New Library Fine Policy Involves Collection Agency
If you owe $10 in fines to the Anne Arundel County Public Library system for more than 45 days, a collection agency will be contacting you.
Do you have outstanding library fines? You might want to pay them before a collection agency contacts you on behalf of the Anne Arundel County Public Library system.
Borrowers currently owe about $750,000 in fines, according to Anne Arundel County library spokeswoman Laurie Hayes.
Look under your kids' beds, check the back of the van or behind the couch and gather all your library materials because if you owe more than $10 in fines—they will make you pay.
County libraries are instituting a new system for dealing with fines starting July 18. If your account balance is $10 or more, you will be referred to Unique Management Services Inc. to collect on the debt.
According to the new policy, there will also be other consequences for owing fines:
- A $5 (for balances under $25) or $20 service charge will automatically be added to your account balance.
- Your library account may be blocked from renewing online or checking out new materials.
“This is just another one of our efforts to not only collect fines, which we certainly do, but we want to get the materials back,” said Hayes.
If after reading this, you are suddenly thinking of all the places your children have stashed library books and are in a panic—relax. The library will take many steps to help before the collection agency contacts you.
“People will get a lot of warnings,” Hayes said. “You have to owe more than a $10 fine for over 45 days and have made no good faith effort to settle your account before you will be contacted by an agency.”
If you are signed up for email alerts the library, you get a message right before your books are due, another one after you have incurred a fine, and a few more after that. According to Hayes, you get a written letter in the mail if you still don’t pay your fine.
“After we do everything we normally do for 45 days, we will be turning over your account to a collection agency,” Hayes said. “Our main priority is to have people return materials in a timely fashion.”
Hayes said it is not the library system's intent to fine all of its patrons, and expressed that there are many ways to avoid fines.
“We are just encouraging people to return their materials,” she said. “The fines are something we count on in the revenue side; however, we are not looking for a way to charge our customers. If you follow all borrowing guidelines, then you won’t have a fine. We don’t feel like we are just levying fines on people because there are plenty ways to keep from incurring a fine.”
In order to avoid these fines, the library suggests you keep track of the due dates for your items. Note that your account is accessible by phone and online.
For complete details on the new policy, visit the library's website.