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Patron Notifications by Text Message

Brooklyn Public Library

Innovation Leader: Donnell Perkins, Manager, Enterprise Applications, d.perkins@brooklynpubliclibrary.org

Problem Statement

Last year Brooklyn Public Library spent $165K on postal notices for holds and overdue notices. Notices could take up to one week to arrive at a patron’s home, increasing the amount of time the Library’s materials spent sitting on hold shelves. Considering the extraordinary amount of money the Library was spending on print notices coupled with an ever-growing desire for library patrons to manage their accounts via their mobile devices, the Library needed to find a way to leverage the power of SMS. Once a vendor was found that could integrate with the Library’s ILS, a new problem was discovered: how to send one text to a patron who had numerous items on hold. Existing solutions sent one text for every item on hold, which would be a problem for patrons who did not have unlimited texting plans.

Innovation

The Library hired Velti, a mobile marketing company, which converts emails from our integrated library system to text messages. The most challenging aspect of the initiative was determining a way to limit the number of texts sent to patrons who had multiple items on hold. We knew our customers would be annoyed by a one text per item solution. Staff from Velti, Innovative Interfaces, and the Library’s own Enterprise Applications team developed a process by which multiple holds for the same patron could be grouped into one text message. Notification by text has been a resounding success.

Progress

Last fiscal year, Brooklyn Public Library sent out over 155,000 text messages that saved the Library over $65,000 in postal charges. There are over 7,500 users who have signed up for text alerts with over 4,000 other waiting to opt in. An additional feature, the courtesy text three days prior to an item being due, has also been extremely well received. In summary, the notification by text initiative has saved the Library money, increased customer satisfaction, increased circulation by reducing the amount of time items on hold stay on holds shelves, and has further contributed to the Library’s paperless initiatives.