Written by: Amal Javed Abdullah, Staff Writer
SFU libraries have ceased charging fines for overdue items from their general collection until they are recalled, and they have increased borrowing and renewal time for most books to a full term. These changes were put into effect in May 2018.
Formerly, all loaned library books were charged a fee of $1 for each day that they were overdue.
In an email interview with The Peak, Mark Christensen, head of SFU’s libraries’ Access Services, stated that the fine for overdue books created a financial barrier for students and faculty, which made the library less accessible and harder to use.
To “remove barriers and enhance student experiences at the library,” a fine-free system has been implemented, allowing students and faculty more time to use borrowed books. However, “when a book is recalled by another student or faculty member, it still has to come back,” Christensen wrote. “If you don’t return a book when it’s recalled, you can still get fines or penalties.”
Removal of fines from overdue books is not a new notion — academic libraries around British Columbia, such as Whistler Public Library and the libraries at Thompson Rivers University and Vancouver Island University, have implemented similar regulations. According to Christensen, “after ending fines in 2012/13, Vancouver Island University Library concluded that there was no significant effect on borrower returns or circulation rates.”
“The fine for overdue books created a financial barrier for students and faculty, which made the library less accessible and harder to use.” – Mark Christensen, head of SFU’s libraries’ Access Services
Overdue charges accrued on collections such as equipment, reserves, and media still apply as these items are in high demand, and need to be circulated among as many patrons as possible. Fines for these items begin as soon as the item is overdue, and an account with unpaid fines exceeding $10 will be suspended.
Fines exceeding $50 will block patrons from registering for courses, or receiving parchments or transcripts. Any fines incurred prior to May 2018 will still apply.