The Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library Sys-tem is making a new tool available to help member libraries enhance customer service.
SirsiDynix Voice Automation (SVA) is a product that enables libraries to "go green" by replacing circulation notices that were being printed and mailed with a calling system that provides information about overdue materials and holds.
Libraries will activate calls with a computer report similar to the ones now used for print and e-mail notices. If patrons have provided an e-mail address, email is their default notification method. Otherwise, they will receive the automated phone calls.
"Although the use of voice notification is an option, it can be a money saver for member libraries," according to System Director Linda Mielke.
She said libraries can save on paper, printing, postage and staff time if they have been mailing notices or calling patrons.
"If they were sending even 20 notices a week, they would save $468 a year in postage costs alone, so it is definitely an option to consider," she said.
Because the cost of the new notification system is being paid by the library system, there is no direct cost to member libraries.
The tool is available to any libraries which have "gone live" with an automated catalog provided by Sirsi Dynix. The voice notices will tell patrons they have overdue materials or holds available or both in the same message. Some libraries may no longer send replacement notices.
When called, people must make a vocal response such as saying hello or the message will not play. If the message is left on a machine, it repeats three times. At first the message may be cut off because of the answering machine message, but the entire message will be repeated.
Prendergast Library in Jamestown will soon be the first to adopt the new SVA technology. Equipment has been installed, staff have been trained, and the library is stepping up efforts to verify library users' contact information.
"Like wireless and eBooks, it's simply a new way of doing library business," Mielke said.
The new system may speed up borrowing turn-around time and reduce waiting for titles if patrons pick up holds or return overdue items promptly upon notification.