The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
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What’s New · Materials Recovery Frequently Asked Questions

What is Materials Recovery?
Materials Recovery is the process of retrieving overdue Library materials and collecting fines. The Library uses the services of Unique Management Services to handle accounts with overdues or fines of $25.00 or more.
Who is Unique Management Services?
Unique Management Services partners with over 650 libraries across the United States and Canada to recover overdue materials and monies. It works exclusively with libraries and understands their special needs.
What happens if I have an overdue item?
When an item is overdue 5 days, the customer is notified by the Library either through telephone or email, depending on which option was chosen by the customer. A second notice is sent on day 15, and if items are not returned by 60 days from the original due date, the account is turned over to Unique Management (when the fines or value of the items borrowed is $25.00 or more). A $10.00 processing fee is also added to the account.
When will my account be turned over to Unique Management?
If you have fines or items totaling $25.00 or more and have not paid or turned the items back in by day 60, then your account will be turned over to Unique.
What is Unique’s process for handling my account?
  • Day 60 (Day of Submission): 1st letter
  • Day 82: 2nd letter
  • Day 96-109: Initial Placement Phone Calls
  • Day 124 (Secondary Placement): 3rd letter
  • Day 138-151: Secondary Placement Phone Calls
  • Day 180-211: Credit Reported
Doesn’t it cost the Library a lot more money to use a collection agency than to pursue overdues itself?
No. The $10.00 processing fee assessed on accounts turned over to Unique defrays the costs of the service. No capital expenditure is required by the Library to use the material recovery service. Unique Management does not charge in advance.
Are overdue books and materials really a big problem?
Yes. On average, there are nearly 200,000 books and other materials overdue at any time. The value of these items is over $3 million! In addition to the dollar value, this prevents others from enjoying and using materials.
What is the average rate of return for overdue items or fines?
The average rate of return is $4.00 for every dollar invested. However, many libraries realize much more than that.
Why is the Library so concerned with overdue items?
As a good steward of public funds, we have a responsibility to protect our collection. Based on the items that Unique recovers for libraries, items long overdue tend to be the newer, most popular items. Returning them to the shelves better meets the needs of the community, while at the same time helping the Library substantially reduce its expense for collection replacement. Because our materials budget has been cut, it is even more important that we concentrate our resources on providing the most up to date materials to our customers.
What steps can I take to avoid overdues?
  1. Make sure you put your receipt in a prominent place at home after you check out items and mark the date in your planner or on your calendar.
  2. Sign up for email notification. That way, you will receive a courtesy notice emailed to your account two or three days in advance. Or, you can visit your local library and a staff member will assist you to make changes in your account.
  3. Subscribe to @ the Library, our free weekly newsletter. This is another way to track items you have checked out, as well as keep you informed about Library programs and events, new items in the collection, and any fines you may owe. You can tailor @ the Library to your interests, and anyone in your family who has an email account and valid Library card can also subscribe.
  4. Take advantage of renewals. Most items can be renewed up to three times as long as there are no holds and your account is in good standing (movies have different renewal periods). Go online and work with your account to look at items you have checked out, as well as renew items. Or, you can call your local branch or the Main Library 513-369-6979 to renew by phone.