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Overdue? Library collection agency is coming for you

"The Sno-Isle Library system may not charge fines on overdue materials, but they are serious about getting people to check their shelves and return the books on dieting, ancient history, fiery romances and all the others materials they checked out but never returned.Mary Kelly, the community relations manager for the Sno-Isle Regional Library System, said that over $250,000 worth of books, videotapes and other library materials are checked out and not returned to the 20 community libraries. The libraries in Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Freeland and Langley are all part of the two-county library system.To encourage people to return the overdue materials, or pay for them if they are lost, Kelly said Sno-Isle has hired a unique collections agency that specializes in working with libraries. The appropriately named Unique Management Services has been fairly successful in getting materials back when working with other libraries, she said.Unique Management will first notify library customers in writing when materials are past six weeks overdue. If the materials are still not returned, the naughty patron will get a second letter, followed by a phone call from Unique Management Services.The idea is that people might take letters and phone calls from outside agencies more seriously, Kelly said.At that point, Kelly said the library won't do anything to patrons' credit history even if they don't return or pay for overdue books. But a patron's library card is frozen and can't be used if he or she has materials that are six weeks overdue.For slow readers out there, Kelly pointed out that patrons can renew books for three weeks and avoid becoming overdue by calling the library or going on the Internet at sno-isle.org.The Sno-Isle system services more than 550,00 residents in Snohomish and Island counties. Services and materials include 1.5 million items, reference services, electronic databases and equipment, Internet access, outreach programs for homebound and local day cares, and storytime and other programs for children. "

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