Thursday, January 08, 2009

NLB Announces Library Policy Changes To Encourage Responsible Library Usage and Prompt Return of Borrowed Library Materials

This was announced today. From the NLB press release page (emphasis are mine):
Changes to Library Policy
From 1 April 2009, the following policy changes will be implemented:

Disruption of Borrowing Privileges
Members with unpaid library fines and fees will have their borrowing privileges disrupted. They can immediately start to borrow again once they pay up the outstanding amount. With this policy, members can no longer accumulate unpaid library fines and fees.
The change will not affect the majority of members who return their borrowed materials on time as well as those who are prompt in paying their library fines and fees.

Removal of Renewal Fee
NLB will remove the $0.50 renewal fee for each borrowed item to encourage members to renew their borrowed materials when necessary. The current policy of allowing each borrowed item to be renewed once will remain unchanged. This policy change benefits members who are frequent users of library services. It also addresses the general feedback that members sometimes incur library fines because they require more time to read their borrowed items... ...

Also stated in the press release: "Members who return borrowed materials promptly will not be affected and the policy changes will not cause any additional burden to the general public financially."

The press release also includes details of the Mass Reminder Mailing Exercise (again, emphasis are mine):
From April 2009, members who have incurred library fines and fees above $0.30 and outstanding for more than three months will receive reminder mailers. An administrative charge will be levied on recipients of repeat reminder mailers. In addition, NLB will display reminder messages on loan receipts and on the screens of borrowing stations and library eKiosks to remind members of unpaid library fines and fees. Members are also encouraged to sign up for NLB's free email or SMS notification and reminder services to receive alerts on impending due dates and overdue borrowed items.

The policy changes and the improvements to the notification processes are the result of NLB's review and consideration of the feedback and suggestions by members of the public during the last Mass Reminder Mailing Exercise.

Personally, I feel these two policy amendments does greater justice to the majority of NLB members who have always returned their items on time. I mean, it's only fair that those who receive repeat reminder notices should pay for the extra costs -- not members who return items on time.

The good thing is that now, everyone gets to renew items for free.

Of course forgetfulness is a human trait. Which is why it's a good idea to sign up for the free reminder services.
National Library Board Singapore - eReminder service

You can receive reminders and alerts via email or SMS.

Depending on what you sign up for, you'd get reminders on when your items are due, confirmation for the items you've returned at the bookdrop, alerts that your reserved items are ready for collection, notifications on the cost of lost/damaged items (if any), and expiry of your premium/foreign membership.

Here's an example of an email reminder I received recently:
NLB Reminder - sample

I chose a 7-day daily reminder, so that if for some reason the system fails to send out a reminder, I'm likely to still get a reminder within my due date.

And when the item is returned, I'd get this notice (it tells me how many items were returned, the date/ time which they were successfully cancelled):
Confirmation of Items Returned at Bookdrop - sample

When you return items at the bookdrop, there's an indicator light that tells you if the item is successfully returned or not. The email/ SMS confirmation notice serves as documentary proof, in case you ever need it. It's also useful if you get someone else to return the items for you, and you wish to receive direct confirmation [if you're thinking that email or SMS notices can be faked, the library has other ways to verify].

So we have:
  • Physical confirmation of items returned at the bookdrop
  • Email/ SMS confirmation of items returned at the bookdrop
  • Email/ SMS alerts on when items are due
(Hmm... maybe we need one more type of alert: of items charged to our account. Could be useful as a record of items borrowed and/ or notice of unauthorised use of the library account).

With all the alert services being provided for, I think ultimately we who borrow items from the public library must remember one thing: "Personal Responsibility".

Enough said.

[Update: NLB FAQs on the Fines Recovery Exercise and Changes to the Library Policy, 9 February 2009]


  1. Anonymous6:37 am

    Hello, Ivan! How the heck are you? Wo zhi tao ni hen mang, but I also hope that you are well.

    Two things: first, I think that the new library policy on renewing books and late fees sounds perfectly reasonable and is a long-overdue improvement--for whatever this sometime patron's of the library opinion is worth. Second, I'm delighted to see that you're getting around to reading "Neuromancer." If you like that one, you'll probably also like "Count Zero" and "Mona Lisa Overdrive." After that, Gibson, in my view, falls off considerably.

    Blustery here, temperatures above zero after several days below, so we have lots of snow melt. Walking in this weather can be treacherous! For this and other reasons, I wish I were there rather than here. Perhaps someday I again will be. Until that time--and after--you take good care of yourself.

  2. Anonymous3:16 pm

    "An administrative charge will be levied on recipients of repeat reminder mailers"

    I have to disagree with this to a certain extend. What makes NLB think that those deadbeat user who refuse to pay up their outstanding fines and fees to pay up when extra reminder and charges are to be leverage on them? What is the next action beyond this extra charges?

    Also, if the mailing address of these users are not updated, who will bear the extra cost of mailers that did not reach the intended people?

  3. Ohh renew! I want to renew now! Late fees is reasonable. I presume that these letters will only been send if the fines reached an unreasonable level?

  4. Several thoughts on this subject:

    a) NLB can cut down on mailers. I don't understand why NLB still uses mailers for book reservation when email notification would suffice?

    b) With this new policy, that means even reserving a book will cause borrowing privileges to be disrupted? Ah well.

    c) There's a pre-paid account service available at the NLB website. Users can top-up the account and use it to pay fees and fines. As a frequent offender, I have a small sum deposited at the pre-paid account. My only wish is that this account is compatible with non-IE browsers because I do not use IE at home!

  5. Hi Ivan, the removal of renewal fee is good news!

    (but I guess there is no choice la, after all renewal fee is counted as a fine too .. lol)

    wait a minute, then book reservation fees how? also counted as fine??

  6. Is there still the disclaimer that not getting a reminder is not an excuse to not return your books?

  7. Hi everyone, thanks for the questions. Rather than try to answer them singly and in my personal capacity, I'm waiting for the NLB FAQ to be published out. Will address your questions from there. Cheers!

  8. UPDATE: NLB FAQs on the (1) Fines Recovery Exercise and
    (2)Changes to the Library Policy,
    9 Feb 09.


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