Arlington Library Joins Forces With Collection Agency


(Saturday, August 25, 2007 8:52 AM EDT)

All you Arlington library patrons with overdue materials and fines, the day of reckoning is drawing near

Starting this fall, the Arlington Public Library will be contracting with Unique Management Services collection agency to more aggressively work to recover long-overdue library items and unpaid fines.

“Our main goal is to recover materials, to have them available for other patrons who want them,” said materials and technology management division chief Maureen Karl.

Currently, the library notifies patrons of overdue items when they are 10 days past due, and again when they are 25 days past due.

Now, if an item is 45 days past due and a patron has a balance between $25 and $1,000, the library system will forward the account to Unique Management Services, adding a $10 service charge to the total fine.

“Other libraries that use this service, as well, have found that 60 to 70 percent of patrons who are contacted by Unique Management come and settle their accounts at the library,” Karl said.

Accounts with a balance of $1,000 or higher will be submitted to the county treasurer's office, whose powers of collection have become legendary.

Once the past-due clock reaches 172 days, information on delinquencies will be turned over to a national credit bureau.

Library officials said they chose to contract Unique Management Services because it specializes in libraries.

“We don't want to take too hard of an approach,” Karl said. “[Unique Management Services] does a good job of professionally approaching customers, and the customers come to the library to settle their accounts.”

Currently, library staff are in the process of printing fliers and bookmarks to publicize the changes. An informational video can be viewed on the library Web site.

For those who want to avoid dealing with overdue materials and fines, Karl recommends signing up for e-mail notifications.


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