Materials Recovery Program

Starting January 1, 2013

The Detroit Public Library (DPL) has contracted with a collection agency to assist in recovering non-returned library materials and unpaid fines.  This new materials recovery program was established to encourage DPL customers to return books and other materials on time.


  • Beginning January 1, 2013, All unresolved accounts over $25 will be turned over to the collection agency, Unique Management Services, Inc.
  • A service charge of $10.00 will be added to the customer's balance.


What happens when items are due?

One Week Past Due:

  • DPL sends you an overdue notice via phone or email

Two Weeks Later:

  • DPL sends you another overdue notice via phone or email

45 Days Past Due:

  • DPL sends you a "bill," which is an itemized list of items overdue plus replacement costs and/or outstanding fines.

60 Days Past Due:

  • If your account balance equals $25 or more, DPL forwards your unpaid account to Unique Management Services, Inc., a library materials recovery agency.
  • A service charge of $10 is added to your account.
  • Unique Management Services will contact you to request the return of the overdue materials and payment of all outstanding charges.
  • Over the next 120 days the collection agency will make multiple attempts to contact you.  If you do not return the overdue materials and complete or establish a payment plan, your account will proceed to the next stage listed below.

180 Days Past Due:

  • Unique Management Services reports your overdue account to a credit reporting agency which may affect your credit rating for up to seven years.



1. Why is the Detroit Public Library (DPL) using a collection agency?

In round figures, approximately 40,000 items are checked out and never returned each year, costing roughly $500,000.  The loss of property taxes in the recession reduced DPL's ability to buy new items by 60%, however, prices continue to rise.  The Detroit Library Commission approved a collection agency to improve item return and/or payment of replacement costs.


2. Why choose Unique Management for the collection agency?

Unique Management specializes in working with library customers.  They have perfected a gentle approach to contacting library customers that focuses on being polite, non-threatening, and stressing the customer's best interest is contact the Library and resolve the issue.  Their success with this approach allows Unique Management to be the largest provider of collection agency services to U.S. libraries including many large, urban public libraries.


3. What is a "bill"?

It is the third notice DPL sends a customer about unreturned items and/or unpaid fines.  The "bill" is an itemized list of items overdue plus replacement costs and/or outstanding fines.  The Library's contract with Unique Management specifies the bill is sent to the customer 45 days after the item was due or the fine accrued.  At 60 days DPL will turn all unpaid bills totaling $25 or more over to Unique Management for collection.


4.  Will juveniles be sent for collection?

Yes.  Items checked out on juvenile cards account for roughly 1/3 of DPL's circulation.  That is too big a chunk of overdue items and unpaid fines to ignore.  However, Unique Management will treat juveniles slightly different from adults.

Unique Management will not report juveniles to credit reporting bureaus.  If an adult's bill cannot be resolved, the adult is reported to the credit reporting bureaus.  If a juvenile's bill cannot be resolved, only the name of the parent or responsible adult appearing in DPL's records is reported.


5.  What customer information does DPL send Unique Management?

The customer's name, address, telephone number(s), and e-mail address plus dollar total on the bill.  Unique will not see the itemized bill listing each title overdue and every outstanding fine.

For more information on the Materials Recovery Program, please call 313-481-1400 or visit




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