Bringing in the Big Guns for Fines!

April 9, 2006 at 11:27 pm 7 comments

An interesting article about libraries hiring collection agencies just got posted on MSNBC. It provides a balanced view of the issue. Personally, my gut reaction is that this flies in the face of everything that I would like a library to be to its community. Realistically, I can understand the temptation to take such a drastic step.

It seems that most libraries who have resorted to using a collection service are using Unique Management Services, a company based in Jeffersonville, IN. I had never heard of them before I read this article. A quick bit of sleuthing reveals that they have partnered with TLC. You can have the services of Unique as an enhancement to your online catalog. According to the TLC web site:

Unique Management Services, Inc., a company in Jeffersonville , Indiana that partners with libraries to recover overdue funds and materials, offers its Debt Collection service to TLC customers – an efficient yet gentle way for libraries to recover funds.

I am really curious how they are more effective if they only use gentle means to collect the fines or overdue materials. It almost makes me want to get a fine at a Unique library to go through the experience of dealing with a “gentle” collection agent. I have never dealt with a collection agency, but from what I hear they are usually quite annoying and relentless and far from “gentle”. It seems that others share my doubts.

Back to the original article… they do interview the director at MPOW and it seems as if she is against the idea of a collection agency. whew.

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7 Comments

  • 1. Liz B  |  April 10, 2006 at 11:23 am

    Outstanding fines are often a barrier to library service; its one of the reasons I dislike them.

    I imagine that if a library looks at fines as a way to get people to return materials so that everyone has access to the materials, collection services would not be used because they would not serve the purpose (keep materials available to all);

    But if a library views fines as money that is part of a budget (which some do – and given various money concerns, I can understand this POV even tho I do not share it), then a collection agency is necessary.

  • 2. Liz B  |  April 10, 2006 at 11:23 am

    Outstanding fines are often a barrier to library service; its one of the reasons I dislike them.

    I imagine that if a library looks at fines as a way to get people to return materials so that everyone has access to the materials, collection services would not be used because they would not serve the purpose (keep materials available to all);

    But if a library views fines as money that is part of a budget (which some do – and given various money concerns, I can understand this POV even tho I do not share it), then a collection agency is necessary.

  • 3. Liz B  |  April 10, 2006 at 11:23 am

    Outstanding fines are often a barrier to library service; its one of the reasons I dislike them.

    I imagine that if a library looks at fines as a way to get people to return materials so that everyone has access to the materials, collection services would not be used because they would not serve the purpose (keep materials available to all);

    But if a library views fines as money that is part of a budget (which some do – and given various money concerns, I can understand this POV even tho I do not share it), then a collection agency is necessary.

  • 4. Anonymous  |  April 12, 2006 at 10:11 am

    Hi, I work for a system that uses Unique and it has worked quite well for us. I am not sure how many thousands of dollars worth of materials we have recovered (people bringing back the actual overdue item) let alone the actual money to replace items. Customers and the public actually responded quite positively to this move because they felt like their tax dollars were being well spent and the library was being responsible in a time our budgets continue to decline.

  • 5. Anonymous  |  April 12, 2006 at 10:11 am

    Hi, I work for a system that uses Unique and it has worked quite well for us. I am not sure how many thousands of dollars worth of materials we have recovered (people bringing back the actual overdue item) let alone the actual money to replace items. Customers and the public actually responded quite positively to this move because they felt like their tax dollars were being well spent and the library was being responsible in a time our budgets continue to decline.

  • 6. Anonymous  |  April 12, 2006 at 10:11 am

    Hi, I work for a system that uses Unique and it has worked quite well for us. I am not sure how many thousands of dollars worth of materials we have recovered (people bringing back the actual overdue item) let alone the actual money to replace items. Customers and the public actually responded quite positively to this move because they felt like their tax dollars were being well spent and the library was being responsible in a time our budgets continue to decline.

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