Auto-Renewal FAQ

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Effective Monday, January 4, 2021 auto-renewal service will be enabled for all MAIN library patrons.

Three-day courtesy email notice will inform library patrons of items that are eligible and ineligible for automatic renewal. The notice will also indicate the updated due dates of the renewed items.

Read on to learn more about what this means for you and your patrons. Questions highlighted in blue contain information that the ILS and PR Committees feel should be shared with your patrons.

What is automatic renewal?
The system will automatically renew eligible materials checked out on patrons’ accounts for the same period of time that in which it was originally checked out. This period of time varies from library to library and material type to material type.
Which kinds of items automatically renew?
Most physical items checked out from a library that already allow at least one renewal may be eligible for auto-renewal(s). Digital materials like eBooks are not auto-renewed.
What conditions prevent items from being automatically renewed?
• Materials that are never allowed to renew
• Items that have reached their renewal limit
• Items with a hold or outstanding request
• Digital items, such as eBooks
• Interlibrary Loan (ILL) items from library not part of MAIN
• Accounts with fines and fees that exceed $10
What happens to items that are not eligible for auto renewal?
They will retain their original due date.
When will items automatically renew?
Automatic renewal occurs at the time of the almost-overdue courtesy email reminder (three days before the due date). The combined almost-overdue/auto-renew reminder email includes new due dates and titles for which items were renewed, which items were not renewed, and any other items outstanding on the patron’s account.
Will auto-renewal cause patrons to have items for 1-3 days less per loan period?
No. Renewals obtained via the automatic renewal process are calculated from the item’s due date (so the new due date will be the same as if the patron renewed themselves at the end of the current loan period).
How are patrons notified when an item is automatically renewed?
Patrons who have an email address associated with their account, and have selected email as their notification preference, will receive a notice three days prior to the due date of their item. This notice will indicate which items were renewed and which items could not be renewed. These notices are only sent out via email.
Can a notice be sent by phone or mail when items have been automatically renewed?
If a patron does not have an email address listed in their account and has email notices enabled, items will still be automatically renewed; the patron will simply not receive an email.
Do patrons need to sign up for auto-renewal?
No. All patrons, present and future, automatically have access to this feature.
What if a patron does not wish items to have their items automatically renewed? Can they opt out?
No. There is no way to opt out of this system feature. Patrons should return items early if they do not wish to keep possession of a library item.
Please note that items will be auto-renewed while in quarantine unless the items are checked in prior to beginning the quarantine period adhered to by the local library.
How will auto-renewal affect overdue fine revenue?
The vast majority of surveyed libraries and library systems enabling auto-renewal experience 40% – 60% in decreases to overdue fine revenue. However, it is also anecdotally reported that customer satisfaction greatly increases and patrons are generally less combative about paying fines and fees that they do incur.
If items are automatically renewed, will other patrons need to wait longer for in-demand items?
Typically, this is not the case because items with holds on them will not be eligible to be auto-renewed, especially for newer, more in-demand items. However, items that have 28-day loan periods that are automatically renewed on Day 25 by the system have the due date extended to Day 56 of the check-out period. If another patron places a hold on that item on Day 26, they could potentially need to wait until roughly Day 56, instead of perhaps Day 42 when the item would have normally been back on the shelf if the first patron had no intention of manually renewing the item.

If a library observes this behavior on a regular basis, it is recommended that loan periods be shortened and the number of maximum renewals be increased. For example, fiction books that historically used a 28-day loan period with a maximum of two renewals could instead change to a 14-day loan period with a maximum of four renewals. In this arrangement, the system would be “pinged” twice as often to see if there were any holds on the item before automatically renewing.

What will auto-renewal do to circulation statistics?
Presumably, circulation statistics will increase significantly after auto-renewal takes effect. This could be interpreted as artificially inflating circulation statistics. The best counter-argument to this assertion is that if a patron would not normally have manually renewed the item but still held the item for an additional period of time, would the library not rather get “credit” for that usage of the item?

If a library takes issue with this consequence of auto-renewal, it is recommended that loan periods be lengthened and the number of maximum renewals be decreased or set to zero. For example, fiction books that historically used a 14-day loan period with a maximum of one renewal could instead change to a 28-day loan period with zero renewals. In this arrangement, the system would never have the option to automatically renew an item since the maximum number of renewals had been set to zero.

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