Rural Librarian: Overdue: Getting Creative

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Overdue: Getting Creative

OK, as a librarian, one of my pet peeves is overdue books and especially long-term overdue books. At the Pioneer Memorial Public Library we don't have a lot of cash to spend on mailing out overdue notices, but at the same time we also only have a $2,000 per year book buying budget. That means that even a few missing books or DVDs really means a lot to a small library.

The overdue notices are generated automatically by the library circulation software that we use, but these notices are very impersonal and not particularly friendly. So this month when I sent out overdue notices I decided to try to a new tactic. After all, I spent years designing direct mail marketing, aka junk mail, in which there is a whole science to getting the all important response.

So I decided to approach the overdue notice with a little light-hearted verse in the style of Dr. Seuss. Here is the result:


Dear friends and readers,
Please lend me your ears,
We’re looking for lost books,
From over the years.


They may be in your house,
Or under the bed,
We hope that you liked them,
We hope they were read.


But other folks need them,
These wonderful tomes,
For loaning and learning,
For reading at home.


Please look for the books,
Wherever they are,
We need them back pronto
Are they in your car?


For buying new books
We don’t have lots of cash
So please search your cupboards,
And your own bookshelf stash.


Just drop them off
In our trusty drop box for books
No questions asked,
No dirty looks.


If you have returned
the books in this note
Just give us a call,
We’re sorry we wrote. :-)

I also included a note staying that we are waiving all fines until the end of June. Honestly, we just want our books or DVDs back. In direct mail, a one or two-percent response rate is considered good. But in the small library world I am hoping for a larger return of long lost books and DVDs. We shall see how successful my new approach may be.

If you have any older, overdue books from the Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harman, WV, just bring them by until June 30, 2013, for a full fine forgiveness.

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