Libraries Turn to Collections Agencies

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Some libraries around Wisconsin are taking a cue from the L.E. Phillips Public Library in Eau Claire.

They're enlisting in the help of collection agencies to get a small percentage of patrons to return their overdue materials.

The Eau Claire Library has worked with a private collection agency since December of 2003.

Even now, they end up sending letters to nearly 100 borrowers per month saying their outstanding fees could be turned over to the agency.

"If those numbers start decreasing," Circulation Manager Laura Miller said, "it may not be worth the time and effort ot have the collection agency take these steps to get the materials back."

The library pays almost $600 for the service, but ends up getting some $1,200 back in materials and fines.

Most of the patrons simply have one or two overdue materials, though librarians say one man, who they've sent a collections letter to, has 73 that have not been returned.