Lost Library Material May Cause Restrictions

(posted Apr 4)

The Speedway Public Library Board of Trustees may develop a temporary residents' library card policy in an attempt to curtail lost materials. A policy change vote could happen at the May 6 meeting if the committee's recommendation is accepted.

Library Director Darsi Bohr raised the issue at the April 1 meeting, asking that temporary cards be reduced from one year to six months due to the financial losses from lost material. "Transient people are very bad about giving things back. They owe us thousands of dollars," Bohr said.

Currently there is no library policy on un-returned material, only a guideline.

"Why do we do it? I realize we are trying to be team players here, but if we are losing our material it sounds as though it is not working for us," President Lynda Miller said.

Bohr explained some residents live in temporary housing until they can find a home. The service is a way of welcoming people to the community until they find a home.

Board member Elizabeth Frazier said she could not imagine that many people residing in a hotel for an extended length of time. Frazier also did not think a time reduction would solve the problem.

Bohr said the transient population includes people living in motels. Some temporary residents are students or those involved with the track.

"Maybe these folks would value the use of the library if they had to buy a card," Miller said.

Bohr said she could check with legal counsel to see if it would be legal to avoid giving them a card.

"Why would it not be legal?" Miller asked.

"I am just not sure we can totally block them from access," Bohr replied. "If they are technically residing in Speedway, .... that is who we serve."

Anyone can use the electronic databases and materials, but they cannot check out materials or have access to the internet, so the materials remain available to Speedway patrons.

"We do that specifically because we are surrounded by Indianapolis and that way we make room for our people on the internet or they would be crowded out as before." Bohr recommended limiting the amount of material transient card holders could check out.

Currently patrons retaining overdue library materials are contacted by letter. "If they do not return the materials, we do use a collection agency that specializes in collecting for libraries. It is possible to take people to small claims court by Indiana Law, but it usually is not cost effective. The collection agency has been successful for us," Bohr said.

Miller suggested a resident produce a utility bill to qualify as a permanent resident. Due to the complexity involved, she assigned the matter to a committee to develop a " fair policy." Bohr will research other library system's policies concerning temporary residents.