November 22, 2014

Medina
Flurries
35°F

County library will add to its collections

MEDINA — Bad borrowers beware: Late library books and outstanding fines can hurt your credit rating.

Beginning Feb. 1, the Medina County District Library will use Unique Management Services, a collection agency, to rein in missing materials and unpaid fines, library community relations manager Heather Coontz said.

“When items are lost or not returned they are not there for other patrons to check out, and that hurts our collections,” Coontz said. “We don’t have the variety.”

mg_a1cl6x123009library2lh-copyPages Kathy Hawk, standing, and Faith Gruber work together to shelve books Wednesday at the Medina Library. Beginning in February, the Medina County District Library will use a collection agency to rein in missing materials and outstanding fines. (Lisa Hlavinka / Gazette)

She said the library’s board of trustees’ aim is to encourage patrons to return items to the library because replacing books, DVDs and CDs is costly.

Statistics on the number and type of missing materials were not available Wednesday.

In July, the Medina County District Library cut $384,000 from its budget to compensate for lost funding when the state slashed $80 million from its public library fund. The cuts came on the heels of the district saving $400,000 in its budget by not filling vacant positions and changing some employees to part time.

“In this economy, we’re trying to protect taxpayers’ dollars,” Coontz said.

Unique Management Services works specifically with libraries. The Indiana-based company serves more than 1,000 libraries in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, according to its Web site.

Coontz said the library pays a fee for each name it submits to the agency, and a $10 fee will be added to the patron’s bill to pay for the collection agency’s services, she said.

Patrons with more than $25 in fines or who have items more than 60 days overdue will receive a letter from Unique Management Services. The letter will be sent after 80 days, and after 95 days, the patron will hear from the agency by phone.
At 180 days, the fines will begin hurting the patron’s credit rating, Coontz said.

“That’s in addition to the 20-day loan period, plus items can be renewed five times, so often these materials are out of the building for quite a long period of time,” Coontz said.

When an overdue item is returned, the cost of each item will be deducted from the balance, but the late fees and $10 service fee still will be owed, she said.

“Staff at the circulation desk will be sure to notify anyone with outstanding fines and give them a flier if they’re getting close to the $25,” Coontz said.

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@ohio.net.