Lee County--If you don't return overdue library books, it could soon cost you more than a late fee.
Starting tomorrow, the Lee County Library will begin using a special service to crack down on people who don't return the items they borrow.
Victoria Thomas loves books, but hates the late fees that sometimes follow.
"If you get certain amount of fines, then you aren't able to them them out, and I read pretty often," she says.
Last year, unreturned books cost the Lee County library $12,000. "I feel kind of bad, but I make sure I return them though, so the library doesn't have to worry about all the lost books," she says.
There are about 50,000 books in the library and nearly 2,000 of those go unreturned each year.
"It's beginning to be more and more of a problem," says library director, Claire Leavy.
So much so, she is doing something about it. "We've hired a reminder service, a Unique Management Service, out of Indiana to send letters to make some phone calls to just remind them to bring the materials back," she says.
Books checked out for more than sixty days can ultimately hurt your credit score.
"If after Unique has tried to get the item back from a customer, and they refuse to bring it back, they will report it to one of the national credit agencies," she says.
"Sometimes I just get busy and forget about them," says Thomas.
While she doesn't forget often, Victoria plans to do an even better job of returning her books on time.
"There are a lot of people who like to read the books, and if you keep them at home, then not every body gets the same chance," she says.
Especially when they're never returned, period.
Fifteen public libraries in Georgia and 200 nationwide currently use the Unique Management Service.