Persons with overdue books from the Will Rogers Library may want to return them before the new year.

Will Rogers Library director Fernando Este and the library Board last month agreed to use a collection agency to encourage patrons with overdue materials to return them to the library.

Unique Management Services, an agency that works with libraries throughout the U.S. and abroad will be used on a trial basis by the library, in hopes of discouraging the non-return of library materials.

“This is a problem we’ve always had to deal with, and it’s gotten to the point that the okaying of a collection agency was a viable option for dealing with it,” Este said.

Typically, when an items is past due at the library, up to three notices are issued — one every two weeks — until the item is returned.

Even so, many items are never returned — a trend that Este hopes to turn around with the new policy.

The library will still send three notices to patrons indicating that their materials are overdue, but patrons not responding by the third notice may be turned over for collection.

“We developed the new policy and chose to use a collection agency with fairness to all of our patrons in mind,” Este said. “Materials not returned are unavailable for others to check out — instead of using our budget to purchase new items, we have to use funds to replace items that disappear, and that’s unfair to all of our patrons.”

Unique Management Services specializes in the recovery of overdue materials and have an excellent record of treating patrons professionally.

The library will being use Unique Management Services after the first of the year, with a 90-day trial period, after which, Este said he anticipates the approval to use the agency full-time.

Este said that since 2000, the library has had almost $37,000 in materials checked out and not be returned.

As to why so many items have disappeared, Este still scratches his head.

“I genuinely don’t know why people will check something out and not bring it back for other people to enjoy,” he said. “I understand that things happen — people forget, people move and forget to bring back a book, etc. — but it impacts everyone who uses the library.”

Este said he hopes this practice will encourage all library borrowers to return items by the date due.

Most library items may be renewed by phone or by bringing the item with the patron's library card for presentation at the circulation desk.

Also, a book drop for returning material when the library is closed is available at the library.

“We’re serious about recovering overdue materials,” Este said. “ Fortunately, only a very small percentage of patrons using the library do not return materials as agreed — those who do not return materials are basically stealing from us, and affecting everyone’s ability to take full advantage of all the library has to offer.”

The Will Rogers Library at 1515 North Florence is open 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.