Library late fee policy a standard for many years

The University’s library policy for late fees might be a mystery to some students, but the policy has been in tact since 1965, and probably won’t change according to Marybeth Zachary, head of access for University Libraries.

The policy states for every day that a local book is late, it’s a 25 cent fee.

However fines are steeper for some of the other libraries materials.

Fines can be up to 50 cents a day for Ohio Link materials, and up to 25 cents an hour for course reserves materials.

As for taking out books, undergrads can take out local books from the library for three weeks with unlimited renewals as long as there are no requests for the books.

Graduate students can take out books for a whole semester.

One problem that exists with the library’s late fee policy is that some students are not being notified that their books are late, according to Rizo Arellano, senior.

“I have had around four late fees from the library,” Arellano said. “The library e-mailed me, but it was already overdue. They should have e-mailed me right before it was due to remind me.”

Zachary says the library sends out two overdue notices via e-mail, but there is not always a set time in which the e-mails will be sent.

“It depends on what the material is,” she said. “Timelines are different for different material, you get the free 21 days and then the first overdue notice goes out within 7 days.”

However, Arellano says that sometimes the e-mails didn’t come within the first week.

Another student Meghan McPherson, senior, says it took much longer and that she never got an e-mail.

“I got a letter in the mail,” McPherson said. “But I didn’t even get it until it was a couple of weeks after it were already due.”

If late books are not returned in person, the fines go straight to bursar.

While the fines for late books aren’t going to be putting dents in students’ wallets, losing a book could.

But according to Zachary, there are ways to stop fees after an amount of time.

“If somebody tells us that there is a problem with the book, we stop any fine accumulation,” she said. “If someone thinks they lost the book or left it at home, as long as they tell us, the fines stop accumulation as of that point.”

What happens then is that a student has thirty days to try and figure out what happened to the book, Zachary said.

But if they need more time there is an option to talk to Zachary one on one to discuss how they can handle the situation.

If a student does flat out lose a book but then they find it later, there is a substantial refund that goes back to the student Zachary said.

“We don’t really want the students’ money,” she explains. “We just really want to get our stuff back.”

Although McPherson and Arellano have both received fines from the library, they both agree with the late fee policy.

“I think its fair because everyone needs books here so I agree with their decisions,” McPherson said. “Besides, all libraries have fines.”

Zachary says the chances of the late fee policy changing are slim because unless there is money attached, there is not much attention for students to return materials. But its not money they are after.

“The bottom line is we don’t need students’ money,” she said. “We just want out material to come back and sometimes it takes money to get the students attention.”

If students are unable to physically turn their book in at the library, they can either renew a book over the phone or on the libraries home page as long as it is not already overdue.

“We want people to understand to use the library without getting fines,” she said. “From that end, we make it easier for students to renew books.