NCIP Implementers Group Defines Core Message Set

Nine messages support major functionalities in resource sharing and self-service applications

August 5, 2009 - Baltimore, MD - NISO's NCIP Implementers Group has defined a core set of nine messages that is recommended for a minimal implementation of NCIP (ANSI/NISO Z39.83-2008, NISO Circulation Interchange Protocol, Parts 1 and 2). The NCIP standard addresses the need for interoperability among disparate circulation, interlibrary loan, and related applications.
NCIP--which was revised in 2008 to include greater extensibility and improved self-service and error handling--was conceived as a toolkit-style standard with no minimum requirement for compliance beyond the use of at least one of the 45 messages. This has led to confusion and an impression that NCIP is difficult to support. By defining a Core Message Set, the NCIP Implementers Group has provided a simple roadmap needed for a basic implementation. The group believes that the NCIP Core Messages support the majority of the current functionality for resource sharing and self-service applications. Responding applications need only implement this set of messages, which reduces the effort needed to become NCIP compliant. Initiating applications may still use additional messages, but the definition of a core set of messages will increase interoperability and enable librarians to expect support for a common baseline workflow.

The messages in the core set are: Accept Item, Cancel Request Item, Check In Item, Check Out Item, Lookup Item, Lookup User, Recall Item, Renew Item, and Request Item.

"The Core Message Set changes the future for NCIP. Instead of a huge number of messages and little commonality among implementers in the messages they've used, we now have a simpler starting point for new and current vendors," stated Gail Wanner, Chair of the Implementers Group and Resource Sharing Specialist, SirsiDynix. "Having this basic list of messages will make it much easier for librarians and vendors to begin supporting NCIP since it takes the mystery out of where to begin."

"Defining a Core Message Set is a wonderful step forward in encouraging the adoption and easing the implementation of NCIP," Todd Carpenter, NISO Managing Director, declared. "This will help to improve understanding of what is meant in the community when vendors state that their systems that are capable of exchanging information using the NCIP protocol."

The NCIP Implementers Group, which has semiannual meetings and monthly conference calls to discuss maintenance and implementation issues, is also looking to update the NCIP website with additional resources, considering a move to a continuous maintenance model, creating a checklist to identify vendors who have implemented specific messages, and aims to streamline the profile template. The NCIP Maintenance Agency is EnvisionWare, led by Rob Walsh, President.

Librarians and vendors who wish to learn more about the NCIP Implementers Group are invited to contact Gail Wanner at or visit

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