If you’ve ever received an overdue notice on your library materials, then you know how they usually read. At best, they are dry and institutional. At worst, depending on how long you’ve had those materials, they become more bellicose and eventually threaten legal action. I’ve been a librarian for over twenty years now and no one to my knowledge has ever admitted to composing the language that’s used in these notices. They are written that way because, well, that’s the way it’s always been.
After the patrons complained about the unfriendly tone of their overdue notices, the good folks at Kotzebue Public Library, in collaboration with my friend and colleague, Lisa S., came up with an innovative way to solve the problem. Kotzebue, if you don’t know, is a small community on a spit of land in Northwestern Alaska.
Below, reprinted with their permission, is the text of the overdue notices the patrons in Kotzebue now receive:
Daily Due Date Reminder (sent out via email only)
We thought you might need a friendly reminder that your library books and/or dvds are due back in the library in 3 days. If you need to keep your stuff a little longer call us at xxx-xxxx. Thanks. :0)
1st Overdue Notice
Hey, we’ve noticed that you have overdue library books and/or dvds. How about returning them so you can get new ones and others can look at yours? Or call us at xxx-xxxx to keep your things for a little longer.
2nd Overdue Notice
Okay, so this is your second notice reminding you to bring your library books and/or dvds back to the library. It’d be awesome if you’d return those things now. You’ll get a little something if you do. See you soon? Great!
3rd Overdue Notice
Now you’ve really done it. This is your third notice reminding you to bring your REALLY overdue stuff back. How about it! Step up to the plate and do the right thing. People want to look at that stuff you’re hogging.
Patrons liked the new notices which have been a big hit. Thanks for Lisa S. and Stacey G. for sharing this story with me. Any time you can make patrons laugh about their overdue notices, you are building goodwill for your library. And that’s what it’s really all about in the end.