Report: “Why Libraries Are Giving Up On Late Fees”
In a digital world – where most of the classics can be downloaded for free, reference books are rapidly becoming a tool of antiquity and digital streaming has largely eliminated the need for a physical hub for free access to entertainment media – libraries are struggling to bring users in the door. One apparent solution, according to Curtis Rogers, a spokesman for Urban Libraries Council, is to get rid of the things that are actively driving people away.
“We’d rather have you come to the library and engage in our services,” Rogers noted.
Incidentally, most people don’t actually know this, according to Equifax – which means they get a lot of questions from panicked library delinquents worried they are about to be booted from mainstream credit markets.
“The topic has come up so frequently that we decided to include it among our credit myths,” said Nancy E. Bistritz-Balkan, spokeswoman for Equifax.
The specialty credit collectors for library fees still exist – but in 45 states, they are unable to put the fine data onto a credit report. And even in the states where they are allowed to do so, they usually don’t.
Unique Library, based in Indiana, is one such specialty credit firm. As a rule, they do not try to wreck library patrons’ credit – instead, they employ what they call a “gentle nudge” policy, aimed at inspiring people to either return their books and pay the fine, or just buy the book. They claim to have collected more than a billion dollars in fines and late fees for overdue materials on behalf of nearly 2,000 libraries in five countries.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.