A recent letter to the Arlington Sun Gazette brought up the cost of replacing lost Library items.
Because our work processes can be confusing, we thought this was a good opportunity to share more information on how our lost item procedures work. The questions raised by the Sun Gazette letter include:
Why does the library charge more than a discount vendor’s (like Amazon) retail price to replace a lost DVD?
The Library’s replacement charge for any lost item is based on the item’s retail price at the time of purchase, plus the cost of processing time and materials when adding the replacement item. Most library materials purchased through these vendors are pre-processed – packaged in a Library specific DVD case, with the call number stickers already applied – and ready for circulation. So it takes quite a bit more time and effort to replace a lost library item with a replacement retail copy: a staff member must remove the material and artwork from the original case, place both in a Library specific lock-case for collection security, and attach new library ID labels, the call number and a barcode. Then another staff member creates a new item record in the library catalog, links it to the title record, and removes the record for the lost item.
Why can’t the Library just buy the replacement from a cheaper retail vendor?
Arlington County purchasing regulations require that we regularly bid materials contracts, and make all materials purchases only from vendors authorized through that process.
Do fines and fees go to the Library budget or the County general fund?
The fines and fees collected annually by the Library – a tiny proportion of our operating budget – are sent to the County’s general fund. That amount (plus much more) then comes back to us in the County’s annual budget appropriation for the Library.
Can a patron replace the item by purchasing and bringing in a new copy of the item and paying a (smaller) fine to cover the cost of processing?
Library Materials and Technology Division says
Because the Library purchases materials pre-processed from its suppliers, we do not accept replacements in-kind for lost or damaged materials. Patrons can always request to speak to a manager if they have questions about assessed replacement charges.
This article is very informative. I would appreciate more articles like this that briefly explain frequently asked library policy questions. Thank you.