PCPL Board has fine time with collection

Friday, May 19, 2006

It may be under the couch cushions. It might be behind the television stand or even under the freezer. The point is, that elusive library book has just got to be somewhere in the house.

Despite some patrons best intentions, occasionally Putnam County Public Library books, movies and other materials find themselves suspended in overdue limbo.

That's where staff say collection agency Unique Management, a Jeffersonville business, helps reunite those lost or misplaced taxpayer purchased items with the browsing public.

Between January 1999 and December 2005, PCPL has collected $20,177 in cash from fines and $38,000 worth of recovered materials. At a cost of $13,659, that means the library has benefited by $44,518 from the service.

Although for Library Director Alice Greenburg, the most important thing is bringing the materials back into the public use.

"We are trying to be responsible about making the materials available to everyone, and if they are kept overdue, then they are not available," she said.

Everyone has an occasional lapse and forgets to turn in a book or movie, she said. But in order for a patron to be sent to collections, he or she must have accrued at least $25 worth of overdue fines.

"This is not nickel and dime stuff," Greenburg said.

According to the Unique Management website, the agency collects a fee of $4.95 from the library when an account is opened. If extra work is required to close the account or finish the collection, then Unique Management keeps a percentage of the collected amount.

At a recent PCPL board meeting, Greenburg explained to members that although the library has to pay for the services, more funds are collected than if they did not subscribe to the service, because the library staff lacks the manpower to collect fines and missing materials on their own.

Meanwhile at that meeting, board members Drew Brattain, Bonnie Nealon, Glen Gill, Dorothy Lukenbill and Rebecca Barham approved a measure to change the library's budget from what had been advertised to the public.

Greenburg said while figuring that budget, an amount of $22,962 had been deducted twice and so it was less than was actually needed. Since the actual budget approved by the state includes that $22,962, she said the library would receive the money in County Adjusted Gross Income Tax.

Also, the board voted to appoint Glen Gill and Ken Heeke to the budget committee and Vicki Timm and Bonnie Nealon to the committee to nominate new officers.

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