Tech Blog

Integrating Alma with Relais System

Business Case

Using a Relais International ILL system, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has implemented the broker mode of Alma’s resource sharing workflows, relying on two integration points:

  • OpenURL integration for request submission
  • NCIP integration for back office processing of the requests, at both borrower and lender side

Implementing these integration points enables UNSW to use an external ILL system, relying on Alma and Primo to orchestrate the discovery, inventory management and fulfillment aspects of the resource sharing process.

Detailed Description


Placing requests is done via Primo or Primo Central. In both cases, the Alma services page enables UNSW patrons to directly link into the Relais request submission interface, and receive a populated request form, based on the previously searched metadata.

Clicking the supplied link triggers an OpenURL to the Relais system, which in response opens up a request form that is already populated with the searched metadata.

Behind the scenes, the Relais system also queries Alma for patron information. The query is done based on NCIP messages, and enables Relais to send email notifications to the requesting patron, as below.

After request is submitted, back-office actions such as the following are performed by UNSW resource sharing staff using the Relais system, with each action being automatically reflected into Alma based on NCIP messages. This enables UNSW staff to use two systems – Relais for managing the resource sharing process and Alma for managing the inventory and the fulfillment actions such as hold shelf and loan management, while performing the daily tasks only once and in one system. Actions taken in the Relais system can then be tracked in either the Relais system or in Alma. Full transparency of the request and relevant inventory status is therefore achieved with minimal required actions.


Below are the Relais actions that are automatically reflected into Alma using the NCIP messages:


Borrowing Side

  • Receiving the requested item from the lending library
  • Returning the item back to the lending library


Lending Side

  • Sending requested item to requesting library
  • Receiving item back from requesting library


Below are a couple of screens that demonstrate the operator’s work in the Relais system, and its effect on Alma:

Lending side shipping

      • Operator ships the item in the Relais system

      • The above action creates a request in Alma and marks it as shipped

      • Item in Alma is marked as shipped

Borrowing side receiving

      • Operator receives the item using the Relais system

      • The above action triggers the creation of a request in the patron’s Primo My Account list

      • Request appears in Alma’s borrowing requests list

One Reply to “Integrating Alma with Relais System”

  1. I would be interested in hearing what advantages there are in having Alma manage borrowing requests, instead of Relais ILL. Is there a contact person?

    By Joe Westra on October 1, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Leave a Reply