When you return items in the outside drop slot, we use a mechanical sorting system to get items to the shelves faster. Sometimes, however, items can get missed and make their way back to their home location while still checked out to you. If you think you've returned something that's still on your account, give us a call or contact us here. We have a shelf-check procedure designed to find missing items.
When you contact us, we'll ask you when you returned it, and where. Please wait at least 24 hours from when you returned the item, because it can occasionally take a few hours before an item is checked in.
If you accidentally returned your item to a nearby library, it will typically be sent back to us by that library with the next shipment of interloan requests. In this situation, it may take around a week to ten days before we receive it and can check it back in for you. If two weeks have passed since you returned the item to another library and it's still checked out, please contact us.
Once we have the details from you, we'll start our search process. We do two thorough searches usually about a week apart and contact you after each search.
Where do we look? We'll check around the sorting machine, search around the shelves where the item can normally be found, the display shelves throughout the library, and in our back room to make sure it's not awaiting repair. We will also check other areas where it could be shelved by mistake. For example, if we're looking for a children's nonfiction book, we will also check adult nonfiction, and if we're looking for a mystery fiction book, we'll also search in general fiction.
In the meantime, we'll ask you to double-check that you don't still have it at home. Items can slide beneath the seat of the car or get kicked under the bed or couch. Sometimes DVDs fall behind the TV, or magazines slip in-between the washing machine and dryer (it happened!). If you do find it, return it when you can and don't worry— it's a happy ending.
If after two searches we have not found the item in the library, you are responsible for the replacement cost— the price of the item plus a $4 processing and billing fee.
If you pay for the item and then find it within three months, you can bring the item back to us for a refund on the cost of the item. You will not receive a refund of the $4 processing and billing fee, or the collections fee (if any), because these are costs that the library has already incurred. If you find the item more than three months later, unfortunately we cannot offer a refund— but the copy you have is yours to keep.
Lastly, don't wait until you've been billed to ask us to check. We can sometimes extend due dates to allow for time to search, but if you've already been billed you run the risk of extra fees and your account being blocked. You can also help cut down on missing items by putting materials in the outside slot one at a time and waiting for the green light between each item— this helps space out your returns on the belt so that they get checked in properly.