Palo Alto, CA – In March, the Palo Alto City Library will begin using the services of a collection agency to collect long overdue fines and charges for unreturned materials. This step is being taken at the recommendation of the City Auditor’s 2007 Audit of Library Operations which noted that customers owed the City over $300,000 on their library accounts.
"The last thing I want to do is turn somebody over to a credit reporting agency," said Library Services Manager Rose Sebastian, "but we feel it's only fair to Palo Alto taxpayers to take this additional step to retrieve public money." Taxpayers face an additional burden when materials are unreturned because those items must be replaced and there is less money available to buy new materials.
The Library takes many steps to inform customers when materials are due. In addition to a check out slip, customers can opt to receive e-mail courtesy notices when items are nearly due, and an overdue notice is sent ten days after the due date. It is only after materials are eight weeks overdue that the account is turned over to Unique Management Inc., a collection agency that specializes in library collections, and a non-negotiable collection fee of $10 is applied to the account.
Customers are encouraged to use the online Library’s credit card payment system or visit the accounts desk at their local branch to settle their accounts. If needed, borrowers may establish a payment plan with the Library. The payment plan will involve a substantial initial payment, followed by regular installments until the borrower’s record is once again in good standing.
Please visit the Library web site at www.cityofpaloalto.org/library or call 650-329-2478 for more information.