This guest post is written by Chris Langham, Deputy Systems Librarian at Birmingham City University. It is also published on the BCU eLibrary blog.
In May 2008, we started sending out Library SMS Notifications at Birmingham City University. Initially this was just for library material that was 18 days overdue, but has since been extended to include a range of other notifications. The types of notifications which we now send by SMS include:
1. Items 8 days overdue
2. Items 18 days overdue
3. Reserved material ready to be collected
4. Physical Inter Library Loan ready to be collected.
While this service was primarily targeted at students, any borrower with a mobile number in their library record can be sent these notifications.
In February 2009, we started sending SMS notifications for library material which was 8 days overdue. Following this change, we saw a drop in the number of 18 day overdue emails of between 25% and 50%. Library material was getting back into circulation sooner and students were paying less in Library fines. After we started sending out SMS informing borrowers that their reservation was ready to be collected, we found that there were fewer uncollected reservations and reservations were spending less time on the shelf waiting to be collected.
The service has been almost universally popular among students and there have been very few drawbacks to sending SMS. Although, the cost of sending SMS inhibits us using it for sending other reminders, such as sending an SMS reminder on the date that the item is due. Another concern is the accuracy of student mobile phone numbers. Students give mobile numbers at the start of their course or on course application, and they don’t always inform their Faculty when they get a new mobile number.
Is anyone else using SMS in this way? Any feedback to share?