Improving user service

Our library service has changed some long standing policies, in order to encourage more use of our libraries. In the middle of last year, we changed our loan periods from 1 week to 2 weeks for DVDs, videos and CD’s and at the same time dropped the magazines loans period from 4 weeks to 2 weeks, to improve their turnover. The increased AV loan period has been very well accepted and generally the magazines too, as people see more issues more often.

In November last year we increased our loan limits. It used to be a maximum of 20 items, with a maximum of 2 DVDs, 4 videos and 4 CDs within those 20 items. Now we have unlimited print (books and mags), CD-Roms, Kits and audio books, 15 CDs, 15 videos and hopefully will be able to increase to 3 DVDs by mid year. Again very well accepted, although there was a concern it would impact memberships. Hasn’t happened from where I sit, the memberships are still streaming in. (the DVD limit is one reason).

Now last week, we dropped our reservation charges. We used to charge $1 to place a hold on a title which wasn’t on shelf at the requesting branch. The charge applied whether all copies were out, or if it was available on shelf at another of our libraries. In just a week, the pickup shelves have doubled in size, as people take advantage of this free service.

Now that’s a good thing. Although it creates more work for us, its amazing what good will it has expressed. The people who wouldn’t place holds because of the charge, love it because they don’t have to pay and the people who were used to paying love it, because they no longer have to. They would not necessarily have thought of suggesting that as a service improvement, but they love it!

And for the library, with more people placing holds, it means they will come in more often and borrow more, maybe beyond the items they are reserving. They will be happier in terms of service delivery and they will be more generous in their recommendations of the library service.

We still charge for lost and damaged items (of course) and for printing and overdues, but the latter is also under review. In the meantime, lots of smiles in our libraries, both on the faces of our users and our staff. And despite fears, we haven’t had anyone place holds on everything in sight, yet!

6 comments

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    • swashford on February 6, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    Great to hear about a library putting smiles on people faces! I’m trying to persuade our managers to drop reservation charges at the moment and am adding your example to my plea. Thank you for blogging about this, it is often the simple ideas and results that are really useful to hear about. Can I ask why the DVDs loans are so limited compared to the rest of your stock – is it a small collection or is it to do with the longer loan period?
    Sarah Washford
    UK

    • Michelle McLean on February 6, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    Sarah,

    Thanks for your feedback, it is much appreciated. Our DVD loans are low because we are still building the collection. If we increased the loans, they would all be gone out in 2 seconds. As we build our collection size, the loan limit on them will increase.

    Good luck with your efforts!

    • Lawbrarian on February 7, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    I stopped using our public library years ago and only because they changed the borrowing period for books from 4 weeks to 3 weeks. This might not seem like a big deal but 3 weeks just does not jibe with my mental calendar. After the change I was forever paying overdue fines whereas I’d hardly ever had to pay fines before. It became so aggravating that I stopped using the library, which is sad, in my view. My kids stopped using the library with me.

    Here’s the thing. We very busy working Moms have trouble enough keeping track of all the things we manage and schedule. 4 weeks is logical. At the same time of every month (say, the first thursday of the month), my mental calendar would click in and remind me that my family’s library books were due. That just doesn’t work for me and, I suspect, others, when the loan period is 3 weeks.

    Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? I’ve never seen it discussed before but it’s been a nagging bug in my bonnet for many years now.

    I know this is slightly off the topic but your post did remind me of this.

    • Michelle McLean on February 7, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Thanks for dropping by. My library did consider changing to a 3 week loan period, but as you said, the nearly monthly pattern was one of the reasons we didn’t. I agree, 3 weeks is too awkward a time for people to work on, it doesn’t take into account fortnightly commitments etc.

    • Anonymous on February 12, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    lawbrarian – our library has a three week loan period. Renewals are an option. In fact, unless there is an outstanding request for an item, two renewals are an option. The majority of our patrons are very responsible in getting their items back on time. I know I hear a lot of moms say to their kids “The due date is ‘such and such’. Remind me to mark the calendar when we get home.” This shows that both mom and kids take responsibility for getting their items back on time. Sometimes we need to use paper calendars, computer calendars, etc. when our mental calendars don’t work. We shouldn’t deprive our children the joy of the library because we, the parents, have difficulty returning items on time. And we help to teach our children that we are responsible adults and they learn from us. I hope you reconsider…

    • Michelle McLean on February 12, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    We’re working on it!

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