New Normal for Material Recovery Post COVID?
“New Normal” is our phrase of the day when thinking about material recovery post COVID. We’re sorting it out as we go, almost one day at a time. Nothing will be exactly as it was. Nor is it expected to be. Right?
And how libraries “reshape” their service platforms is an important consideration for every community. As we create the “new normal,” libraries, by default become more vital as beacons of information, enlightenment, and entertainment.
And– the library is still THE place to get books!
As the leash of restrictions loosens, you can bet that 99% of circulating patrons will return to the library with masks and gloves, check out materials, either electronically, through Plexiglas or curbside, and then return those items at the agreed upon time. We know, too, that at least 1% of circulating patrons will do all of the above, save for that last little thing about returning items on time!
This has long been an expensive issue for most every public library, but now, and perhaps for the foreseeable future, the issue is seriously compounded by reduced funding from COVID infected municipal budgets.
Strategies for Material Recovery in the Post-COVID Reality
- This might be a tough sell, but If you’ve considered going fines free, now might be the time (learn more HERE). It’s just easier to return materials without the perceived hassle of a payment—at least for the duration of the pandemic. It doesn’t have to be permanent! And, you can use Unique’s Message Bee to spread the news! Of course the scales have to balance lost fines revenue with the real value of returned items.
- Continue to assess fines and use Unique’s service in a manner that permits us to guarantee budget neutrality: a whole lot of materials returned at no cost to the library. This is incredibly easy to do and is the most effective, cost-efficient way to use our service.
- Continue to rely on Unique’s patented Gentle Nudge which has been, and will always be, a hallmark of our service. And, we know when to go the extra mile with patience and compassion when our world seems so dark. For example, Unique can distribute “Library Letter” e-mails announcing the library’s re-opening with attendant excitement and a gentle reminder that now, more than ever, we ask patrons to be cognizant of the library’s need for shared stewardship, ergo, “please return materials on time. We can’t afford to replace them!”
- Depending on the library’s budget structure, a “fines to Unique” approach might have value. This is where patrons would be directed to pay fines to Unique, thereby greatly reducing Unique’s monthly invoice. This has worked to good effect with customers in the past, again depending on how the library is funded.