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Published: Thursday, 5/29/2003

Library hires agency to collect overdue items

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

SWANTON - Swanton Public Library will hire a collection agency this spring in an attempt to retrieve about $5,000 in long overdue materials, becoming the second Fulton County library to use such agents.

The number of items the library is missing is typical of recent years. But because of budget crunches, the library is not buying as many materials, which makes long overdue accounts more troublesome, library director Gayle Hazelbaker said.

The same collection agency Swanton library hired has been effective for the Wauseon Public Library, which has dealt with it almost 18 months.

“It has put a stop to the very delinquent,” Wauseon library director Jody Pershing said.

Most area libraries simply send letters and make phone calls to urge patrons to return materials. But Normal Memorial Library in Fayette sometimes asks the village police to call on patrons with videos and DVDs that are more than three weeks late. The police cannot press charges for overdue library materials, but their presence alone often does the trick, assistant director Sally Canfield said.

For Swanton's tardy patrons, the measure approved by the library board this month will mean an additional $10 fine if the collection agency is called on their account.

But those who return materials next week - no matter how long overdue - can avoid all fines. The amnesty week, which falls just before the collection agency is to start work, is the first the library has held in years.

“It just seems like in the past when we would consistently [have an amnesty week] there were those folks who would just wait for it,” Ms. Hazelbaker said. “Somehow it just didn't seem fair.”

The library hired Unique Management Services, Inc., of Jeffersonville, Ind., to collect fines. It will get the $10 fine added to long-overdue accounts. The company deals exclusively with libraries.



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