The December 2007 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter covered the new business relationship between Checkpoint Systems and 3M, where 3M will assume marketing and support for Checkpoint's RFID and security products targeting libraries. Checkpoint continues in the library arena by offering a new service called Youniquely4U, designed to help libraries market their services and promote targeted resources to their patrons. Youniquely4U is the flagship product of the Patron Services Division of Checkpoint Systems, Inc.
Checkpoint formed its Patron Services Division in 2006 under the leadership of Michael Jermyn, who joined the company that year. One important concern for librarians today involves the need to offer personalized services to library patrons. Checkpoint designed Youniquely4U as a new product to assist libraries in this quest to deliver content tailored to each patron's interests and needs, and to promote library programs and services.
The product works in conjunction with the check-out transaction at the circulation desk, determining categories of the patrons' interest based on the classification of the library materials being checked out. Based on this information, the system channels patrons to related activities and content, both in-person and through the Web.
When a patron checks out library materials, color printers create the return receipt for the materials along with information promoting the Youniquely4U service, branded as the “VIP Patron Program” and the URL for the library's own Web site. The receipt also includes a category code that can be entered on the Youniquely4U Web site to direct the patron to focused content and advertising. The categories currently programmed into the service include: family, young adult, small business, smart money, personal technology, health care, home improvement, pet care, hobbies, fitness and wellness, cultural offerings, local offerings, and fiction. When a patron initially registers on the Youniquely4U site, the system activates categories based on the codes entered. The patron can also manually select or deselect categories.
Once signed in to the Youniquely4U Web site, library patrons can select any category from the menu. When invoked, each of the top-level menus will display sub-menus of additional sub-categories. Advertisements appear in selected categories, usually with a button inviting the patron to receive a coupon or special offer. The primary content of the system consists of resource links that connect the user to content from the library's electronic subscriptions, selected Web sites, or commercial destinations. The Youniquely4U Web site carries its own prominent branding, though it also sports the logo of the library associated with the patron. As with other targeted advertising environments, the counter-balance involves protections against intruding into personal privacy. The category code generated by Youniquely4U is tied to the items borrowed and not to demographic information about the patron, thus diminishing concerns about patron privacy. The service does not read any personal data related to the patron's transaction, so it sees neither the title nor the name of the person checking out the resources.
The business model for Youniquely4U involves annual subscription fees paid by libraries to Checkpoint to license the service, as well as revenue derived from the targeted advertising on the Youniquely4U Web site. Checkpoint scales the cost of the software according to the size of the library and the number of active registered borrowers.
Businesses pay advertising fees to have their coupons distributed by the library through the Youniquely4U service. The library can receive a portion of the revenue stream generated from the advertising, depending on the deal constructed with the partner. The library also can offer free promotions to local businesses. By year-end 2007, about 50 libraries had subscribed to Youniquely4U. Subscribing libraries include the East Brunswick Public Library and the Wayne Public Library in New Jersey, Terrebonne Parish Library and Ouachita Parish Public Library in Louisiana, and the Frisco Public Library in Texas. According to public documents, in February 2007 the Rangeview Library District in Adams County, Colorado, serving a population of about 250,000, approved spending up to $41,000 to fund their implementation of Youniquely4U.
Checkpoint created Youniquely4U in partnership with Blue Iceberg, which created the interactive Web-based infrastructure for the product.