Hennepin County Library
The primary goal of implanting automatic renewals was to improve the patron experience at Hennepin County Library. Since patrons were already permitted to renew items up to three times if there were no other patrons with active requests for the item, automating the renewal process is an improved service that simply saves the time and effort of manual renewals. Our library buildings continue to have plenty of materials on the shelf for patrons to browse and request, with collection availability percentage remaining the same post-automatic renewal implementation.
Automatic renewals also reduce barriers to library service. Over the first year of the service, we observed a 75% reduction in the average daily count of overdue fines assessed, which means a large number of our fines were for items returned or renewed just a few days late. Renewing those items automatically – under the same circumstances they could have been manually renewed – reduces the inequitable impact of fines, as well as the impact of other disparities in our communities, such as transportation access and housing stability.
An implementation team met during the six months prior to launch. This cross-divisional team had key representatives from affected divisions within the library, including Library Services, Communication, Web & Online Services, and IT Technical Services. This was a significant service model change for the library, and Hennepin County Library was the first public library in Minnesota to offer automatic renewals. With diverse perspectives and varied skills, the team anticipated challenges, shaped the service model and communication, and served as ambassadors among other staff and patrons.
The automatic renewal program itself was custom-built as Horizon, the Integrated Library System (ILS) vendor used by Hennepin County Library, did not offer automatic renewals. Email notices were a key part of the redesign. The library already sent due date reminders three days before items were due. Now, after an automatic renewal attempt is made, patrons receive an email notice that explains what renewed, what didn’t, and updated due dates.
Keeping library materials in patron’s hands, where they are needed and used the most, supports the Hennepin County we envision: where library services ensure every person has the opportunity and resources to read, graduate, engage, work and learn.
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Alex Hepp, City of Hopkins
Bill Bleckwehl, Cisco
Dave Andrews, DEED
Jay Wyant, Minnesota IT Services
Jim Hall, Ramsey County
Matt Bailey, IBM
Melissa Reeder, League of Minnesota Cities
Nathan Beran, City of New Ulm
Sue Wallace, IT Futures Foundation
Lisa Meredith, Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative
Justin Kaufman, Minnesota IT Services
Renee Heinbuch, Washington County/MNCITLA
Jerine Rosato, Ramsey County
David Berthiaume, Minnesota IT Services
Cory Tramm, Sourcewell Tech
Tomas Alvarez, Federal Reserve
Tom Ammons, MN.IT – Central
Dave Andrews, MN State Services for the Blind
Susan Bousquet, MN.IT – DOT
Robert Granvin, Metro State
Alex Hepp, City of Hopkins
Shawntan Howell, Ramsey County
Jenny Johnson, Metropolitan Council
Millicent Kasal, MN.IT – Central
Ping Li, MN.IT – MMB
Chibuzor Nnaji, MN.IT – DHS
Mehrdad Shabestari, MN.IT – Central