MnPALS logoAs a member of MnPALS, you join library staff members at 57 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

PALS (Program for Automated Library Systems) is the 13-member library technology systems, support, and training team for MnPALS. 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.



ACAG Alma Consortia Advocacy 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
    • 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
  • 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 approves 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
  • Interest Groups: 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


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 at a specific point in time; can use the MnPALS Booking interface or Alma/Primo VE 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. This guide is built using SubjectsPlus.

Other Important Terms

  • Minnesota State - State-wide system of 37 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
  • 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
  • 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


The graphic linked in the left panel represents the MnPALS governance structure. Created when PALS first started developing its own software (circa 1979), this model is a true participation model where voices are heard at several levels before making modifications and enhancements to the integrated library system (ILS). Over the years, we've moved to a vendor-supplied ILS that doesn't require the level of member guidance of software development represented by this structure. Recently, the discussion has begun about what a new governance model might look like. Conversations are currently underway and changes may be coming soon.
  • The structure is largely hierarchical.
  • Every library has one representative from their leadership on the Deans, Directors, and Coordinators (DDC).
  • The Executive Committee is made up of a representative body of DDC members and is the active governing body of MnPALS.These positions are weighted by the number of libraries in a particular category (state universities, private colleges/universities, state agencies, 2-year colleges).
  • The User Council is made up of the chairs of the steering committees for the user groups listed in the graphic. One representative of the User Council serves on the Executive Committee.
  • The User Groups are made up of interested users of different ILS and library functions. Each User Group has a steering committee that ideally is representative of each library type. In recent years, some User Groups have decided to waive that requirement and elect at-large members when a representative of a certain library type can't be found.
Not represented on the graphic are Task Forces (appointed by the Executive Committee), Working Groups (informal bodies that come together around a particular project and are limited to that one project), and Interest Groups (informal bodies that come together to explore topics of interest for professional development purposes.)

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)


Islandora product page 
    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 guide is an example of a SubjectsPlus implementation designed and managed by PALS

Documentation provided and maintained by the community


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 currently relies almost entirely on email, so the two main ways of getting involved are as follows:

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) 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.

*Note: the governance structure recently changed and more work is being done to establish membership in the groups listed below. For now, if you are interested in participating in a policy group, contact Johnna Horton and she will get you connected with the right people.

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

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. An example of a recently active interest group is the Futures Interest Group who gathered to discuss technology and future-looking practices coming to libraries.

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.