The Chandler Public Library is working hard to make sure that all of the books, music and movies that are borrowed by the public get returned. There is a series of steps involved in the return process in order to recover items that have been checked out and are overdue.
The number of books, CDs and DVDs that go unreturned every year is anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500. Chandler Public Library Services Coordinator Peter Perreault said that the number was “quite small” considering the fact that there are about 80,000 active users and a total circulation of about 2 million items per year. “Approximately one tenth of one percent of checked out items per year are not returned,” Perreault said.
The first step in the return process is to e-mail a library user (if their e-mail was provided) with a reminder about the due date two days prior to it. If the items have not been returned two days after the due date, then an e-mail is sent out with an overdue notice.
Ten days after the due date, the customer receives a phone call and another overdue e-mail. After 21 days the process changes a bit, and customers are contacted through the mail, and with another overdue e-mail. These notifications inform library members that the items are now considered lost and that the customer may be responsible for paying the replacement costs along with a processing fee.
Thirty-five days after an item is not returned, the customer receives another letter and e-mail telling them again that they could be responsible for overdue fees and that if the fees are not paid or the item is not returned, then the account might be referred to a collection agency. At this point, the customer has been notified up to eight times.
All of the library staff is trained to handle customer questions regarding overdue materials on their account. E-mails are automatically generated and sent out, giving the employees more time to specialize in direct customer service.
After 45 days, any items and material not returned are considered to be lost and the library member is now fully responsible for paying the replacement cost of every overdue item checked out plus a processing fee. Depending on how much the items cost, the account may be turned over to a collection agency for further action.
Perreault said that library members with overdue materials who do not clear their account in full after it goes to collections will have a debt reported to the credit bureaus.“We use a collection agency as a last resort,” he said, “but we have a responsibility to the citizens and taxpayers of Chandler to protect their investment.”