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Library Retains the Services of a Material Asset Recovery Company

posted Oct 26, 2017, 1:04 PM by Rex Bain
(Moulton, AL), (Oct 26, 2017) – The Lawrence County Public Library has retained Unique Management Services (UMS) for material recovery and debt collection.  This service will go live beginning mid-to-late November for patron accounts with fines or fees which are over 30 days past due and are $25.00 or more. Currently, the patrons with fines/fees that exceed 30 days past due represents 4% of active patrons.

Each year the Lawrence County Public Library loses books. The vast majority, however, are still in the possession of the original borrower and could be returned if the borrower made a small effort.

What makes these losses especially difficult to bear is their effect on other borrowers. Imagine the frustration of a patron who desperately needs a particular volume to complete a project or some research, but finds that week after week the necessary book, according to library records, was never returned. At a time when book costs are spiraling upwards, replacing a lost or missing book can often be far more than the original purchase price.

Since 2014, the library has written off over $50,000 in patron fines and fees.  Those fines and fees are for lost materials and overdue fines patrons never paid.  Those fines and fees accumulated since transitioning to our current system in 2007.  The larger problem is the lost/damage fees.  As an example, a patron who checked out a high-demand item with a replacement cost of $153, never returned the item due in April.  The patron does not respond to attempts at contact.  As it was purchased with grant funding, the LCPL lacks the resources to replace the item without recovering the cost of the item from the patron.  

While material recovery is extremely important, it is unfortunate the LCPL lacks the resources to pursue these patrons with our current budget constraints.  With the assistance of UMS, our goal is to improve replacing lost items.  We hope many of these patrons will take the opportunity to return these items to the library before being referred to UMS. There will be a $12.00 fine assessed for patrons referred to Unique to cover associated recovery expenses.