I have blogged before about Brent's contribution to the Arts Council's automatic library membership projects. The evaluation report on these is now published.
The evaluation seems to indicate that Brent was right to emphasize the importance of follow up. Simply giving people cards without follow up requires little in resources, but also gives back little in results. The Brent scheme concentrated on getting cards to children through schools, and encouraging school visits.
Getting buy in from schools turned out to be surprisingly difficult. I am not sure why that is, because schools and libraries would strike me as a natural fit. Hopefully as relationships develop and word of mouth spreads, the schemes will become more popular. It is also interesting that, it was decided to become more parent focused part way through the project. It is easy to see how getting parents on board would help with engagement, but it presumably has the downside of being resource intensive.
I like the idea of a class membership card, which seems an ingenious way to overcome possible confusions in data management. Tracking the performance of the scheme effectively is obviously also crucial.
Although I tend to bang this drum a lot, I would emphasise again that this kind of innovation is only possible if you are prepared to take a positive strategic approach. If we had not had the courage to concentrate our resources on a smaller number of buildings, I don't believe that projects such as this would ever have happened.