Yakima Valley Libraries says over a thousand accounts in collections

YAKIMA VALLEY, Wash. -- Overdue books are costing the local library thousands of dollars. That's because more than a thousand users aren't paying the fines. It's the same for books that are damaged or lost.

Ten cents a day is what the library charges for overdue books. It doesn't seem like much. But, a lot of people aren't paying their fines. And, it's not petty cash.

This year alone, Yakima Valley Libraries sent more than 1,300 accounts to collections to try to recover almost $124,000.

Thomas Simpson lives in Yakima.

"It's a boatload of money. That's absurd."

But, not unprecedented. The library system sent outstanding fines to collections in 2012. Not just for overdue books, but also material that's been lost or damaged.

"We need to do our due diligence and make sure that we collect money to pay for those damaged materials or encourage people to bring the books back on time," said Yakima Valley Libraries Director, Kim Hixson.

So far this year, the collections agency has recovered more than $21,000. People have paid back about $58,000. That leaves more than $45,000 still unpaid.

The library pays to replace the books. That missing money keeps the inventory from growing.

"We would have to spend less on other new books and replace something that somebody wanted and didn't bring back to the library," said Hixson.

Anyone who forgets to return a book after 28 days gets two overdue notices and a warning before the account goes to collections for the cost of a replacement.

Simpson's advice?

"Maybe people need to get on it and turn their things on time."

It could save you an unwanted call from the collections agency down the road. And, the library thousands of dollars.