McAllen Library Expecting to Recover Materials, Collect Late Fees
MCALLEN – The McAllen Public Library expects to recover some of the lost and overdue materials.
The amount owed is enough to pay off a college loan or a luxury car.
One Valley librarian says it's time to either pay up or put back.
CHANNEL FIVE NEWS took a closer look at how much money the McAllen Library is owed and what's being done to collect.
With a discriminating glance and a book tucked in her arm, Yolanda Salinas browses the stacks at the McAllen Public Library.
"I don't like all the authors, just some. I always try to get the new copy of whatever she writes, or I ask for it," she says of Danielle Steel books.
She tries coming here a couple times a week. Sometimes, she can't find what she's looking for.
"I like a lot of books. So, sometimes I order them or come here, and they don't have them because they weren't returned," she says.
Library Director Kate Horan knows the importance of recuperating those overdue and lost materials.
Here's how their late fees work. For every day that a book or a CD is late, you'll owe 10 cent. But, for each day that a DVD is late, you'll owe 50 cents.
Once your account acquires a $1 fee, you won't be able to check out anymore items until you pay it.
There's a strategy to that, explains Horan. "Some libraries will make it a lot higher. They'll make it $15 or $20. I feel like it's a lot harder for people to come out with $15-20 out of their pockets than to just go ahead pay that dollar fine," she says.
Even so, late fees happen. In total, borrowers owe the library about $48,000.
Most people don't owe too much. Even Salinas has had to pay.
"Yes, sometimes. But, just nickels not too much," says Salinas.
In fact, of all late accounts, about 50 percent owe just $2.
There are some that owe a lot more. We called one up.
According to city records, the highest single charge was for $75. One person owes a combined amount of about $110.
She tells us she can't recall whether it's accurate, but not much else.
The amnesty program already surpassed its goal so far.
"We wanted to have 1,000 items come back. We've already passed 4,000 items. About 410 of those have been long overdue. They've already been marked as lost. If we were to repurchase those items that would be over $7,000 worth of materials,” Horan explains.
The last thing Horan wants is to let these late fees keep the public from coming to a place designed for gathering.
There are other ways the library allows people to pay back their debt. They have a 'Read Down Your Fines' and a 'Food for Fines' program throughout the year.
One thing that has also helped reduce lost items is their e-books, which automatically expire from a mobile device.
The amnesty program ends May 13.