Proposal for Pre-Date-Due Email

Back in July I wrote about the need to improve the “courtesy emails” sent to patrons in advance of items being due.  At the time I proposed a new graphical format for the notices; at present, though, the Evergreen system Robertson Library uses doesn’t support MIME email, so these emails must be plain ASCII for the moment.

What I’m proposing instead, is to replace the existing notice template that results in notices that look like this:

Subject: UPEI Robertson Library Courtesy Notice

Dear Peter Rukavina,

Our records indicate these items are due in 3 days:

Please return or renew this material before fines accumulate.

Note that laptops and other reserve items cannot be renewed.

You may renew your material in one of 3 ways:
   - online with your "My Account" page
   - by phoning 902-566-0583
   - by replying to this email

Thank You.

   How we decide, by Lehrer, Jonah.
   Call Number: BF448.L45 2010
   Due Date: 2013-06-24
   Barcode: 37348007190119

With a template that results in notices that look like this:

Subject: UPEI Library books due in 3 days

You have UPEI Library books due in 3 days:

+- Due Saturday, June 24
+    "How we decide"

You may renew these:

1. Online at
2. By telephone at (902 )566-0583.
3. By email to

Laptops and reserve items cannot be renewed.

Here’s what’s changed:

  1. Modifed the subject line to describe actual contents of email (“courtesy notice” doesn’t mean anything to real people).
  2. Removed references to “Robertson Library” and replaced with “UPEI Library”, which is more widely understood.
  3. Removed salutation (“Dear Firstname Lastname”) — it serves no purpose, as the email is already addressed to the recipient in the header.
  4. Put the due books up front rather than buried at the bottom.
  5. Removed the useless item-related metadata (call number, barcode, author) and just display the title.
  6. Changed the date format from the hard-to-parse “2013-06-24” to a human-readable “Saturday, June 24”.
  7. Replaced the complicated-looking URL for online renewal with a shortened URL (that would redirect to the Evergreen page).
  8. Remove “Thank You”.

I welcome comments on the proposed new format.