By Jon Kalahar
Don't look now, but checking out books from your local library could hurt your credit. That is if you don't return them on time. The Jackson/Hinds Library System is turning to a collection agency to help recover unreturned materials and collect long overdue fines.
The Jackson/Hinds Library System isn't what it once was...literally. Due to unreturned books, CDs, movies and other materials the library is out over $500,000 in materials and fines.
It breaks down this way, more than 17,000 items unreturned at an average of $25 an item, that totals out at $535,000.
Attempts to make these collections themselves weren't effective and even an amnesty day last August didn't work.
"It is our responsibility because we want to provide the best services possible and when materials aren't returned, they aren't available for us to use or borrow," said Executive Director, Carolyn McCallum.
Executive Director, Carolyn McCallum says this has become a problem in Mississippi and across the country, and with sometimes limited funding for Jackson/Hinds they have no way to replace what's never returned. The library board voted unanimously to hire a collections agency.
"We would hope it would be encouraging to them to get the materials back to the library prior to them being turned over to collections," said McCallum.
Now collecting overdue fines is one thing, but they've got over 17 thousand items that haven't been returned and patrons here say that's just an abuse of the library. Wayne Rone favors the idea. He believe the collections will make a difference.
"The more money they collect the more they can serve the people who use the library, accumulate more books," said Rone.
Starting in January, anyone with more than 25 dollars in overdue books or fines can expect a call. Any fines unpaid after that will be a black mark on your credit report.
The Jackson-Hinds Library System isn't the only library system doing this in the state. Central Mississippi regional libraries and the Desoto system are using the same collections agency with very good results.