Sunday, January 24, 2010

Overwhelming Overdues

We have an average of over 2,000 overdues at any one time. With a student population of 860, and about 90 staff, including support staff this is an average of just over 2 per person. We used to print out the overdue reminders every two weeks (this frequency to conserve paper use) and did not have much response. (We don't charge overdue fees, not sure that would help much either).

This week we activated the overdue email alert in our Library Management system for year 4 and up and sent them out.

The response has been quite dramatic, not only in reducing the overdue numbers, but in opening dialogue between the students. I have received a number of replies to the alert letting me know the resources will be returned soon, or that they have lost the resources and need to pay for them, or thay have already returned them, and we need to recheck the shelves. They have also been asking to be reminded on how to log into their account to renew. This has been the rewarding aspect of the email alert.

So not only are we reducing paper use (and wastage), the emails are timely, we don't need to rely on the teachers to pass on the messages, we are able to send the alerts more frequently, more resources are being returned, have created interest in the OPAC and their personal accounts, and we have opened another avenue of dialogue. The only downside I can see is the reliance on the students to actual reading the email alert, but I think this is something we can influence to create a habit.

Glad we made the effort to import the email addresses, we can only move forward from here! What are strategies you use to get resources back?


librariantiff said...

What a great idea! Overdues is something I struggle with as well - it falls to the wayside in the course of everyday library chaos. I'm going to talk to my tech guy and see if this is something we could do as well. I'm at a 2nd/3rd grade school, but I think sending emails to parents would be just as effective. Thanks for the great idea!

-Librarian Tiff

MrsE said...

Retrieving overdue books is like dusting, never ends! I talked about my recent success story here:

Linda W. said...

We use email alerts too, Di. At least it saves the paper - and the cutting up! Easier for me, has generated some interesting 'conversations' (since the kids think I have personally sent them a message, not automated the email...) but there are still those who ignore them - maybe if there was a link to the parents' email???