Library should beef up fines

It seems the Founders Memorial Library is more like a bookstore with a delayed bill system.

NIU has enough bookstores. That’s why the library is supposed to be a source for students to be able to check out all kinds of books. Well, they can’t check books out if they’re never returned. And the library’s book return policy doesn’t help matters when it serves as nothing more than a wolf cry nobody listens to.

The policy allows students to check out books and keep them for as long as they like without paying a fine. A couple warnings are sent, but can be disregarded until the end of the semester. At that time, the student must return the book or pay for it along with any other fees owed to the university. If neither is done, students receive an encumbrance from the Bursar’s Office on their records or are not allowed to receive their diplomas.

In the meantime, books can be checked out for entire semesters and never returned, leaving other students who are in dire need of those specific books out of luck. Library official Elizabeth Titus does say certain books can be requested to be recalled from the checker-outer. But this simply means a notice is sent and probably shuffled aside—something even Titus admits occurs frequently.

This is definitely going to happen and it in no way is the library’s fault. But when books are continuously overdue and never returned, the library is useless to students.

The book return policies at other universities are much more stringent on students. At the University of Illinois, students are charged 30 cents a day for each overdue book maxing out at $5. After 39 days, students must return their books or pay for them along with the overdue fine. Illinois State University charges its students 25 cents a day and gives them only 30 days to return their books and pay the overdue fine.

These policies put a little more pressure on students to return their books—in other words, to act responsible, something they should learn in college anyway.

Maybe NIU’s library should take a look at the policies of these universities and follow in their footsteps before its shelves become as empty as Mother Hubbard’s cupboards, leaving NIU students starving to learn.