Overdue Jackson-Hinds library books could mean black mark on credit

Published 5:52 pm Friday, November 23, 2007

Remember that library book that’s been collecting dust in your house since Easter? You might want to turn in and pay your overdue fines.

The Jackson/Hinds Library System is turning to a collection agency to get its items back. And people who don’t return books, DVDS or other items could find a black mark on their credit reports.

Officials say 13 percent of the system’s inventory is overdue by six months or more.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Starting Jan. 1, the library system will use Unique Management Services Inc. to recover late fees and materials. The library system is using the Indiana-based agency for a 90-day trial and then set a longer contract with the company if the results are good.

The library system has overdue accounts going back three years, said Carolyn McCallum, executive director of the library system.

People with overdue books or fines of more than $25 after 30 days will get letters and calls from Unique Management Services. The agency will place the debt on a patrons credit report after 120 days.

The library system will pay the company $8.95 per patron, which is passed on to those who owe in the form of a $10 service charge on accounts that end up in collections. More than 600 U.S. libraries use Unique Management Services, including the Central Mississippi Regional Library System and the First Regional Library System.

The Central Mississippi system has branches in Rankin, Scott, Simpson and Smith counties. First Regional has branches in DeSoto, Tate, Panola, Lafayette and Tunica counties.

The Central Mississippi system has used the agency since 2005 and has retrieved $45,202 in materials and more than $22,000 in fines and fees, library system director Kaileen Theiling said.

“It’s working out very well because we are so happy to get the items back because they are available for use for other patrons,” Theiling said.