Your Friendly Local Library?

Libraries aren't feeling so generous about late fees

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library in Ontario was happy this summer when a book checked out during the War of 1812 was finally returned--193 years overdue. The library waived the $10,000-plus late fee. But many libraries aren't as forgiving these days, squeezing delinquent borrowers by jacking up fines, hiring collection agents, threatening jail and even sending the sheriff to knock on doors and reclaim overdue books, CDs and DVDs.

Hundreds of libraries across the nation turn over lists of recalcitrant borrowers to companies like Unique Management Services, an Indiana-based collection agency that specializes in libraries. Forget to return that book for more...

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