Library coupons?

DH and I were looking through our mail last night, and found an advertisement from Target that included a raft of coupons. Nothing all that startling on the surface, until we realized that all of the coupons were for items that we regularly purchased at our local Target store. (We don’t use a Target card, by the way.)

On the one hand, it was vaguely creepy. (It’s a good thing we buy innocuous stuff.) Since we don’t use a Target card, I’m not sure how they knew what to send to us. Friend Charlie actually wrote about this a few years ago in his book,
The End of Privacy: The Attack on Personal Rights at Home, at Work, On-Line, and in Court. Big Brother is definitely watching.

On the other hand, it’s kind of cool. We have coupons specifically geared to our tastes and our buying habits. We can use every one of them, since they’re all relevant. As a marketing idea, it’s brilliant.

So……how could we do something like this in the library setting? I know we’re ferocious about keeping patron information confidential, but we certainly don’t have to keep it confidential from them. What if you got a flyer from your local public library, listing the titles of newly acquired books that fit your reading tastes? What if you got an email from your library with that information? What if the email had a link to place the item on hold for pickup?

One of the reasons McDonalds is successful is that they encourage their employees to adopt good ideas from other industries and adjust them for theirs. The drive-through window, for instance, was adopted from the banking industry….and is now a staple of the fast-food industry. What great ideas are out there in other industries – even those that are (gasp!) for-profit – that could be adopted for library purposes?



Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

3 responses to “Library coupons?

  1. Kathleen McEvoy

    Mary Beth,

    Have you looked at NextReads? The folks at NoveList have created a newsletter email service that is able to do all of the things you suggest. Patrons can choose from 20 genres and libraries can customize the newsletters and include local collection information as well as local events. You can go to to learn more and see a sample newsletter.

  2. Thanks for the info, Kathleen! I looked around and it looks like a wonderful service. No mention of cost, though. Does your library subscribe?

  3. Kathleen McEvoy

    NoveList and NextReads are both from EBSCO Publishing. I am the Media Communications Coordinator there so you can contact your rep or email EP for more information at

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