Libris - Company that produces the ILS we use
  • Fulfillment - Umbrella term for circulation and interlibrary loan (ILL) in Alma
  • Fulfillment Network - An agreement or relationship between two or more Alma institutions to provide fulfillment services to each others' patrons
  • Institution Zone (IZ) - Contains data specific to an insitution, such as item-specific information and local note fields
  • Network Zone (NZ) - An administrative tool to manage and distribute information to member institutions.
  • Resource Sharing - Alma's term for ILL
  • Roles - Titles applied to Alma users that give them increasing levels of privileges. Controls access to pages and functions in Alma

Primo VE

Primo logo
For a complete Primo VE glossary, see Ex Libris' Online Help - Primo VE Glossary
  • Analytics - Reporting tool that updates nightly. Uses Oracle infrastructure. Can save reports individually, share with others at your institution, or share with the consortium and beyond
  • Customization Package - Used to change the user interface by editing existing files or uploading original files. Contains CSS, HTML, images, and JavaScript
  • Primo VE - Discovery product from Ex Libris
  • Scopes (search scopes, search profile slots) - The various pre-filtered lists of search options that appear when you start typing a search (e.g. library catalog; online resources; articles)
  • Views - Settings that are related to what end users see in the user interface (such as search scopes, look and feel, and services); can create multiple views based on institution, library, campus, and user group

Other Tech

  • EZproxy - The proxy server that PALS hosts and supports for 30+ libraries
  • Link resolver - The technology that converts a logical address or metadata into the physical URL of the target data. Most often used in discovery layers to find full-text articles
  • OpenURL - Similar to a web address, but instead of referring to a website, it refers to an article, book, or other resource within a website.
  • Proxy server - Magic! Allows off-campus patrons access to licensed resources
  • SubjectsPlus - An open source research guide software hosted and supported by PALS at no cost to MnPALS members. This guide is built using SubjectsPlus.

Other Important Terms

  • Minnesota State - State-wide system of 33 public colleges and universities; all Minnesota State campus libraries are members of MnPALS (but not all MnPALS libraries are members of Minnesota State)
  • System Office - The central office of the Minnesota State system
  • ELM - aka eLibrary Minnesota; gives Minnesota residents (and students at Minnesota colleges and universities) access to magazine, journal, newspaper, and encyclopedia articles, media, including images, videos, and audio files, and other information resources through IP authentication. Hosted and maintained by Minitex
  • Minitex - Minitex is a state-funded library organization located at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. They serve the majority of libraries in the state with resource sharing and delivery services, among many other things
  • ELUNA - aka Ex Libris Users of North America; group for North American users of Ex Libris products. PALS is a consortium-level member. Other member libraries can choose to be individual members. Membership in ELUNA gives the members votes on the NERS process
  • UMWUG - The regional user group that feeds into ELUNA. UMWUG usually hosts a conference every other year
  • NERS - The process by which users have input into Ex Libris product development


Explanation of MnPALS Governance Structure

In 2021, the members of the Consortium of MnPALS Libraries (MnPALS) voted to adopt a new governance structure.
Current Governance Structure
  • The structure is built to encourage many levels of participation, ranging from informal Communities of Interest through formal MnPALS Consortium Board representation.
  • Every library has one representative from their leadership on the Library Leadership Group. This body assembles once per year, and votes on financial decisions, including the MnPALS Funding Formula, Participant Charges and contract matters.
  • The Consortium Board is made up of a representative body of consortium members, policy group conveners, and ex-officio PALS staff members. These positions are weighted by the number of libraries in a particular category (4-year+ libraries, 2-year libraries, state agencies/special libraries). The Consortium Board also serves as the Network Zone Policy Group.
  • Policy Groups require a minimum of three participants who are representative of both library type and are involved in the functional work of the particular policy group. Currently, the policy groups are: Cataloging, Circulation, Electronic Resource Management (ERM), Interlibrary Loan, and Network Zone.
  • Communities of Interest are made up of users of different ILS and library functions. These are informal bodies that meet to share information. If a topic rises to the level of requiring a policy to address a practice, this group would move that forward to the policy group that represents that work. Current Communities of Interest
Additional information about the governance structure

Graphical representation of the connections MnPALS has to other organizations

Venn diagram of MnPALS and other organizations


Alma/Primo VE

Alma/Primo VE Key Resources: documentation created and maintained by PALS support and training specialists

Don't know where to start?  Book a session with someone on the PALS staff:
Electronic Resource Management
Fulfillment and Course Reserves
Resource Management

Questions about Booking, Resource Sharing, or Analytics? Send us a support ticket.

Alma Knowledge Center (Ex Libris)
Primo VE Knowledge Center (Ex Libris)


PALS hosts, develops, and supports Islandora, an open-source digital asset management software.
    Opendora is an example of an Islandora implementation designed and managed by PALS


EZproxy (OCLC)
     PALS hosts and supports EZproxy servers for 30+ libraries in Minnesota

Documentation created by PALS for EZproxy


SubjectsPlus, an open-source application for research guides
    This MnPALS Essentials guide is an example of a SubjectsPlus implementation designed and managed by PALS

Documentation created by PALS for SubjectsPlus


MnPALS Mailing Lists


Connect with your colleagues more casually using Slack.
  • Create an account using this link: https://join.slack.com/t/mnpals/shared_invite/zt-v0pmf7zr-eq5TyX5C5c780~ewKi~c8g
  • Or, if you already have an account, go to mnpals.slack.com and add that workspace to your existing Slack
  • Join channels
  • Start chatting!
Channels that may be of interest: 
  • antiracism-resources
  • library-projects
  • remoteinstruction
  • new-to-pals
  • pets

Get involved!

Getting started in MnPALS work

How do you get involved in MnPALS? 

In a consortium the size of MnPALS, communication is important and always a work in progress. The consortium has robust discussion on email, and has recently implemented a new functionality in the PALS Support Center called Community Discussions.

1) If you are comfortable, you can sign up for the MnPALS Discuss list (links on the Connecting tab of this guide) and post an email to that list asking for someone to contact you about your area of interest.

2) Once you have an account on the PALS Support Center, you can sign in and find an area of interest in the Community Discussions area. See this video for a quick explainer

3) If you'd prefer a less public way to signal your interest, you can email Johnna Horton (johnna.horton@mnsu.edu) or another consortium colleague who can connect you with people around a certain topic.

MnPALS Consortium Board

The Board is the governing, representative body of library types in MnPALS.

The Board consists of 4 representatives from 2-year academic libraries, 4 representatives from 4-year(+) academic libraries, 2 representatives from state and special libraries, and 1 policy group representative per policy group. The PALS Executive Director and a PALS Support and Training Specialist serve as ex-officio members of the Board.

For more details about the Board and all other consortium engagement opportunities, go to the Governance Structure page at mnpals.org.

Policy Groups

Policy groups exist to create and review consortium-wide policies and recommendations that are ultimately approved by the Consortium Board. If other policy groups need to be created, members should bring that interest to their representative on the Consortium Board, which will approve or deny the request.
Current Policy Groups:
Interlibrary Loan
Network Zone (participation on this policy group is limited to MnPALS Consortium Board members)

Interest Groups

Interest groups (also called communities of practice) are informal bodies that assemble around a topic or area of interest. These are convened by anyone and can be attended by anyone. The list of current Communities of Interest is here. Each of these groups has discussion threads in the Community Discussions area.

Task Forces

Task Forces conduct defined investigations that further the mission or clarify operations of the consortium. The Board establishes Task Forces. Task Force projects are limited in scope and have a charge to accomplish.