What is BIC Realtime for Libraries?

BIC Realtime for Libraries establishes a set of standard Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for libraries, suppliers and data providers which are designed to facilitate and improve business communication in the library physical and digital book supply chain. Both libraries and the book trad e are very familiar with EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and the advantages of exchanging business messages electronically, but EDI is usually a batch transaction rather than a real – time transaction. Now, using web protocols for communication over the Internet, businesses can communicate much more quickly, obtaining real – time replies to their requests.

This standard is recommended by BIC as the best way to implement these new mess ages between libraries BIC Realtime for libraries Page source.docx and their book suppliers. BIC is not suggesting that long – standing and highly effective EDI implementations should be replaced by BIC Realtime for Libraries, but that existing capabilities can be significantly enhanced by im plementing these additional messages. And for new implementations, BIC Realtime for Libraries APIs should be considered for use as a modern, cost – effective, standards – based alternative to EDI.

How does BIC Realtime for Libraries differ from EDI?

Using the BIC Realtime for Libraries APIs (i.e. new XML web communications), library businesses will now be able to communicate with trading partners quicker and more effectively, and get real – time, immediate replies to requests rather than having to depend on processing of data transactions in batches. This is essential to meet the expectations of the next generation who have grown up with modern On – Demand services, who expect and require instant access to eBooks and other digital resources, and immediate updates on the progress of orders for physical books and services. 

The 8 APIs now available via BIC Realtime for Libraries are quick to develop, install and test. Additionally, libraries and library – focused businesses ca n deploy BIC Realtime for Libraries solutions much more cost – effectively than traditional EDI, and trading partners will be able to support and communicate via BIC Realtime for Libraries APIs swiftly and without weeks of testing.

BIC Realtime for Libraries – List of currently available APIs (v0.9)

The following full list of BIC Realtime for Libraries APIs are initial releases for pilot implementations (version 0.9). Please notify BIC when starting to deploy these messages and feed back any issues when piloting by logging on to the GitHub repository for BIC Library Web Services

Note that each message is always a pair – a request message followed by a response message – which contains the requested information or in some cases a functional response to acknowledge the request.

1. Order Request and Response API:

API specification | WSDL | XSD

2. Order Status Enquiry and Report API:

API specification | WSDL | XSD

3. Retrieve Order List API:

API specification | WSDL | XSD

4. Retrieve Price and Availability API:

API specification | WDSL | XSD

5. Retrieve Quotation API:

API specification | WSDL | XSD

6. Retrieve Quotation List API:

API specification | WSDL | XSD

7. Request Order Cancellation API:

API specification | WSDL | XSD

8. Retrieve MARC Product Information API:

API specification | WSDL | XSD

The BIC Realtime for Libraries Implementation Guide (v0.9)

Register to obtain a copy of this Implementation Guide (free of charge)

All general enquires regarding BIC Realtime for Libraries please email BRL@bic.org.uk.

Governance of the BIC Realtime for Libraries standard

BIC Realtime for Libraries has been developed by the BIC Library Web Services Task & Finish Working Group and is now maintained by the BIC Realtime for Libraries Governance Group which reports to the BIC Libraries Committee.

When there is widespread industry adoption of the BIC Realtime for Libraries APIs (listed above) and subsequent demand for others to be developed, BIC will look to run a follow – up project for additional APIs; these will be covered by a new policy document.

The BIC Realtime for Libraries Governance Group will continue to maintain the standard and monitor the number of implementations. Any BIC Members wishing to join this Review Group should email: BRL@bic.org.uk.  


BIC Library API Policy for Implementers

The following organisations publicly endorse the use of BIC Realtime for Libraries:

BIC Realtime for libraries GOLD LEVEL ENDORSERS:

Gold Level policy endorsers commit to implementing the BIC Realtime for Libraries APIs within 18 months of publication.

  • Askews & Holts Library Services
  • Bibliographic Data Services (BDS)
  • Bromley Libraries
  • Civica
  • Coventry University
  • Hammersmith and Fulham Libraries
  • Imperial College London
  • Infor
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Libraries
  • University of Brighton Library
  • The University of Liverpool Library
  • University of Nottingham Libraries
  • Westminster Libraries


Silver Level policy endorsers commit to working with BIC to develop these standards – based APIs and bring them to market as soon as is practicable.

  • Axiell ALM Ltd
  • Bibliotheca 
  • Nielsen Book
  • SirsiDynix
  • University of Oxford Libraries

Read what our endorsers have to say about BIC Realtime for Libraries APIs.