Unique Management Services
Cuyahoga County library budgets take hit from overdue materials more than theft. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/13/2011)
Excerpt: Cleveland Public Library last year hired a national collection firm to help get its items back. The system uses alarm gates and security guards to prevent thefts, but overdue materials remain a bigger problem, said Director Felton Thomas.
The system last year hired Unique Management Services, an Indiana-based collection agency that works solely with libraries. Cleveland Public Library employes Unique when items go 60 days overdue.
Unique thus far has gotten back $550,000 in fines, repayments and returned items on $2.6 million worth of outstanding material. The company's fee for its work totals $89,000, Felton said.
Customers are not pleased to be dunned by a collection agency, but the library system has a larger responsibility to uphold, Thomas said.
"We have to be accountable to the public that provides tax dollars so that materials are available to everyone," Thomas said.
The Cuyahoga County Public Library, which has 28 branches and is the fifth-largest system in the country, no longer uses security gates, said spokesman Robert Rua. About 1 percent of the system's materials wind up missing and presumed stolen each year.
It has used Unique Management to collect from overdue customers since the mid-1990s.