Policy lacks fines

By Kim Harris

Are you having trouble getting books from the Founders Memorial Library? Because of a several-year-old library book return policy, students are allowed to check out books with no overdue fine.

Although the return policy does not include fees, Elizabeth Titus, associate director of Information and Access Services at the library, said it has a very specific return policy.

According to Titus, students are allowed to check out books on a four-week loan. If the book is not returned shortly after the due date, the library begins sending out warning notices.

If after two warning notices the book still has not been returned, the library assumes the book has been lost and the student is sent a bill from the Bursar’s Office for the book.

“If they do not renew the book, they will be billed for it,” Titus said. “However, students are given the opportunity of unlimited renewal.”

Tom Vincere, NIU graduate student, said he feels the library offers no incentive for students to return books and the policy is inconsistent with what it is saying and then doing.

“The library issues cards saying that fines are accruing, but they are not,” Vincere said. “It is frustrating as a student to go to the library and not be able to get the material you need.”

According to Titus, students are given several options to retrieve books. Students can ask at the Reference Counter to see if any alternative information or sources are offered. If not, they may then request a recall on the book. A recall notice is sent to the student who has the book. However, Titus said students tend to ignore the notices.

Students also can have their name placed on a hold list so the library will hold the book when it is returned.

The library also offers the Inter-Library Loan System. Through the system, the library is able to contact the book needed from any other library throughout the United States.

“Most of the time, it is a time-line problem occurring with the student,” Titus said. “Everyone suddenly needs the same book at the same time and we can’t always have in what they need.”

Vincere said he feels the lack of books comes from irresponsibility by students because they cannot remember to return the book.

“I think that most of our students are responsible,” Titus said. “Most of them understand the time limit on the books and that other students are waiting for access.”

Titus also said by recalling books, the library is imposing on a student who obviously is using it.

The library checks out a half million sources and has about 900,000 sources that stay within the building. The money the library makes from lost library books goes into a fund to purchase new material.

Titus encourages students to contact the head of the department with complaints so that this type of situation can be handled at the right level.