Maintaining an Accurate Patron Database
How long are your library cards good for? Most libraries assume a patron will live at the same address for three years and use this as their default card expiration. Suddenly a patron goes to check out an item and must refresh their card assuming they are in the library. While it’s a simple process, each patron takes a few minutes of staff time that adds up across thousands of patrons and causes a small hiccup in the patron check out process. Maintaining an accurate patron database removes unwanted inefficiencies that add up over time.
Unique makes it easy to ensure your patron’s information stays up to date, preventing the need to regularly expire cards. Using the databases we routinely utilize for our Material Recovery service, Unique looks up any registered change of address for your patrons and provides an updated list. Simply update your ILS with the new addresses. We have found that annually, most libraries see about 10% of patrons changing address, either remaining within the library district, or moving outside.
Why should you be proactive in finding out new patron addresses?
- Renew or expire your patron’s cards automatically – Save staff and patron time when it’s time to renew cards. Digital only users can avoid stopping in the library altogether and continue to happily use library resources where they are.
- Market only to those who can use your resources – Mailings are expensive, be sure any physical mail including notices and bills sent to patrons will get to the right destination.
- Target market to those who may be candidates for specialized services – Some libraries may have specialized neighborhood services that are qualified for based on address. Find existing patrons as they move into these service zones to proactively reach out.
- Correct any mistakes in patron input during card registration – A wrong number or misspelling of a street name may impact your ability to contact a patron later.
- Standardize your database – Staff and patrons may enter addresses in different formats. Is it Northeast D Street or NE D St? All results are returned standardized to USPS standards.
- Keep current on your data trends. Using outdated patron addresses may skew any decisions made about where patrons are coming from in your service area.
Most libraries choose to verify patron addresses with Unique annually or biannually. Other data to better understand your patrons is available as well. Contact your customer service representative or firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation and quote today.