What is Gentle Nudge?
Gentle Nudge is a process of patron communication that encourages the return of overdue library materials.
What is the purpose of Material Recovery?
Everything we do is to follow the two pillars of Material Recovery
Unblock patrons and return them to users of the library
Return materials to circulation for everyone to use
We offer libraries a tool that reaffirms their mission
Every library exists to circulate materials. So, we started our Gentle Nudge Material Recovery Service to aid libraries with their core mission.
A resource for when there is no alternative
When a patron doesn’t return materials, they may get a fee and eventually a bill. But more importantly than losing a piece of the collection, libraries are losing patrons. A blocked patron is a fracture in the relationship between the community and the library. We created the Gentle Nudge in order to repair that relationship. Through our 30-year history we have perfected the art of engaging patrons, fine free or conventional fine structure.
My library is fine free. Does that mean we cannot use Gentle Nudge?
Eliminating fines does address the punitive aspect of overdue materials; however, it does not always get materials back in the door.
Since the focus of Gentle Nudge has always been on materials, the popular wave of fine free libraries has been welcomed by us at Unique as a result. We have customized our process to for fine free libraries. The process has been a success for libraries everywhere.
How does the process work?
We have perfected the process of reengaging patrons. Unique is agile, adopting modern methods for modern libraries.
The principles of the process
- Focuses on materials
- Preserving goodwill and maintaining relationship
What kind of results does Gentle Nudge produce?
Backed by data
Unique partnered with multiple libraries to evaluate the long-term success of our Gentle Nudge approach. The study looked for patrons with activity or open circulation dates after the balance was cleared. As a result of the process, all patrons regained borrowing provides.
The results were overwhelmingly positive. With 1,645 patrons analyzed in the study, 1,253 (76%) had activity on their account after regaining their privileges.
How much control does the library retain?
If a material that is damaged or no longer valuable for any reason, the library always maintains 100% control of what can be waived from a patron account. The main value of our service is that the patron and library relationship is restored. Regaining a patron and unblocking them from the library is one of our two pillars of material recovery.
How much does Gentle Nudge cost? Is it worth it to my library?
Every library that starts Material Recovery determines can set up their own criteria for our service. Several set their process up to be budget neutral, in order for the cost of submitting a patron to Material Recovery to be less than the value of materials recovered.
No matter how your library calculates the value of materials, the value of keeping patrons is a value that our service provides.
Does Gentle Nudge negatively affect lower-income patrons?
This is a common misconception. Looking at accounts referred to UMS for material recovery, we can see that the median income range for accounts referred is $50,000-$74,000. The second largest group of patrons referred to us are in the $75,000-$90,000 income range. The median household income in the Unique States was $70,784 in 2021.