Fewer fines, longer loans beginning August 15

August 11, 2021

A few days late returning your library books? That’s fine. And now there’s no fine.

Beginning August 15, the University Libraries will eliminate standard daily overdue fines for most books.

“We don’t want a fear of accumulating fines to keep people from checking out the books they need,” said Joe Williams, the University Libraries’ director of public services. “For some people, including those who rely most on the Library, fines can be a real obstacle that stands between them and academic success, or even graduation.”

The new policy has some limits. Once a book is 35 days late, you will be billed for replacement; at that point, you will still need to pay a $10 fee even if you return the book. Overdue fines remain in place for multimedia items, such as videos and DVDs; reserve books and media; and anything that has been recalled because another person has asked to use it. In many cases, though, the Library has reduced the maximum fine you will be charged when these materials are late. Of course, if you never bring the item back, you will still have to pay a fee for its replacement.

Williams says that the University Libraries’ decision is part of a movement among academic libraries to increase equity by decreasing cost burdens, especially for students. Libraries including those at North Carolina State University, the University of Texas at Austin and members of the Washington (D.C.) Research Library Consortium have all made similar policy changes in recent years.

“We’ve seen that fines are not a very effective deterrent, except in discouraging people from borrowing books or from returning them at all. The staff time that goes into processing and collecting fines can better be used for other activities,” said Williams.

Alongside the reduction to most fines are several changes to borrowing policies. University staff and affiliates will be able to borrow books for six months instead of 30 days, and will receive up to six automatic renewals for eligible books. (University retirees who previously received unlimited renewals will now need to return their books after the six automatic renewals, however, and community borrowers will need to renew manually or online, as before.)

For more information, see the University Libraries’ full schedule of fines, fees and borrowing policies. Because certain exceptions apply, you should be sure to verify the due date when you check out an item. You can also log in to the online My Library service to check due dates and request extensions or contact the Library for assistance.

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