NCIP | Z39.50 | ISO ILL Protocol (10160/10161)

NISO, the National Information Standards Organization, a non-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), identifies, develops, maintains, and publishes technical standards to manage information in our changing and ever-more digital environment. NISO standards apply both traditional and new technologies to the full range of information-related needs, including retrieval, re-purposing, storage, metadata, and preservation.

Founded in 1939, incorporated as a not-for-profit education association in 1983, and assuming its current name the following year, NISO draws its support from the communities it serves. The leaders of over 70 organizations in the fields of publishing, libraries, IT, and media serve as its voting members. Hundreds of experts and practitioners serve on NISO working groups, committees, and as officers of the association.

NISO recognizes that standards must reflect global needs and that our community is increasingly interconnected and international. Designated by ANSI to represent U.S. interests as the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) Technical Committee 46 on Information and Documentation. NISO also serves as the Secretariat for Subcommittee 9 on Identification and Description, with Todd Carpenter serving as the SC 9 Secretary. NISO is well positioned to bring together all interested parties, wherever they are based.


NCIP is intended to address interoperability between self-service applications and circulation applications, between and among various circulation applications, between circulation and interlibrary loan applications, and between other related applications. Vendors and products Auto-Graphics has tested with and is in production with include:

Auto-Graphics VERSO
III Polaris
ExLibris Voyager (custom-built NCIP connector)
ExLibris Aleph
III Sierra
OCLC is supported via NCIP API

NCIP, the NISO Circulation Interchange Protocol, is a technical standard developed by the National Information Standards Organization and approved by the American National Standard Institute. The standard, ANSI/NISO Z39.83, includes two parts:

  • Part 1: Protocol;
  • Part 2: Protocol Implementation.

The standard defines a computer-to-computer protocol that exchanges messages between and among computer-based library applications to enable them to perform the functions necessary to lend and borrow items, to provide controlled access to electronic resources, and to facilitate co-operative management of these functions.

Version 1 of the standard was approved in 2002, and version 2 was approved by the NISO membership in 2008.

The standard consists of 45 services. Each service consists of a message and the response to the message. The services support look up, update, and notification functions.

The standard supports several application areas, each of which has an Application Profile. The Application Profile includes only the services (i.e., messages that relate to the function.) Three application profiles were developed by the NISO Standards Committee that wrote NCIP:

  • Direct Consortial Borrowing (DCB): the exchange of user and item information between and among circulation systems. Four DCB Profiles were developed, though DCB 3 is the one most widely implemented.
  • Circulation/Interlibrary Loan Interaction: Exchange of circulation data between a library's ILL system and its own circulation system. The Borrowing CILL Profile supports the borrowing function and a second CILL Profile describes the lending functions.
  • Self-service Circulation: the exchange of circulation data between a self-check application and the local circulation system.

After the standard was approved, a fourth application profile was developed: Patron Authentication Profile, designed to exchange data to verify the identity of a patron.

In addition, several library automation companies have produced their own application profiles to describe how their ILL or ILS system uses the NCIP messages.

Application Profiles Supported
AG supports the Circulation-Interlibrary Loan (CILL) Borrowing and Lending Profiles. These profiles define the subset of messages exchanged between a library's interlibrary loan (ILL) system and its local circulation system.

The borrowing profile permits an ILL item to be checked out to the local patron. The circulation system creates a temporary bibliographic and item record, checks out the item to the patron, processes overdue and recall notices, and discharges the item when the patron has returned it.

The lending profile enables staff to check out an item on the circulation system and have the ILL request updated automatically. The circulation system manages the lending transaction, sends overdue and recall notices to ILL, and discharges the item when the loaned item has been returned.

Both profiles are designed to eliminate duplicate record-keeping, streamline functions, and reduce workload for library staff.

Messages Supported
The CILL Profiles include messages the ILL system initiates and messages the ILS system initiates. SHAREit initiates appropriate messages to the ILS, as well as responding to messages sent by the ILS.

SHAREit supports the following messages in the CILL Borrowing Profile:

  • Lookup User
  • Accept Item
  • Cancel Request Item
  • Check In Item
  • Circulation Status Updated
  • Item Checked In
  • Item Renewed
  • Item Request Cancelled
  • Item Request Updated
  • Item Requested
  • Item Updated
  • Recall Item
  • Renew Item
  • Report Circulation Status Change
  • Update Circulation Status
  • Update Item
  • Update Request Item

SHAREit supports the following messages in the CILL Lending Profile:

  • Accept Item
  • Cancel Request Item
  • Check In Item
  • Circulation Status Updated
  • Circulation Status Change Reported
  • Item Checked In
  • Item Checked Out
  • Item Renewed
  • Item Request Cancelled
  • Item Updated
  • Recall Item
  • Renew Item
  • Report Circulation Status Change
  • Request Item
  • Update Item
  • Update Request Item

ISO ILL Protocol (10160/10161)

The ISO ILL Protocol is an international standard that defines computer-to-computer communication between interlibrary loan (ILL) systems. This enables ILL systems to send and respond to ILL requests to libraries using different, Protocol-compliant, ILL systems.

The 1997 second edition was published in three parts:

  • Information and Documentation – Open Systems Interconnection – Interlibrary Loan Application Service Definition (10160)
  • Information and Documentation – Open Systems Interconnection – Interlibrary Loan Application Protocol Specification (10161)
  • Part 1: Protocol Specification (10161-1)
  • Part 2: Protocol Implementation conformance statement (PICS) proforma (10161-2)

In 2007 ISO members reaffirmed the second edition for another five years.

Messages Supported
The Protocol defines 21 services, or messages, that support the ILL workflow from the sending the initial request, to requesting a renewal, to recalling the item, to sending an overdue, to checking in the item.

SHAREit supports all services except:

  • Forward
  • Forward-Notification
  • Damaged

IPIG Profile
Only one profile exists for the ISO ILL Protocol: the Interlibrary Loan Protocol Implementors Group (IPIG) Profile for the ISO ILL Protocol. Version 3.0 was published in July 2002. An accompanying document, the IPIG Guidelines for Implementors of the IPIG Profile, provides background information for developers of ILL systems that conform to the IPIG Profile. The Guidelines are not normative, they were developed to help increase interoperability between systems.

SHAREit supports the IPIG Profile-required email (store-and-forward) communication method as well as the optional, connection-oriented TCP/IP communication service.

Links to Sources
More about ISO ILL Protocol (10160/10161)

Status of Implementation
SHAREit communicates with the following ILL systems in multiple production environments:

  • OCLC WorldCat Resource Sharing
  • OCLC Relais
  • Clio
  • OCLC ILLiad
  • Library and Archives Canada’s ILL system