News & Resources

Pennsylvania library reaping rewards of overdue collections

May 26, 2012 Philip Burgess

Pennsylvania's Lancaster Public Library is seeing the benefits of its recent contract with a debt collection agency to recoup library debts dating as far back as 1996, Lancaster Online reports. Over the past 18 years, the library has incurred more than $370,000 in debt for more than 20,000 unreturned items from around 7,000 people. All debtors library officials knew of had their names sent to the collection firm in April. So far, the agency has been able to collect 691 items totaling $12,720 from 398 individuals. "I think it's been going well," Kathy Leader, the library's executive assistant/circulation manager, told the news source. "We're happy with it." Most of the debt owed is not outlandish, which could be a reason for the collection agency's success. The largest amount that's been recovered so far is $200, while another patron owing $300 has set up a payment plan. The news source notes in a separate article that Lancaster is the first of the area's 14 counties to attempt such drastic measures to collect. Penny Talbert, the library's executive director, called Lancaster's library a "guinea pig," and said that the other independent libraries are watching to determine the program's success.