What determines the "Available," "May be available," and "Not Available" messages in Primo VE and what can we do about it?


Table of Contents:


Availability messages show because of data coming from either Alma or from the Central Discovery Index (CDI), which accounts for the variation in wording in messages like "may be available" or "check for holdings." You may change the messages in the Discovery Labels Tables, but note that any change you make will take effect across the board, for all records, not just for periodicals or other problematic collections.

Alma Data:

There are three availability statuses mapped from Alma, as described in the Ex Libris documentation on availability status mapping.

Availability statuses are determined as follows:

  1. If there are items, but none of them is available, the availability status is defined as UNAVAILABLE.
  2. If this is a serial holding (i.e. information appears in the chronI / enumA) and not all of them are available, the availability status is defined as CHECK_HOLDINGS.
  3. If there is at least one available item, the availability status is defined as AVAILABLE.
  4. Otherwise, the availability status is defined as CHECK_HOLDINGS.

"May be available" is the label for check holdings and it usually indicates Primo doesn't have enough information to determine availability (i.e., there are no item records, there are multiple copies, etc.).

Availability status is calculated by Alma per location, but Primo displays the availability based on all locations. For example, if the same serial holding exists in two locations, which have the Check holding and Available statuses respectively, Primo will display the Available status since the holding is available at one of the locations.

CDI Data:

CDI availability in the brief results list is determined by the Central Discovery Index publishing job, which runs daily. This job takes bibliographic information for any electronic content that is activated and sends it to the CDI to match on search records for that content. These records will automatically display as available in Primo. The records match on ISSN or ISBN.

The publishing job controls what's considered "full-text" in your brief results, but when a user opens a full record, or tries to use a link, a live look-up happens where Primo connects with Alma to see what's truly available and pulls in any active links. This can account for discrepancies with availability messaging in Primo.

It takes 48-72 hours for changes to electronic activation to go into effect in Primo, which can cause inconsistency in availability messages. For example, if you deactivate an electronic portfolio or collection, it can take a couple of days for those search records to stop showing as available in your full-text search. When this happens, the result will initially show as available, but when the user opens the full record or tries to use the direct link, that availability may change to not available if the live lookup can't find any portfolios that match the search record metadata.

Note that if you make a portfolio in one collection "inactive," that can impact publishing for any other portfolios that use that same bibliographic record. It's best to fully delete a portfolio if you stop receiving it from one publisher so that it doesn't impact availability for the same title in other packages.

Renaming Labels

The brief display availability labels are managed in the Calculated Availability Text Labels table and the Get It availability labels are managed in the Getit Tile Labels.

For the Calculated Availability Text Labels table, there will likely be multiple lines which need to be changed for each status. For example, for "Not Available" there are two:

Not available text

This is true for other statuses, such as "Checked out...," "Online Access," etc. The reason for this is that there are different delivery codes assigned by Primo depending on if the item is from Alma or the CDI, if the item is completely unavailable (i.e., all copies checked out) or partially unavailable (i.e., checked out by your institution but available at another institution), etc. This table covers all possibilities.


Serials/Periodicals can pose complications for availability statements.

On Order:

SUNY librarians have reported situations where some periodicals in Primo have the message "May be available" and others say "Available" and some say both. For example, in this case, "check holdings" means that some issues may not be marked as "arrived," and the "available online" indicates that there is an active electronic portfolio for this title:

Check Holdings

It's possible to suppress on order issues from displaying in VE: Excluding Resources with Specific Process Types from Publishing

Print Journal Articles

There is no easy way to get articles from within your print journal coverage dates to show up as available. This is because article search records come from the Central Discovery Index (CDI), which only matches on electronic titles that are published as available in the daily CDI publishing job. Print journals are not included in this publishing job.

When a user opens a full record for a journal, the live look up will find matches for physical journals by ISSN, but the system isn't smart enough to look at coverage dates in your print holdings to only match on journals that have coverage for the date of the article.

You could set up a local electronic collection and populate it with local portfolios for your print journals, and use a document delivery request link for each title, if you offer that service. But this is a clunky workaround and requires significant work and maintenance.

Items that are Checked Out

In the results list, materials that are checked out or in other out of library locations display the simple statement "not available," and the location area includes the statement "out of library:"

Not available example

Both labels can be changed as follows:

  • The "Not Available" label is found in Calculated Availability Text Labels. There will likely be multiple lines which need to be changed for each status.  
  • The "Out of Library" label is found in the Getit Tile Labels.   
  • Last Updated Sep 08, 2023
  • Views 4744
  • Answered By Michelle Eichelberger

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Comments (1)

  1. Hi For the last question (for Primo VE), you should also mention Broaden Availability Status, available since Nov. 2020, default setting = deactivated. https://knowledge.exlibrisgroup.com/Primo/Release_Notes/002Primo_VE/2020/010Primo_VE_2020_Release_Notes?mon=202011BASE#Features You can activate and use the labels table to streamline the messages, for example using "Not available - on loan" for several of the situations, because not all details are relevant for the patrons.
    by M Schwendener on Aug 09, 2021