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NCIP Basics






The NISO Z39.83 – 2002 Circulation Interchange (NCIP) allows a new level of ILL to local circulation system integration. Resource sharing is able to move beyond just sending messages between ILL departments at libraries, to communicating directly with the local circulation system to determine status of materials, status of patrons, place holds on materials, etc.  NRE/VDX takes advantage of this protocol by allowing a level of flexibility which accommodates the state of automation within each local library. 

The NCIP Protocol

The NCIP protocol is a NISO standard currently consisting of two main parts, the Protocol, the Protocol Implementation Profile.  There are also eight Application Profiles which are non-normative and serve as suggested guidelines only.  The continued automation of resource sharing is accomplished through application profiles related to circulation / interlibrary loan interaction and direct consortial borrowing.  By adding NCIP interactions to its already state of the art ISO ILL protocol support, NRE/VDX can offer the greatest level of automation for

resource sharing with full consideration for each local system’s abilities and policies.


Note: NRE/VDX initiates NCIP messages to the ILS.  When a message is sent to the ILS it is up to the ILS to interpret the NCIP message and do what is required.  Remember NRE/VDX does not have access to the ILS policies/system, if there is a problem on the ILS side you will need to contact your vendor support for the ILS. 


NCIP Services integrated to NRE/VDX


The following NCIP services will be employed by NRE/VDX.



Use within NRE/VDX

Lookup User

This service requests data about a particular User known to the responding application. The initiator provides the unique Id of the User and a list of elements for which data is requested.

As an authentication method.

Request Item

This service requests that the responding application place a request on an Item for a User whether or not the Item is immediately available. The initiating application indicates the type of request being made.

Enables NRE/VDX to request a lending library place a hold on an item so a patron may pick it up directly at the lending library.

Check out Item

This service requests that the responding application check out an Item to a User.

Enables NRE/VDX to request the lending library circulation system check out the item to the borrowing library when it is shipped.

Check in Item

This service requests that the responding application check in an Item.

Enables NRE/VDX to request the lending library circulation system check in the library when it is checked in at the ILL desk.

Accept Item

This service requests that the responding application accept an Item to be circulated to a User. The initiation message identifies the action the responding agency is requested to take when it receives the item. The request may include a date by which the initiating application requires the Item to be returned. The responding application normally creates a temporary bib record, item record and then places a hold on the temporary item.

This allows the borrowing library to manage circulation of the remote item on the local circulation system on behalf of the user.


Staff Work-flow

By using the NCIP protocol for circulation interaction, NRE/VDX is able to reduce staff effort for resource sharing between borrowing and lending libraries.


Borrowing Library

NRE/VDX benefits borrowing libraries in its ability to determine the appropriate protocol based on what type of request the patron has made and the remote system it will be speaking to.  One of the major benefits NCIP brings to the borrowing library is seamless circulation of remotely obtained items to local patrons.  When an item arrives at the borrowing library and is updated by staff to Received status, NRE/VDX alerts the local circulation system so it can prepare to circulate the item to the patron.



Now the patron can check out the item on the borrowing library’s circulation system, allowing both the patron and the library to seamlessly control all materials on loan in one location.  When the patron returns the item to the borrowing library, staff can do a single point check in and return to the lending library.




Lending Library

The lending library also gains several benefits with NCIP integration into NRE/VDX. 


When a request comes to a potential lending library for an item, NRE/VDX can check if the item is available and automatically send an NCIP Request Item to the circulation system.  This will enable staff to have one pick list for both local holds and remotely requested items.



When the item is shipped by staff to the borrowing library, NRE/VDX will both ship to the borrowing library and ask the lending library circulation system to check the item out.  This occurs as follows: staff changes status to Shipped, NRE/VDX sends NCIP Check Out Item and waits for response with due date, due date is inserted in ISO ILL shipped message and sent to borrowing library.



The transaction cycle can be completed when the item is returned from the borrowing library.  Staff checks the item in via NRE/VDX which alerts both the borrowing library the returned materials have been received and requests the lending library circulation system to check the item in.




All of these services are optional at each step for each library using the NRE/VDX system.


NCIP Issues

The will be times that the ILS may be off-line or for some reason not be able to process the NCIP message. When this happens the ILS will respond with a message that can be viewed in NRE/VDX. Request that have problems will be displayed in one of these two queues, Circulation Queue or Staff Review.


If you do not see these two queues in your work queue you may have removed them. You can add them back in by clicking on the ‘Edit Work Queue” link at the top left hand side of the Work Queue page to add them back in. If you do not see them please use the “Report a Problem” link to ask for them to be displayed.


Section of Work Queue displaying Staff Review and Circulation Queue.



Circulation Queue

When NRE/VDX is waiting for the NCIP message to be sent to the ILS you will find it in the “Circulation Queue”.  The request will wait here until the back-endprocess send it to your ILS. If the request was sent and receive a response it will be removed from this queue.  If the NRE/VDX can’t connect to your NCIP server it will retry a couple times every 2 minutes, after that it will retry once an hour. As long as the request is in the “Circulation Queue” it will not be available to action, meaning the action button will not be displayed. Once your NCIP server is back on-line the request will be processed.


Note:  If you restart your NCIP server during the day, please notify NRE/VDX support. There are times that the back-end NRE/VDX process will need to be restarted also.

Staff Review

When a NCIP message fails the ILS will send a reason for the failure. To view the NCIP error you can click on the text “Staff Review” or the Number.  You will be presented with a brief details page listing all the request that are in “Check Error”.


Click the “Details” link for that request to see the request details. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the “NCIP Messages” section. You will see a list of log messages for the request that looks something like this:



In the example above, the “Received” action could not be completed because “Failed to perform circ action Circulate Requested Item because Cannot Accept Item: AcceptItem =”.


As you can see some messages do not make much sense. In this case you will need to ask the vendor to check their logs to tell you why you received this error. 


Here is a list of common problems:



NRE/VDX Action

Common Problems that prevent a successful message

Check out Item


Invalid/blocked intuitional barcode: Verify that barcode that is used to check out the item to the library is still valid.

If you use one barcode for all libraries, verify that there are no blocks on the barcode

If you assign a barcode to each library and the NCIP message fails, it is most likely because NRE/VDX does not have the barcode in its records. Use “report a problem” to send the request number, library name and the barcode you want to assign to it.

Accept Item


Most problems with this message revolve around the patron.

Verify that the patron barcode in NRE/VDX exist in the ILS or has not expired.

Verify that patron does not have any blocks or hit their hold limit.

Fix any issues and receive the item again.



Disable Circ Action

The “Disable Circ Action” in only displayed when a NCIP server is assigned to your library. When checked NRE/VDX will not send a NCIP message to your ILS. When checked it implies that you will manually do the actions required in your circ system to complete the processing of the action.


This is normally used when you don’t have time or can’t figure out why your ILS will not process the NCIP message successfully and you need to process the request.


The “Disable Circ Action” is found below the notes section.













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