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Automatic Library Renewal

Napan Nancy Hudgins checks out books at the Napa County Library in Napa recently. Among other new services, the library now offers automatic renewal of books. 

The Napa County Library has a bunch of new “things” to lend, but these things aren’t the printed kind.

Called the Library of Things, this new lending library includes guitars, ukuleles, binoculars, telescopes and birdwatching kits.

Each item — a total of 82 individual pieces distributed throughout all four libraries — can be checked out to anyone with a library card for up to the normal 21 days, plus the usual two renewal periods if no one is waiting for it.

Libraries are about books and information, said Danis Kreimeier, director of library services. But customers have also asked for more things to do in Napa, such as enjoy new experiences.

Using these new “things” can help locals to discover, learn and grow their interests, said Kreimeier.

“Who knows where it will lead them?” she asked.

Each new “thing” comes with its own accessories and case. For example, the Fender acoustic guitar is accompanied by a tuner, DVD and picks.

The new items seem to be quite popular. On the morning of July 3, all the instruments were already checked out. Patrons can borrow or place a hold on a guitar or ukulele just like any other library book – both in person or online, entering the keywords “library of things” and then using the search button.

Kreimeier said the library is already considering other “things” to lend, for example cooking equipment.

“We’re open to suggestions,” said the director.

Another new library service recently debuted is automatic book renewals.

As of last week, all library books are now automatically renewed for patrons. That means no more scrambling to remember to renew a book by a due date or speed-reading a book to finish it on time. The regular limit of two renewals still applies.

Hot Picks, interlibrary loans, and items that have reached their maximum number of renewals or are already overdue will not be auto-renewed.

You don’t “lose” days with automatic renewal, library officials said.

“The due date advances the appropriate amount based on the material type and the original due date. For example, if you have a book due on the 3rd, the system will send you an email two days in advance (on the 1st) letting you know that your item’s due date has been extended to the 24th.

Library items will be automatically renewed as long as no holds have been placed on them by other library customers and they’re items that can be renewed.

“What we wanted to do was make it as easy as possible for people” to renew books “so they don’t forget,” said Kreimeier . With this new feature, “your book will renew and you don’t have to worry about a fine.”

During the summer, patrons go on vacation or travel. Automatic renewal “just makes it easier,” she said.

The automatic renewal program is a component of the new Polaris library system that the library implemented about two years ago.

“We thought it was a good time to roll out and use that functionality,” she said.

Library user Sally Weis is mom of four children, including triplets. Automatic renewal is “perfect” for her family, said Weis.

She visits the library about once a week. Until now, Weis had always brought her books to the library to renew them. Automatic renewals are “100 percent convenient” for her family.

Library patron LuAnn Masters visited the library on Tuesday with her granddaughter. Masers called automatic renewal “very handy.”

“It’s definitely easier for people,” she said.

Teen services librarian Melinda Mathis said she thinks the service will save time for both library customers and library staff.

In June, the Napa County library system had more than 15,000 renewals – online, in person and by phone — between all four branches.

“I spend a good portion of my time renewing books over the phone,” Mathis said. With automatic renewal, it will free up more time to help customers in other ways.

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.