CAUL Council of Australian University Librarians.

Last updated 27 September, 1996

Mailing of Circulation Notices to Borrowers - Summary of Responses

(CAUL Questionnaire - ANU 15/7/96)

The high cost of postage is encouraging ANU Library to re-consider its policies on mailing of circulation notices to borrowers.

Responses to the Questionnaire were received from 24 libraries. The following summary of responses includes ANU.

Question 1: What mechanisms are used for the distribution of circulation notices?

(a) Are notices mailed to off-campus addresses by ordinary mail? If so, what proportion of total notices?

All 25 libraries use ordinary mail to off-campus addresses, with the (in most cases) approximate percentage of total notices between 53% and 98%. Six libraries did not give figures or were unable to estimate the proportion. Three libraries used off-campus addresses and ordinary mail for students only.

(b) Are notices mailed to on-campus address for internal delivery? If so, what proportion of total notices?

All 25 libraries used this form of address and mail delivery, but for a much lower proportion of notices than for Question 1(a). Average proportion of notices sent by this method was between 2% (Southern Cross) and 33% (James Cook). Adelaide was well outside the norm, using this method for 80% of its notices. Eight libraries did not give figures (or gave figures that were not able to be used). Three libraries used this method exclusively for staff notices.

(c) Is email used? If so, what proportion of total notices?

Email was used by only 7 libraries, but another three indicated use of email was under consideration. Adelaide would like to use email as its sole method of mailing notices. ANU, with 15.5%, made the highest use of email.

Question 2. Are borrowers given a choice of delivery mechanism?

Only seven libraries (ANU, Adelaide, Newcastle, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Wollongong) give a choice of delivery mechanism to students. These same seven plus Ballarat and Swinburne give a choice to staff as well as students. Melbourne is trialling this soon. The rest of the respondents give no choice of delivery mechanism.

Question 3. If an off campus address is used, do you charge a fee to cover postage costs?

No library charges a fee for postage costs, but Melbourne indicated it charged a fee of $12.50 for the late return of books which was to cover stationery, postage costs and staff time.

Question 4. How many notices do you send per item e.g. 2 overdue notices, 1 recall etc.?


ANU                            1 recall; followed by 2 overdues & a bill;    
                               Staff/PGs 1 overdue followed by a bill;       
                               UGs/External users 2 overdues & a bill.       

Adelaide                       1 overdue, 1 invoice                          

Ballarat                       1st overdue at 3 days; 2nd notice 5 weeks;    
                               recall if item is wanted by another user;     
                               hold availability notice also sent.           

Bond                           2 overdue notices; 1 recall followed by       
                               email/phone call if still outstanding.        

Central Queensland             1 overdue notice; 1-2 recall notices.         

Deakin                         3 overdue notices; 1 bill.                    

Edith Cowan                    2 overdue notices; 1 hold notice.             

James Cook                     3 overdue notices; 1 recall.                  

LaTrobe                        2                                             

Melbourne                      1 overdue; 1 bill.                            

Murdoch                        2 overdues, 1 invoice, 1 recall (about to be  
                               1 overdue).                                   

Newcastle                      4 overdues including pre-invoice and invoice  
                               notices; 1 recall and 1 recall/overdue.       

New England                    1 overdue notice; 1 recall notice; later 1    
                               long-overdue invoice; + 3 types of penalty    
                               point fine notices.                           

New South Wales                1 overdue or recall; 1 fine notice.           

Northern Territory             2 overdue notices; 1 item reserved; 1         

Queensland                     Reserve items - bill; Short (3 day loans) -   
                               10 overdues and a bill; Standard loan - 1     
                               recall, 2 overdues and a bill.                

QUT                            First/final notice after 7 days.  Billing     
                               notice after 35 days.                         

South Australia                No overdues; 1 invoice; debarrals; recalls;   

Southern Cross                 2 overdues/notice or invoicing and/or 2 pink  

Southern Queensland            3 overdue notices at 2 week intervals; 1      
                               recall notice (when required); 1 hold notice  
                               (i.e. notification that item is available     
                               for collection); 3 fine letters at            
                               fortnightly intervals.                        

