rousting the sleepers

SvN just posted Waking up the sleepers which explores how to entice customers that have signed up for services to actually use them. Not that we would ever experience anything about that in libraries, right? Chances are that we all have sleepers. People who’s library cards never see the light of day or glow of a barcode scanner because they’re in a dresser drawer or buried in their 4 inch thick wallet.

So once we get 100% saturation of library cards in our communities because of Library Card Sign-up Month, how do we get people to come back? Suggestions from the post include one-time reminder emails, and a bonus or special offer for waking up and using the service. From the comments:

You don’t wake up a real life sleeping dog just to say “hey, you are still a dog”. You wake him up and say “lets go running in the park and then you get a bone to chew on!”

How are libraries supposed to offer bonuses when we usually don’t charge for things? What about those darn library fines? If you do charge fines (something that I’d discourage you from continuing), you could send out an amnesty email to people with fines that have inactive accounts. In your community there are probably a bunch of people that won’t use the library for a long time because of a $10 fine. What’s better, eventually collecting that $10 or waiving the fine and getting that person back in the building?

Do you charge for DVDs? You could offer free DVD rentals for the returning patron. If you don’t charge for DVDs, you could offer postal service delivery of a few DVDs.

Returning patrons could be given priority placement on the holds list for a particularly hot book or DVD.

Academic and public libraries could offer a $2 copy card to returning students.

Have a raffle and give away entries to people returning to the library.

Of course, libraries should do this without being spammy. Annoying people will produce a result opposite of what we intend. We should also keep in mind that if we have a large number of sleepers, there’s likely something fundamentally wrong with our normal way of doing things and that no amount of reminders will get users back. Only a severe change in operations and strong marketing campaign will help with that.

2 thoughts on “rousting the sleepers”

  1. A lot of libraries charge something to mail books. I’d be into giving everyone 1 book mailed free each month, or give everyone a $10 credit, pay off your fines, or get some books mailed, or admission to a program.

  2. I like giving away free stuff. Two years ago we gave away free canvas bags with the library logo. Last year we upgraded everyone’s card to a new one with a picture of the library and a keychain card as well. This year we may give away more stuff. I am pushing it back to October to accommodate our winter visitors.

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