Students upset over overdue fines

By Daniel Krut

If you’ve tried to take out a library book recently and were shocked to discover you have a fine, you are not alone.

In September the University of Calgary MacKimmie Library changed its policy on borrowing and fine regulations.

"I was pissed off [the change] wasn’t promoted," said fifth-year Psychology student Eric Charles. "I took a book out and the next thing I know I’m getting fined up the ass."

The library stands firm that they changed the loan policy to provide access to materials.

"We wanted to get away from the recall process," said MacKimmie Library Manager of Access Services Darlene Warren. "It is accomplishing our goal of having current materials available to students. For the whole process to be effective you must have a fine that is large enough for people to pay attention to. This is not about being a cash cow."

Undergraduate students can sign out regular loan materials for a two-week period. After the two weeks, if the book is not renewed, overdue fines are now $1 per day to a total of $15 per book. After the book has been overdue for 10 days the library assumes the book is lost and assesses the value of the book, adding $15 dollars per book to the overdue fine in the form of a processing fee. Once the book is returned the assessed value is removed from the borrower’s fine, but the $15 fine and the $15 assessment/processing fee must be paid. Graduate students and professors remain on the term loan system previously in place.

"I can see how it would affect some people," remarked undergraduate student Mike MacDonald. "Two weeks is a little short. One month would probably be more appropriate. If you have a big assignment coming up I can see how it could mess you up."

The new policy places the U of C library on par with other university libraries across Canada. The University of British Columbia allows a two-week loan period for undergraduates, with fines of $1 per day up to $30 per item. The University of Saskatchewan has three-week loan periods, with a fine of one dollar per day to a maximum $25 per item.

"I like it this way," said undergraduate student Agnes Vlaprzelski. "There have been many times I haven’t been able to find the books I need. Two weeks is fine."

Warren suggested students renew all borrowed books when signing out a new book in order to keep all due dates the same and avoid multiple books being due on multiple days. Renewals can be made at the sign-out desk and online.

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