Cumbria County Council's library service is helping to ensure its customers can minimise fines on overdue items by extending its service where people can receive reminders by mobile phone text or email that items are due back.
The electronic reminders are replacing reminders by letter - and are therefore more environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and speedy.
Customers can receive an email alert three days before items are due for return, followed by another alert either by text or email (depending on customer choice) when items are seven days overdue.
The only notification that will now be sent by post is a bill for a non-returned item seven weeks after its scheduled return date.
Library customers are being asked to check that their contact details are up to date when they're in libraries, or can let the library service know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting their library card barcode number.
The facility to receive reminders electronically has already existed through customers who have signed up to Library Elf, a free website (www.libraryelf.com) that helps people manage their library loans and overdue items by email or RSS feed.
The switch to electronic notification on overdue items follows another IT development in Cumbria's libraries - Kendal, Carlisle, Penrith and Barrow libraries are now all accepting chip and pin debit and credit card payments. Whitehaven library will also have chip and pin facilities from early April and Workington is also having them installed - meaning all six of the county's main libraries will be able to accept card payments for a wide range of services including internet access, and the rental of items including DVDs, CDs, talking books, play scripts and vocal scores. Some libraries also sell ordnance surveys maps, books, greeting cards and posters.
Cllr Gary Strong, Cumbria County Council's Cabinet member responsible for libraries, said:
"Modern libraries need to use modern technology for the maximum benefits. By phasing out paper reminders we will be more environmentally-friendly and will save money on paper, printing and postage. It makes good business sense and good eco sense too."
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