Nudge BPL: Using Behavioral Nudges to Support Patron Fine Management and Strengthen Library Engagement 

The Nudge BPL initiative is a collaborative project between Brooklyn Public Library and the University of Virginia nudge4 Lab to design, implement, and evaluate strategies to improve patron experiences with Brooklyn Public Library, focusing on increasing engagement among children and their families and reducing the incidence of fines.

By better understanding patron behavior and motivations, we are able to reduce the need for fines, while still getting materials and people back through the library. The project is currently split into four major interventions that are being designed, tested, evaluated, and redesigned from 2019-2020.

A three-pronged nudge strategy will be used:
  • Capitalize on when patrons are in the library to (1) nudge them to stay on top of fines and (2) make it easy to pay fines that have already accrued (update kiosk/mobile app interfaces to provide personalized information accessible in multiple languages and including book due dates, fine repayment options, book/program recommendations).
  • Use interactive text messaging and revamped email communication systems to nudge patrons to return books on time, manage fines and their library engagement (add new information to BPL emails including return/renewal options and closest branch hours; prompt patron action plans; text/email pictures of books; updated transactional emails).
  • Incorporate third party systems (e.g., Venmo, Apple Pay) into the BPL website, mobile app and checkout kiosks to offer patrons more options to repay their fines.

We partnered with researchers at the University of Virginia and University of Chicago to implement randomized controlled trial evaluations to investigate how the different prongs of the nudge intervention, either individually or in concert, affect fine accumulation and management and overall engagement with the library system.