Managing Overdues: A How‐to‐do it Manual for Librarians

Khalid Mahmood (University of the Punjab)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 August 2000




Mahmood, K. (2000), "Managing Overdues: A How‐to‐do it Manual for Librarians", Library Review, Vol. 49 No. 6, pp. 303-310.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This monograph covers a topic that is very important but seldom discussed in the literature of librarianship. Some articles on the topic have been published in the professional journals, but this is perhaps the first book‐length treatment. Each lending library has to face the problem of books that are returned late, or never returned at all. Dealing with this problem is both time‐consuming and costly, and until now there has been no effective strategy to manage this problem.

This book, a collection of papers by senior professional librarians, presents proven strategies to deal with the problem of library overdues. The book is divided into three parts. Part 1, “Long Overdue: New Methods for Retrieving Overdue Books”, begins with Henry Dutcher, who describes his experience as Springfield, Massachusetts city librarian in using the courts to get long‐overdue items back. In the second chapter, Judy Fuss, systems administrator for the Williamsburg (Virginia) Regional Library, details her success using an electronic notification system to speed up the return of overdue materials. In the next chapter, Melody Moxley and Jeff Hall of the Rowan Public Library (Salisbury, North Carolina) tell how they used a credit bureau to help get overdue items back. Susan Swanton of the Gates Public Library (Rochester, New York) used a collection agency for this same purpose.

Part 2, “The Taxman and the Lottery: Using Setoff Programs to Collect Overdue Accounts”, describes different approaches to using a state’s setoff debt programme for dealing with patrons who have long‐term overdue items. Setoff debt programmes allow debts to be paid from money that a state owes its citizens. Judy Fuss tells how the Williamsburg Regional Library used this system. Sharon Winters describes how she used her local government apparatus to tap into a setoff debt program. Susan Johns explains how a library that is a state agency uses a state setoff debt programme. Part 3, “More about Managing Overdues”, features Julie Walker’s update of the “do fines help reduce overdues?” debate. Terry Prather has compiled an excellent selective bibliography on overdues, with annotations of about 80 items given under major subheadings of the topic.

Like other monographs in the series, this is also a manual for practical dealing with the problem. This manual is highly recommended for all librarians/library managers working in lending libraries.

Related articles