Volume 95, Issue 58

Wednesday, January 16, 2002
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Three's company...

Gazette Investigation: A council in disarray

Library fines are like nose bleeds

Golden hippies still camping in principal's office

Repeat sexual offender kills himself

CASA kids launch "new" national campaign

News Briefs

Library fines are like nose bleeds

By Sarah Lasch
Gazette Staff

Several students are being caught off-guard by new Western library fine policies.

Last July, Western Libraries changed their loan period from 28 to 14 days and instituted a fine of 50 cents per day for overdue books, leaving some students with unexpected bills.

Chief librarian Joyce Garnett said the policy went through the University Library Council and noted the students on the committee came up with the idea.

"People were keeping books for a long time," Garnett said. "We needed a better deterrent for people keeping overdue books."

Garnett said the changes should not have come as a surprise to students.

"Students were consulted by the Senate, there were notices in the Western News announcing the changes and information was on the website for a long time," she said.

Complaints from students have not reached Garnett and she said that there has been a big improvement with people bringing their books back on time this year.

However, Lili Dang, a third-year English and film student, said she was caught unaware by the recent changes in library policy and was forced to pay library fines she did not anticipate.

"In the past, we weren't charged at all for overdue books," Dang said, who faced a fine of $6.50 for her overdue book. "I don't remember any campaign to inform us about the change. I'm just confused about the fines and I want to know what's going on. It seems very arbitrary."

Dang said she thinks fines are unfair because there are many financial burdens on students already. "I feel like I'm bleeding out of my nose here," she said.

Jane Watson, a fourth-year anthropology student, said she received $45 in fines for keeping library books over the holiday season.

Watson said she was not aware the lending period had been shortened to two weeks from four, but the fines were erased when she sent an e-mail to members of the library's administration and discussed the situation with staff at DB Weldon Library.

"This is the first holiday period since the code went into effect," said Jerry Mulcahy, director of the Business Library. "Circulation staff were typically sympathetic if the borrowers were able to offer a convincing explanation as to why they failed to return the books on time."

Western ombudsperson Frances Bauer said while she cannot comment on specific cases, in general, the library is not an area where there have been a lot complaints.

"The few complaints indicate to me that the library is clear and up front with their policies and that most problems, if any, seem to be resolved within their system before reaching [the ombuds] level."

–With files from Erin Conway-Smith

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Copyright The Gazette 2001