Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Aren't They Going To Find It Difficult Then?

Debt collectors will soon be used by libraries in Ongar, North Weald and further afield to target those who fail to pay their late fees.

Those who don't return their books, DVDs or CDs on time could soon find themselves being harried by an American company which specialises in recovering library fines.
OK, I see nothing wrong with this in principle, but this is a little puzzling, to say the least:
The Gazette asked the county council, under the Freedom of Information Act, how many fines remained unpaid, although the authority said it could not provide this information because it was "not held".
Then how on earth are you going to instruct the firm..?


Anonymous said...

Bailiffs knock on the door of an old lady:

We understand you have 10p outstanding on your library book, if you can't pay we are instructed to seize your entire Mills and Boon collection

Mr Ecks said...

One smallish town/area.

An American firm?

Library fines?.

Maybe a few thou in that at most.

Why is it worth bothering with unless it is a small part of a larger canvas.

These Yanks collecting all library fines UK-wide. That would be more like it altho' still seems like a peanutty business for an int'l firm.

Tell 'em to fuck off anyway.

Lynne said...

Or they could do what my local library does and waive the fees altogether. The library staff are content to see the items returned, which they mostly are because there are no longer any late return fees for people to worry about.


Are we to assume that the cost of the collection agency will be lumped on to the late fees like bailif fees are charged to late payers of council tax? Must people now be made too frightened to use any frigging library service in case they fall ill and/or forget to return items by their due date?

What twisted mind thought this bastard of a plan up?

Bobo said...

As a qualified librarian, albeit not a current practitioner of the Duodecimal Art, I can expound with some authority on this matter:-

Library stock is quite costly, even after whatever discounts the local authority or whoever has negotiated with the supplier: hardback books,textbooks, DVD's, etc etc. Non-return or outright theft of items can cost huge sums a year.

The whole Free Library system operates on trust and, as such, is open to abuse: even to organised exploitation.

The issue of sanctions is a thorny one, but nowadays most librarians would favour a 'block' on further lending until the culprit has returned the item, or paid a replacement charge if the item is lost or destroyed.

Myself, I favour drone-targeted Hellfire missile strikes. it might seem a little disproportionate, but it is proven to stop recidivism (see my article in the British Library Association Journal, vol.LXII, June 2007: 'Friendly Fire Casualties & The First Strike Doctrine of Fine Collection: An Acceptable Collateral?')

Tattyfalarr said...

Freedom Of Information, my a*se.

There's a huge difference between what a council keeps record of and what they will admit to keeping to keeping records of, never mind let US know about. ;)

Mrs Erdleigh said...

Going way off topic, have you seen this?


Your victim poker hand is worthless now!

A salt and battered said...

@ Tatty

Very true. Local councils have copied police methods of rendering FOI requests, ineffective.

Mrs Erdleigh said...

Full link, sorry

Captain Haddock said...

I was in my local library a couple of weeks ago, when a very scruffy "hippy" type female, looked to be in her 20's, ambled in & deposited a pile of books on the "return" counter and then simply walked off ..

One library assistant checked the books and told her colleague that there was almost £20.00 owing in fines .. only to be informed that this person gets her books "on prescription" and doesn't need to worry about such things ..

I'd never heard of this facility before .. anyone throw any light on it ?

I renew or reserve my library books online .. and whilst I appreciate that not everyone has internet access .. there are far more "silver surfers" around these days ..

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Really, a bunch of bananas to the first police helicopter that attends a library book related incident.

Tattyfalarr said...

Captain Haddock...I hand't heard of it either but google is my friend...see here:


"GPs and other health professionals prescribe books from a list of high quality self-help manuals selected by experienced mental health practitioners."

Which goes some way to explaining the appearance of the borrower *smirk*

No mention of fines...

jaded said...

Congratulations Melvin on turning a story about libraries into another anti-police dig.
I here that Julia's next post will be about turnip production in pre-war Hungary,try and get a dig in on that subject.

jaded said...

Oh crap I wrote "here" instead of "hear".
Please mention the police's general lack of education.I deserve it.

Call me Pedant said...

I can help you 'hear', Jaded.

Sentence spacing and sentence structure errors are equally deserving of a low intelligence rating.

JuliaM said...

"Why is it worth bothering with unless it is a small part of a larger canvas."

I wonder if it's 'tacked on' to a much larger contract, perhaps for enforcing other fines?

"Must people now be made too frightened to use any frigging library service in case they fall ill and/or forget to return items by their due date?"

I don't think it's the little old lady whose Mills & Boon is two weeks overdue because she's frightened to go out in the snow (and you could always renew over the phone in any case). It's the people Bobo describes, the organised thieves.

"The whole Free Library system operates on trust and, as such, is open to abuse: even to organised exploitation."

Yup, and adding CDs and DVDs to their stock simply increased the opportunity for the unscrupulous.

"Your victim poker hand is worthless now!"

That's a very interesting case! I'll be keeping an eye on it - will be interesting to compare punishment (if guilty) with the recent Tower Hamlets poster case...

JuliaM said...

"I hand't heard of it either but google is my friend...see here"

Nope I've heard everything!

Anonymous said...

into another anti-police dig

He'd fall himself downstairs if he thought there was an anti-police story to be had from it.

Captain Haddock said...

Jaded .. you should well know, by now, that Melvin (aka A Salt & Battered, Trevor etc) will home in on any mention of the police .. like a pirhana on a recently discarded sanitary towel ..

Captain Haddock said...

@ Tatty ..

Thanks for that .. at the time, I doubted my own sense of hearing ..

As Mr Littlejohn is wont to say .. "You couldn't make it up" .. ;)