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September 07, 2004

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The Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS)engages in the questionable practice of sending late fees to collection agencies.
I went to the library yesterday (Feb. 8) trying to find out why the account was blocked for online downloads, and was told that it was sent to collection agency 3 days earlier (Feb. 5), for $42.00 of late fees (incurred on Nov. 11)on videos. This was the first time that I was told that I had late fees at all. I was so shocked and hurt by this news that I immediately paid the $42.00.
Then I found out that as soon as they receive payment, the Hawaii State Public Library completely removes all evidence of what was borrowed and when. The only record of what happened is that I had fines, I was sent to collection, and I paid. This is supposedly for my privacy, but now apparently no one can look at the record to see how it happened. The only thing I can figure is that the videos were not renewed as they should have been when I called in to renew them for one week. But that information is gone now, while I am left with "collection debt" for 7 years to come!
To make things even worse, I tried talking to the librarian about it and she was very unfriendly, unhelpful, even downright rude. She suggested that my child had stolen the 2 notices that the library had supposedly sent by mail. She purposefully made false statements just trying to blow me off, and when I confronted her she said she didn't know why she said it. She left me on hold indefinitely and then hung up the phone. I called back and then she hung up again while I was trying to say "thank you" for her statement that she would email the collection agency to tell them that I had paid the $42.00.
All I asked from her was to contact the collection agency and request that my name not be submitted to the credit reporting agencies, but she smugly insisted that she could not do that. I don't think this is true either.
The reason this is so important to me is that I am a single parent who has put myself through school to be able to support my children. I am a librarian who WAS planning to start looking for a new job and place to live on the mainland where the cost of living is affordable! We live in a poor neighborhood because that is all I can afford for us, even though I make what most would consider a decent salary. The only hope for getting out of poverty is to move to the mainland. But now because of being sent to a collection agency I am probably condemned to 7 years of being turned down for credit, jobs, and housing. All of this because of some unknown $42.00 LIBRARY LATE FEES? Does this seem right to anyone?

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