NH Library Uses Collection Agency

The ResourceShelf Guy sends "this article from thewmurchannel.com about the Nashua (NH) Public Library's use of a collection agency to recover missing materials.
"I think in the last year, that added up to about $25,000 worth of material," librarian Carol Eyman said. "I think 1,500 different items are not returned.""


I'd like to show this to the guy who was making a big deal over a "just ten cent" fine the other day. We use the fine money to pay our pages. We could get a lot of books shelved for the chunk of change the collection agency is taking in.

$25,000 a year is a lot of money, especially for a library. Fact is, those ten, twenty-five and fifty cent fines add up, as well as the damaged books, lost books, etc. My biggest pet peeve (okay, well, one of them) is that because libraries give out "free books" seemingly intelligent adults seem to think it takes no money to run a library. The fact that this is reported as a news story on tv station is sort of proof of that... Why is it local news that a library is trying to get back what is their property? Shouldn't that be par for the course?

There is no free lunch.

Sure, I get a little upset when students fail to return shiny new books on the most popular subjects. Its a hassle to replace and re-process.

However, sometimes there are books outstanding that I don't want to replace due to age, or to the interest factor. And the recovery cost goes into our coffers to purchase maybe something a little more up-to-date or relevant.

In fact, I rely on lost book fines as a significant supplement to my general fund budget.

So there are books you'd actually be happy to see lost, as long as they are paid for? I'm not asking this question in a critical or judgemental way, I'm just trying to draw a conclusion that seems to be warranted.

If a student loses a book that was purchased in say, 1964, for 3.95, I may be looking at an additional $20 for it today. Therefore, book loss is a profitable venture for the school district. So I am inclined to see how you would draw your conlcusion.

I am sorry to look at the issue in such a corporate way, but I am doing what ever I can to improve my collection for the best value.

Theft is just random weeding. Sometimes it is effective, sometimes not.

When old titles that would have been weeded by a librarian are stolen and the replacement fees paid the library wins.
When new items are stolen and must be replaced the library breaks even, or even loses a little.

Although most libraries prefer to do the weeding themselves.

I should not have omitted the part about weeding in my last comment! But since you brought it up...

I weed very systematically, but there is no way that I could refresh the collection at the recommended (by our accrediting agency) rate of 5% per year and still maintain the 10 book per student minimum. So I weed very lightly!

I am sorry to look at the issue in such a corporate way, but I am doing what ever I can to improve my collection for the best value.

It makes sense. I wasn't faulting you at all. In fact, it seems to me as if you are being alert and creative in recognizing the upside of the theft of the older items. You're just thinking the situation through more completely than most of us would. :-) And in saying this I'm not condoning theft at all, nor do I take you to be doing so either.

I think it just all comes down to a sense of responsibility. If it was a book that they were going to return to a bookstore (after having read it) - you bet they would remember their receipt
in order to get their full refund. Yeah, I used to work at one of those places too.

And yes, I did have a patron who thought libraries got their materials for free. sigh.

Yes... I had a woman the other day ask me whether publishers sent libraries the books before they hit bookstores. When I said no, she said "Oh... I just assumed that since they send you copies of everything free, you got them sooner, too." I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry...

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