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Library to use collection agency
Remember that book that was checked out from the library? If it’s sitting under the bed or on the bookshelf, it’s time to take it back. If not, there might be a call from a collection agency in the near future.
The Ephrata Public Library will be turning their overdue records over to Keystone Collection Agency April 1 and the consequences may be harsher than some people think. The first and second items are misdemeanors and the third item not returned could result in felony charges.
"Our goal isn’t to file criminal charges, it is to have people pay for the items they didn’t return," says library Executive Director Penny Talbert. "However, it’s an option." Those items, Talbert said, add up to over $100,000, an amount that could help the library at a time when funding is being cut from many sources.
"I think people are surprised that the library would take these steps. But the truth is, we are feeling the financial crunch and not returning a book is stealing. The misconception that it’s ‘only a library book’ is one we must dispel," said Talbert.
The first step is a phone call from the collection agency. If a patron doesn’t pay his bill after working with the collection agency, the debt can be reported to the credit bureau and charges can eventually be filed. After the debt is referred to the agency, the item will not be accepted. Payment for the item is the only option.
"We won’t be accepting payments at the library for those items turned over to collections," she Talbert. "Patrons must then deal directly with Keystone Collection."
"We’re trying to work with people who have huge replacement fines, through payment plans, but the bottom line is that they must take responsibility for the money they owe the library," she said.
Ephrata’s library is one of two in the county, along with Lancaster Public Library, to make the move towards collecting the debt owed to them. "Other libraries are watching," said Talbert. "I suspect more will come on board after Lancaster and Ephrata make sure the process runs smoothly." More LIBRARY, page A15