Starting Oct. 16, Alpena County Library will begin using the services of Unique Management Services to handle customer accounts with overdues or fines exceeding $25 that are over 40 days late.
"We are having a serious problem with people not returning items back to the library," said Director Eric Magness-Eubank. "We all lose when people don't return the things they borrow.
Magness-Eubank said the library is then forced to either buy the same materials over again or do without.
News Photo by Diane Speer
Judy Cross, circulation clerk at Alpena County Library, checks in a stack of books returned Tuesday by library patrons. Other patrons who haven’t been as diligent about returning materials borrowed from the library may see themselves subjected to a collections agency.
"It hurts the choices available to our patrons and it is important to be a good steward of public resources," he said. "Anybody can be a little late here and there, we understand that. This is about people who have long overdue items or very large fines that ignore repeated attempts to get them to bring items back to us."
The library takes several steps in notifying patrons that they have overdue items, including automated calls, calls by library staff, and mailed notices. If a person ignores these, they are turned over to Unique Management and a $10 processing fee is added to the account.
"Nobody will be turned over to Unique without warning," Magness-Eubank said. "We will always work with our patrons to solve any problem with overdues or lost items."
Anybody having problems with their library account should contact the Circulation Department at 356-6188.
Unique Management is not a traditional collection agency because its customer base consists strictly of libraries. The company partners with over 650 libraries across the United States and Canada to recover overdue materials and monies.