This session was subtitled “E-Commerce, Self-Service, Bindery, ILL, Statistics – New Applications for the NCIP Protocol”, and as the session began attendees got an answer to the question posed by the title, as presenter Ted Koppel of Ex Libris admitted that new applications for NCIP have not been as plentiful as was anticipated, so the presentation has been re-focused to include a section on how the NCIP standards process is working, and those bindery, statistics and e-commerce applications went missing. So I guess the question in the title has been answered: there are some things it can’t do (yet!).
The presentation came in four parts three parts, with Ted’s introduction, Candy Zemon addressing problems and proposed solutions with NCIP, Jennifer Pearson describing an example of OCLC’s use of NCIP, and Candy Zemon, this time filling in for an absent Gail Wanner, previewing a browser plug-in being developed as part of the â€œRethinking Resource Sharing Initiative”.
Candy Zemon of Polaris presented on â€œNCIP: Growing painsâ€, describing the protocol and how it came to be and also helped explain why the session had to be rejiggered.
NCIP (the NISO circulation interchange protocol, also known as Z39.83), was intended to help establish communications between disparate systems for use in Direct Consortial Lending (DCL), circulation ILL and self service circulation systems. Today, NCIP is an established standard up for a regular review soon.
The question presents itself- why has not this useful standard seen more success? First, NCIP is invisible to the user (when it works!). In many cases, it does what 3M’s SIP or SIP2 do.
While there have been many pilot projects, current uses for NCIP include bindery, self-check, self-sorters, and self-service finance.
The NCIP Implementers Group met to review how problems and perceived problems with the protocol problems, and plan ways to solve them. In part, NCIP came to be used in ways not originally intended, finding fewer of the new applications Ted mentioned in the introduction, and more use in self service circulation and self-sort situations (perhaps because of difficulties with the rather loosely maintained 3M SIP protocols). The sense was that NCIP was too complex for some of these uses. The solutions proposed include making the messages smaller, with fewer mandatory messages, and the the removal of some message elements in situations where a trust relationship between the communicating systems was already established.
Documentation was also felt to be a problem, and the existing documentation will be reorganized and additional documents will be created, including more targeted guides for specific uses, and some â€œWhy use NCIPâ€ guides.
Confusion has been caused by the overlap in functionality between the DCB (direct consortial borrowing) and C/ILL (circulation/inter library loan) profiles in NCIP. The solution: harmonize these profiles.
It was felt that NCIP needs greater extensibility, a major part of the appeal of the 3M SIP protocols. NCIP may incorporate the XML tag.
As NCIP has found increasing use in self service situations, bandwidth concerns have emerged. The solution will be to add the ability to batch or list in messages, as well as reduce the overhead in trusted partner situations.
Finally, a number of bugs are still outstanding. The solution: fix ‘em!
Jennifer Pearson of OCLC described the use of NCIP in OCLC’s Worldcat Resource Sharing program.
OCLC is seeking broaden resource sharing from simply library-initiated â€œinter library loanâ€ to patron-initiated â€œfulfillmentâ€ (i.e. to include purchase options). The hope is to keep libraries in the game in this Age of Amazon, and to keep OCLC in the game as a central, “neutral broker” of the whole process.
Authenticated and validated through NCIP, patrons could have borrowing capabilities from home (that might include home delivery), including purchase options, with all the disparate systems involved in such a process tied together through NCIP.
OCLC is working to make NCIP management less complex by serving as central broker and thus, fewer point to point setups are needed.
OCLC is currently partnering with SirsiDynix, Polaris, and a group of Montana libraries. Work with TLC and Carl are expected to start later. The system may debut in next calendar year.
Candy Zemon, stepping in for original presenter Gail Wanner (of SirsiDynix and the â€œRethinking resource sharing initiative”) presented “Rethinking resource sharing: getting what you want“.
Candy briefly described the history and goals of the Rethinking Resource Sharing Initiative, which began with a white paper in February 2005, continued through several national forums, and updated white paper, developed a formal leadership, and now plans yet another forum.
Their goal is to create a new global framework to allow people to get what they want based on cost, time, format and delivery, and that is user focused (i.e. can both start and end outside a library and is not library-centered), vendor neutral, has a global context, and uses the concept of Resource Sharing (not just ILL). With ILL, scarce resources are allocated, but with RS, one picks from an abundance of resources.
They are currently working on a user-centric tool, the Get-it Button Project, an open source, cross-vendor, modular web browser plug-in that parses web pages to find published materials, performs an availability check, and displays results based on a patron’s profile. It may be previewed by ALA Midwinter.
The session concluded with a discussion of marketing options for he plug-in.