Return library materials on time to avoid additional fees

By: Robin Ruehlen | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 23, 2013

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Library patrons who have a habit of not returning materials on time — or ever — will soon be receiving calls from a collection agency.

The Bloomfield Township Public Library recently announced that, as of Feb. 1, patrons with overdue library materials or fines of $25 and greater will be referred to Unique Management Services, an agency that specializes in retrieving materials and fines for libraries.

Assistant Library Director Carol Mueller said that, due to shrinking revenue, the library needed to find an effective way to protect its resources and ensure that all residents have the opportunity to enjoy its materials.

“We do send out reminder notices before items are overdue, as well as after, but that hasn’t been as successful as we would like,” she said.

Library fees range from 25 cents per day for overdue regular books to $1 per day for overdue DVD rentals, but Mueller said the library offers a free service that residents can sign up for as a reminder to avoid fees. In addition to owing the fines, a $15 nonrefundable fee will be added to those accounts referred to the collection service.

“We do have a telephone notification system, but we’re moving more towards emails now. At checkout, patrons also receive a receipt that they can post on their fridge or calendar as a reminder,” she said.

“It’s a free service, so we encourage everyone to sign up.”

Associate Director of Birmingham’s Baldwin Public Library Matt Church said his library has used a similar collection agency for the past five years, with success.

“The agency deals exclusively with libraries, so it’s not the type that people think of when they hear ‘collection agency.’ They take a more gentle-nudge approach,” he said.

“We needed to get items returned so they could be made available to other people, and it also gave us an opportunity to generate revenue. We’ve been pleased with it, since we’ve had many materials returned and brought in some additional funds.”

When applying for a library card at the BTPL, all applicants agree to be responsible for all materials borrowed and agree to abide by library lending rules and all policies and regulations.

Any overdue account must be completely resolved and paid in full, in order to resume borrowing privileges.

For more information, call the BTPL at (248) 642-5800 or visit