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NCIP Relay: enabling exchange of messages between INN-Reach systems and Alma


The California State University San Marcos [CSUSM] Library is a member of San Diego Circuit, a direct consortial borrowing [DCB] network that utilizes the INN-Reach system (Innovative Interfaces). A DCB network allows patrons of member libraries to borrow from any of the member libraries. In addition, borrowed materials are received within 1 to 3 days.
A key requirement for the CSUSM Library’s migration to a new ULMS was the ability to continue our participation within this DCB network. Innovative Interfaces [III] offers a DCB system that allows a library with a non-III ILS to participate within an INN-Reach networks. Alma integrates with INN-Reach systems by exchanging NCIP-compliant messages via a DCB system.
Within an INN-Reach consortium, each institution is identified by a unique 5-character INN-Reach site code. The INN-Reach implementation of NCIP utilizes that site code in the UniqueAgencyId data element, an essential part of identifying the sender and recipient of an NCIP message. An example of UniqueAgencyId is shown in this item request message –

Problem Description

The 5-character limitation of site codes in INN-Reach created an incompatibility with the UniqueAgencyId codes used in Alma. In Alma, UniqueAgencyID is based on the site’s institution code. For CSUSM, the DCB code is 8cssm whereas the Alma institution code is 01CALS_USM. As a result, CSUSM’s instance of Alma was not able to process NCIP messages sent by the DCB because it could not recognize the UniqueAgencyID.


The solution to this issue was relatively simple and straightforward. Rather than have the DCB system send NCIP messages directly to Alma, we configured the DCB to direct messages to a PHP script on our library web server. Upon receipt of an NCIP message, this script scans the message for ‘8cssm’ in the UniqueAgencyID and replaces it with 01CALS_USM. Responses sent by Alma to the DCB and INN-Reach systems are also processed using the same method.
To review the solution, please go to

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