March 10, 2008

Culling of Patrons

Nancy at Madbury Library sent out a question (March 2008) about how long libraries wait before culling inactive patrons from their system. Here are the cumulated responses:

  • “We cull after 3 years of inactivity. We do NOT remove a record if there are lost materials or charges for lost or damaged books on the record. I’m always surprised how frequently these folks come back thinking they are no longer in the system, only to find out that we still have their information.”

  • “I print out a report of patrons within inactive cards (over 5 years). Staff does call to see if they still want the card and update info. Many are just disconnected numbers which we then simply delete the record. I try to do some each year.”

  • “I started thinking of this about 6 months ago. We do not have a written policy on it. Hmmm... but maybe I should write one. Anyway, after discussing it with my trustees, in January I culled all patrons who had not checked out items in the past 2 years (we got a new automation system 2 yrs ago so this is all the back info we had). I don’t think this had ever been done before. Good-bye to about 800 patrons. Yikes! Part of my reasoning was I wanted to know who was actually using the library so we could figure out how to get everyone else to as well.”

  • "We cull patrons every July who have been inactive for 2 years. If they have fines/fees attached to their record we leave them in however.”

  • “We toss registration cards and delete their screens after our annual purge, which we try to do every January for cards expired 2 years previous, or if we know the person has moved or died. UNLESS they still have material out or fines. Then I guess they stay forever...”

  • “Our cards expire every three years, or after one year of not being used. The computer takes care of renewal notification and patron purging. In both expiration situations, patron needs to show proof of residency again to renew their cards.”

  • Another email reminded me that you have to retain patron’s application for the remainder of the year plus one year. I was not sure if that meant after culling or after the application was done. I do plan on going to the Library Trustees’ conference on May 14 as Tom Ladd is doing a session on the whys and hows of policy writing.

  • I had one other response which I can not find. But the fun part of it was that as soon as you delete patrons’ records they walk in the door.