Swinburne                      Up to 3 overdue notices; 1 recall notice (if  
                               required for reserve collection).             

Sydney                         3 overdues; 2 recalls; fines invoices -       
                               fortnightly; 1 awaiting pickup.               

UTS                            1 overdue; 1 bill for replacement; 1 hold; 1  
                               recall; 1 recall overdue; 1 bill for          
                               replacement (up to 7).                        

Victoria University of         1 overdue notice, followed by an invoice for  
Technology                     replacement cost.                             

Western Australia              3 - (2 overdue, 1 account); or (1 recall, 1   
                               overdue, 1 account).                          

Wollongong                     1 overdue; 1 bill cost; 1 recall; 1 overdue   

Question 5. Do you notify borrowers of reservations or 'holds' waiting to be collected?

All libraries, with the exception of NSW, notified borrowers of reservations. NSW expected borrowers to check the availability of reservations themselves, as did three other libraries that did this in addition to notifying borrowers (Central Queensland, Newcastle, and South Australia to check short term loans). Of the 24 libraries notifying borrowers, 22 used mail, 7 used email (this being the sole method used by Newcastle, and used for staff only by Swinburne), with only three using phone notification. Ballarat uses the phone rarely or when a book on order for lecturer has arrived.

Question 6. How much does the Library pay in postage costs? What proportion of this is for circulation notices? (Estimate if possible.)

ANU                       $52,000 (Jan-Dec 1995)    48%                       

Adelaide                  Zero.  Paid by            About 40,000 notices      
                          University at this        sent annually.            

Ballarat                  $10,600                   Impossible to estimate.   

Bond                      Circa $12,000             Too difficult to          

Central Queensland        $33,598                   n/a                       

Deakin                    Library does not pay                                
                          postage.  University                                
                          plans to devolve postage                            
                          costs to budget centres                             
                          in 1998.                                            

Edith Cowan               $87,000                   One third.  Half postage  
                                                    costs are for distance    

James Cook                $22,398                   45% estimated.            

LaTrobe                   $5,500 per month.         40%                       

Melbourne                 $235,531                  n/a  Are reviewing        
                                                    invoicing and overdue     
                                                    procedures of sending     

Murdoch                   Circa $32,000             Circa 70%                 

Newcastle                 $36,000 approx.           60%                       

New England               $105,000                  20%                       

New South Wales           Paid centrally by         n/a                       

Northern Territory        Paid by University.       n/a                       

Queensland                $93,462 (1995)            56.8% (1995)              

QUT                       n/a                       n/a                       

South Australia           Paid by University at     n/a                       
                          present, but will be                                
                          charged to Faculties and                            
                          Divisions from 1997.                                

Southern Cross            n/a                       n/a                       

Southern Queensland       $36,512 (1995)            $2,000 approx.  Most      
                                                    costs incurred in         
                                                    sending books and         
                                                    photocopies to external   

Swinburne                 $24,569 (1995 overdue     Most                      
                          and hold notices)                                   

Sydney                    $76,000 approx.           60-70%, but will be       
                          (excluding collection/    paying more in 1996 as    
                          postage handling          Library will be sending   
                          charges).                 out more notices          
                                                    including fines and       

UTS                       $49,000 per annum         90%                       

VUT                       $35,000                   Two thirds.               

Western Australia         Paid centrally by         n/a                       

Wollongong                $23,000 (estimated 1996)  $9,800 (estimate 1996).   

Six libraries ( Central Queensland, James Cook, Murdoch, NSW, QUT and Sydney) are investigating the use of email because of the cost (and delay) of other methods of notifying users. NSW plans to use email when the majority of its borrowers (27,000) have an email address. Sydney is also "investigating the possibility of franking letters on site".

Southern Queensland says "Our library handouts state that we endeavour to send overdue and fine notices but have no obligation to do so".

UTS charges circulation postage to the fines fund since most circulation postage is for overdue and fine notices.

VUT is currently discussing proposals to reduce mailing of overdue notices and holds with client representatives.

Joan Jensen


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