Reduce Your Overdues

Chris Rippel wrote this wonderful recommendation:

In the early 1980s, Patsy Hansel, Robert Burgin, and Paul Little did
extensive statistical analysis revealing what practices correlated with
more overdues and what practices are correlated with fewer overdues. For
example, libraries with loan periods of 3 weeks had more overdues than
libraries with loan periods of 2 or 4 weeks.


Here are my recommendations based on their findings.

1. Automate your circulation process.
2. Make the loan period of 14 or 28 days or more.
3. Vary loan periods based on the overdue problem for each
category of
materials. For example, if the Metropolan Library System (MLS)
found that
adult fiction has a higher percentage of overdues thatn overdues
as a
whole. MLS should lengthen the loan period for adult nonfiction.
4. Don\'t renew books.
5. Suspend borrowing priviledges of patrons with overdues.
6. Mail overdues within 14 days after due date.
7. Send at least four overdue notices.
8. Replace the final overdue notice with a bill for the item.
9. Don\'t charge overdue fines for regular materials.
10. Charge stiff fines (e.g., $5 per overdue notice) for unique
materials
needed to be returned by a due date (e.g., interlibrary loan or
new books
on a waiting list).
11. Charge fines by the number of overdue notices, not number of
days overdue.
12. Mark the outside of books (e.g., book bands) that will
receive heavy
overdue fines.
13. Don\'t telephone patrons because it doesn\'t seem to reduce
overdues.
14. Make returning books more convenient. Booksdrops in front of
libraries
for after hours and, at more distant locations, inside grocery
stores and
popular restuarants. Cedar Rapids, Iowa PL receives many kudos by
placing
drop boxes in seven Hy-Vee grocery stores. These boxes are a
response to a
survey in which 2/3 of respondents said that remote drop boxes
anre a good
or excellent idea.
15. Make returning books for out-of-town people convenient with
stamped,
self-addressed envelopes or set up agreements with other
libraries you will
pay return postage if patrons will return the book to them.
16. Use a collection agency rather than taking patrons to court.
(Collection agencies are effective for handling accounts up to $60.
They
were less effective once accounts are over $60. Taking patrons to
court is
not effective.)

The studies from which these recommendations are drawn are:
"Managing Overdues" by Paul Little. The Bottom Line. V.
2, No. 2 1998, pp.
22-25.
"Hard Facts About Overdues" by Patsy Hansen and Robert
Burgin. Library
Journal. V. 108, No. 4. Feb. 15, 1983, pp. 249-352.
"More Hard Facts on Overdues" by Robert Burgin and
Patsy Hansel. Library
Overdues: Analysis, Strategies and Solutions to the Problem, 1984,
pp. 5-18.
"Library Overdues: An Update" by Robert Burgin and
Patsey hansel. Library
and Archival Security. Vol. 10, No. 2, 1990, pp. 51-75.

Chris Rippel
Central Kansas Library System
1409 Wiliams
Great Bend, Kansas 67530
316-792-4865
crippel@ckls.org

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