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How behavioral science could get people back into public libraries

Fast Company: “…“Behavioral science really asks, how do people make decisions in conditions of complexity?” says Katharine Meyer, a doctoral candidate in education policy, and a research affiliate for Nudge. “Everybody wants their kid to do well and have every opportunity to explore their interests,” she says—but some families face more constraints than others, like time, attention, and finances. Ideas42, a behavioral science nonprofit, helped gather focus groups of ordinary library users who reported the hassles they felt hindered them from easy library use, like that it was hard to keep track of fines, that reminders were too late or not received, that they didn’t know text message alerts were an option, and that they couldn’t make it to the library during regular hours. Using the information gleaned from their responses, the partnership decided to focus on improving three areas: returning books on time, library card sign-ups, and engagement with the library collections. The library card—or lack thereof—is really the first barrier to access. There was an online application for sign-up, but users then had to come into the library to activate the card, and the team noticed a drop-off in between. In spring 2017, during the first pilot period, they tested different behavioral science concepts to try to eliminate hassle factors and improve clarity…”

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