Sending email alerts via GMAIL : a marriage of convenience or is it???

Library professionals using Koha ILS quite naturally want to send email alerts of circulation details, due date reminders, overdue notices etc to the patrons / users / customers of their libraries. Google’s GMAIL free email service seems to provide an alluring option:

  • gmail is *huge*! Everyone and their uncle is on gmail – resulting in almost instantaneous delivery of emails.
  • anti-virus, anti-spam facilities that are almost second to none.
  • and most importantly,  it is FREE (as in the proverbial lunch, supported by ads that google places on its web mail interface).

It is ridiculously easy to set up Postfix email server to use GMAIL to relay (i.e. send out the emails to the actual recipients) the email alerts generated by Koha. Endless tutorials exist online. Sounds like a perfect match! A Free Software ILS and a free email service, what could be better!

However, Google is a business entity and they are here to make money – for their shareholders, and over the years Google has been slowly cutting down on the number of emails you can send out in a day. If you hit the daily mail quota limits, Gmail will quietly disable email sending from your account for 24 hours. Do it too often, they may (and do) suspend your email account.

“A marriage of convenience, is neither a marriage nor a convenience!”

No, it won’t hit you at first when you are testing the setup or when you have low circulation figures. However, as you roll out and keep expanding services, the number of alerts you need to generate to provide an even more improved user experience, you are likely to end up hitting those quota. I kid you not!