The Beaufort County Library's monthlong fine amnesty didn't bring in as many items as officials hoped, so they might still hire an auditor to collect more than $100,000 worth of overdue items.
In exchange for forgiving fines, patrons turned in 1,714 overdue books, DVDs and other materials to the county's five library branches through April.
The program was recommended by the library system's board of trustees and approved by Beaufort County Council in December to try to recoup nearly $150,000 worth of missing items from about 3,000 accounts.
Almost $7,000 in late fees were waived during the amnesty, library director Wlodek Zaryczny said. Employees are still calculating the total value of the returned material.
"We wish there was more that was returned," Zaryczny said. "The intent was to recover material and put it back into the libraries, so we wouldn't have to expend funds to buy those things again."
The program also was meant to give delinquent account-holders a clean slate, so they could become active patrons again, Zaryczny said.
One patron had $222 fines, the largest single amount waived.
Another found books that were overdue by several years. When he returned them, Zaryczny said, he not only renewed his card, but opened an account for his daughter.
Those who missed the amnesty might not get the opportunity again.Zaryczny said there are no plans to repeat the program because customers might hoard material from one amnesty period to the next.
The library board will meet in July to discuss its next move. Zaryczny will provide the total value of recouped items and an updated number of delinquent accounts, board chairwoman Patsy Hand said. She said the board could recommend that an auditor be hired to track down the missing property. However, "we're reluctant to go to that type of drastic measure," Hand added.