Steep library fines irritate students

Posted Dec. 8, 2006

Despite the fact that the fine was increased a year-and-a-half ago, University of La Verne Wilson Library’s overdue book fine – $1 per book, per day is still hard for some students to swallow.

For many years the fine was 25 cents per book, per day. It was changed after an analysis of other institutions found ULV’s fine was very low by comparison.

“The amount changed because it was too affordable; people would rather keep the book than pay the fine,” said Taylor Ruhl, University librarian. “The (old) fine was no longer a deterrent.”

In many university libraries, the fine is in place to encourage students to bring books back in a timely manner.

“We don’t change the fine for profit, we charge it so people will bring the books back,” Ruhl said.

The library does not rely on the fine to supplement its annual budget.

However, the profits made from student fines are used to purchase more books and research materials.

“Ultimately all we want is the book back,” said Erin Gratz, chairwoman of user services at the Wilson Library.

“It’s like what you charge to drive 90 mph on the 10 [Freeway],” Ruhl said.

The library offers a grace period of seven days after the books’ return deadline.

If the student has not returned or renewed the book, the fine begins at $7 on day eight and carries on from there.

The fine maxes out at $25 per book.

After 40 days, the book is placed on lost status. The student must then pay for the actu al book and processing charges for the library to repurchase the book.

However if the book is found the book purchasing charges are dropped.

The library will send out three e-mails informing students their books are overdue with the third sending billing information.

“I understand what it’s like being a student and not having the time go into the library,” Gratz said. “Students can access information on their books’ status online, they can also renew online or books can even be mailed in.”

The local public libraries by comparison charge a fraction of what La Verne charges for overdue books.

Ruhl and Gratz said public libraries and university libraries can’t be compared as they serve different purposes.

“Their reasons for existence are completely different,” Gratz said. “University libraries work to serve to students and their needs and public libraries serve much larger and diverse patrons. They are different beasts and are hard to compare, but it’s like comparing a public university and private university,” Gratz added.

Although the library has received complaints regarding the fine, they are nothing unusual for anytime of the year.

“(Fine) complaints are a standard part of the circulation desk,” Gratz said. “People just don’t like fines and that’s normal.”

She said that when she worked at a public library where the fine was just 5 cents she she still received complaints.

But on a college campus complaints are par for the course, particularly at the end of the semester when students are trying to register for their new classes, but are unable to because of holds placed on their accounts.

“I think in the last two weeks I have seen a lot of people because they are trying to register,” said Julia Bobadilla, senior psychology major and student worker at the Wilson Library. “It happens on the regular basis, I don’t think there is any day when someone doesn’t pay a fee.”

But there are still a number of students who do not find library fees alarming.

“They give us like a month so I think it’s fair,” said Donna Ibale, freshman biology major. “I always turn them in on time, I’ve never had a problem.”

Nicole Knight can be reached nknight@ulv.edu.

Laura Bucio can be reached lbucio@ulv.edu.

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