“Is Material Recovery Mean?”

“Is Material Recovery Mean?”

Common Library Staff Question: Is Material Recovery Mean?

Continuing our series on questions we get from library staff, we tackle a common question about our material recovery service

What is Gentle Nudge?

Gentle Nudge was founded as a core service from Unique Library, and it has proven to be an invaluable addition to libraries across the English-speaking world. Although the process has proven to be an important part for libraries representing hundreds of thousands of patrons, we occasionally get the comment that people think that the Gentle Nudge process is “mean” to patrons, but that is not the reality.

Libraries have their own version of reminders. Patrons know their commitment to bring materials back. Sometimes however, these notifications go ignored. That is where Unique’s Gentle Nudge process comes in.

How it works

The goal of the messages and process is to remind people of their commitment to the library, and to return them to patrons in good standing. We have specific messaging for libraries with fines or fine free models that reflect the library’s policy.

We spread the communications of our process out over 130 days, with most notifications coming 3 weeks apart. This cadence is shown to give patrons enough time to act on the message without feeling constantly bombarded.

Our series of calls, electronic messages, and print letters all come after the library has exhausted their own process, yet the library retains control of all accounts. If the library wants to waive an account for whatever reason, they retain that control.

Why it works

An important point of material recovery is the relatively small number of patrons that are submitted. About 98% of library users will never be submitted for material recovery. These 98% of users adhere to their obligation of returning materials on time. Should they have to go without materials that other people fail to return?

Our service lets people know the nature of their commitments to their library. By reminding them, they can return their overdue materials and return to a patron in good standing themselves. We handle the process while remaining a respectful third party, providing a valuable service to patrons that will allow them a lifetime of patronage of their library.

If a patron has failed to return their materials, it is important not only to get the materials back, but to also restore them as a patron in good standing. Simply ignoring the case does not make it go away, and the Gentle Nudge is the tool that solves that problem.

Want to learn more about our Gentle Nudge® service? Visit our page here.
Read what others are saying about Unique’s Gentle Nudge® process here. 
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