- There are currently three NCIP application areas: Direct Consortial Borrowing, Circulation/Interlibrary Loan and Self-Service. New application areas are expected to be developed as NCIP is fully implemented by the library system industry.
- Direct Consortial Borrowing application messages streamline the process of borrowing and lending to and by members of a consortium. NCIP messaging enables the parties to a circulation transaction to lookup,use, and share information about borrowers from anywhere in the consortium, saving time for both the user and the library. In addition, NCIP facilitates the exchange of information about holds, charges, returns, and fiscal transactions among consortium participants for more efficient implementation of resource sharing goals.
- Circulation/Interlibrary Loan application messages allow automated Interlibrary Loan systems to communicate directly with library circulation systems. Instead of a library maintaining two separate materials tracking systems, C/ILL messaging enables ILL software to manage only ILLspecific functionality, while enabling the librarys circulation module to handle an ILL interaction as if it were any other circulation transaction. In this way, circulation management features, such as hold pickupnotification, accrual of charges, overdue notification, etc., can be used for interlibrary loan transactions because of the exchange of NCIP C/ILL messages.
- Self-Service application messages provide the ability to perform unmediated circulation, as well as support for other third party applications and services. Self-service circulation systems utilize NCIP for authentication, fiscal transactions charge, renewal, and returns. Other third party software packages such as PC reservation and scheduling systems, print and copy management systems, and web content filtering, focus on user authentication. Self-service circulation stations not only use NCIP messages for authentication, but also for creating charge and return transactions.
The protocol defines and specifies a set of objects, a set of services, messages that support those services, a set of data elements used in the messages, and a pair of state tables governing the exchange of messages over a single connection. NCIP is a connection-oriented, sessionless protocol.
- Connection-oriented - Circulation processes happen in real time, often with the user present and awaiting service. A connection-oriented protocol facilitates a timely interaction between applications and allows the application requesting a service to know with confidence that a message was received by the partner application.
- Sessionless - The lifecycle of a particular circulation activity provided by an agency to a user is often extended over days, weeks, or months. It is impractical to maintain sessions between two applications. This environment is unlike information retrieval where a single service involves related exchanges within a brief period of time.
- State of the message - The protocol does provide a simple state table that governs the exchange of messages within a connection. This table does not govern the order of messages across the lifecycle of any particular circulation exchange between a user and agency or agencies.