NCIP authentication overview

Library patrons sometimes request access to library services from remote locations. Libraries need to be able to authenticate and authorize access to their services for these remotely located patrons. Proxy servers and similar mechanisms allow libraries to perform these functions, but not without intensive resource commitments (time spent on setup and maintenance, money invested in equipment, etc.). Circulation system patron authentication for the FirstSearch service, through the use of the NISO Circulation Interchange Protocol (NCIP), allows library patrons to gain appropriate access to the FirstSearch service from any location. NCIP is an approved NISO standard that defines messaging between circulation systems, ILL systems, or broker applications. NCIP has many applications, only one of which is authenticating patrons for access to an online service.

The FirstSearch service currently allows manual logon, IP address recognition, scripted access, IP referer, and Athens authentication, none of which provides a complete access solution for all remote users. The NCIP-based patron authentication feature, while it does not replace these existing authentication methods, complements and supplement them.

Local library systems store circulation and patron authentication information that FirstSearch can use for remote patron authentication. To be authenticated for FirstSearch access, a patron must enter information required by the library, which, through its authorization(s), controls who has access to FirstSearch. The end goal is to allow patrons to get into the appropriate FirstSearch account according to their library affiliation(s).