There’s a deeper cost for when a little old library book never makes its way back to the drop box.
Towards the end of 2012, the Ferndale Public Library pulled circulation statistics and found that $40,000 worth of library material has been “lost” in the last five years alone. These are items that were checked out and never returned.
At last month’s meeting, the Ferndale Public Library Board of Trustees enacted a policy to help encourage patrons with overdue materials to return them to the library with the assistance of a collections agency.
“These unreturned materials are books or DVD’s or CD’s that can’t otherwise be enjoyed by other library patrons,” said Kelly Bennett, Director of Circulation. “This is sad in several ways. Tax dollars wind up being spent to replace these items and secondly, the patrons who currently hold these lost materials cannot use the library again until their accounts are settled.”
The Library Board voted to pass the cost of this service on to each patron. Beginning Monday, Jan. 28, any patron who owes (or has owed) the library $20 for 60 days or longer will be referred to Unique Management Services, a collection agency voted on and selected by the Board.
Bennett said, “The Board went with Unique Management Services because they've got a good track record, and their goal is to not only help you recover library materials, [but] recover patrons, too."
The new policy was developed in the name of fairness for all library patrons. The library wants to assure all patrons equal access to all materials to use or borrow, Bennett said, and materials unreturned (or subsequently unpaid lost-fines) are often replaced by money from the library’s budget.
This same money could be better used to purchase new items for patron usage instead of replacing non-returned items, she said.
The Library Board hopes this practice will encourage all library borrowers to return items by the due date. Most library items may be renewed in several ways: online, by visiting Ferndale Public Library’s website and clicking on “My Account;” over the phone by calling (888) 672-8983; or in person.
Also, 24-hour item depositories are located on the east side of the Ferndale Public Library for patron use.
Patrons will still be notified by the library should their materials be overdue by 15 days or more and beyond that they will have four to five more weeks to respond prior to being turned over for collection.
The Ferndale Public Library is serious about recovering overdue materials. Fortunately, only a very small percentage of patrons do not return materials as agreed, so the new policy will not affect the vast majority of patrons.
Unique Management Services works with libraries throughout the United States and specializes in the recovery of overdue materials and has an excellent record of treating patrons professionally.
It comes down to fairness of access. The Ferndale Public Library is committed to providing excellent service and having materials available that patrons desire.
Information provided by the Ferndale Public Library.