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fee for books on hold

I understand the library will begin charging $.25 for every book on hold that is not picked up by the 4th day starting in 2013. The policy makes sense to avoid staff hours shelving books that never get picked up, but I would like to make a further suggestion. If you are going to place this fee, then patrons should be given ample time to pick up the items. The 4 days should be extended to 1 week. Many times I have placed books and other items on hold only to get to the library and find they have already been placed back on the shelf or sent on to the next person in line for the hold. Many library patrons, like me, work full time and are unable to get to the library within the present time frame, especially since the notification goes out via email on day #1. The library closes early on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday... This is probably the reason most people do not pick up the items that they request. Thank you for your consideration...
 

Comments

eva
Thu, 2012-12-27 12:29

Thank you for your suggestion. We will be monitoring the impact of the new fine and will keep your suggestion in mind as we consider further adjustments to our holds policy.

If you are interested, I can provide you with some background: We put more than two years of research and thought into this policy change, and I assure you that I did not make this decision lightly. Currently, the majority of items on hold are picked up in ample time; most of our patrons will not be impacted by this new fine. We have, however, seen an increase over time in the holds that patrons place but do not pick up, and when we have hundreds of holds placed each day, the additional staff time adds up. (We have been working with a reduced staff since 2009 due to budget cuts related to the recession.)

We have been purchasing fewer copies, too, because of budget cuts, so hold lists are big and people are waiting longer for their holds to come in--I think you and I may have had a conversation about this exact phenomenon at some point; at least I think it was you, it may not have been--so patrons who don't pick up their holds are delaying the next person in line from getting their hold.

Over the last three years, we have increased our internal efficiencies as much as possible to cope with our budget cuts and reduced staff, and yet we still spend several hours each morning removing expired holds that patrons have not picked up, removing the hold label, rolling them over to the next patron, wrapping them with a new hold label, shelving them, and sending email/mail/telephone notices. The fine for expired holds isn't intended to offset those staff costs; rather, it is intended to be an incentive for people to pick up their holds, or to cancel their holds online/in person/over the phone if they decide they no longer want or need the item.

I hear what you are saying about being busy and your concerns about the library's hours. The Canton Public Library is open seven days a week year-round when many of our neighbors are open five or six days, and we are open more hours than any of our neighboring libraries. We are open 72 hours weekly, as compared to Livonia and Ypsilanti at 68 hours weekly, Plymouth at 67 hours, Belleville at 58 hours, Westland at 52 hours, and Wayne at 40 hours. For libraries that are not open every day and for fewer hours when they are open, I do think that lengthier hold periods make sense. That said, we will continue to monitor the expired holds and adjust as needed.

For your specific concerns, and for anyone who shares them, if it's the last day of your hold and you cannot make it in by 9:00pm on a weekday or 6:00pm on a weekend, call our checkout desk and we will check your holds out to your account, then keep them until you can pick them up. This does mean that your "checkout clock" is ticking down to the due date, but this way you won't have to worry about re-doing your hold and starting over at the bottom of the waitlist.

This was a lengthier response than I planned; I hope that I answered your questions, and I want to reiterate that I appreciate your suggestion and will definitely be keeping it in mind as we move forward.

Best,
Eva Davis, Director