They plague the forgetful and the lazy.
Dishing out money to pay library fines is a humbling and painful burden.
While the figure behind the dollar sign usually isn’t high, it is cash that financially struggling college students wish they didn’t have to spend.
“We get a little bit under $20,000 each year (from library fees),” said Charla Lancaster, Director of Assessment and Library Access Services in Newman Library.
According to Lancaster, late fees from materials like books have decreased in the last couple of years due to longer loan periods for graduate students, faculty and staff. However, with the recent addition of loanable equipment like laptops, digital recorders and cameras, those late fees have boosted the figures closer to the original $20,000.
Tyler Walters, Dean of University Libraries, said that money from library fees is primarily used to replace lost items and purchase new ones — mostly books and other materials such as DVDs.
Recommendations for fee costs begin with Lancaster. “It’s sort of a joint effort,” she said. “I’m the director, so I make suggestions to the Dean and he approves or disapproves the cost.”
At Newman, books, CDs and audiocassettes accumulate fees of $0.25 per day while popular reading books, videos and DVDs figure in at $1.00. However, once patrons owe $20.00 of late fees, they are prohibited from checking out more materials until the fine is paid.
A local comparison to the Blacksburg Library on Miller Street shows that some fees are cheaper than Newman’s, but there is a much tighter accumulation limit than the campus library.
Most materials penalize $0.15 per day while DVDs and games ring in at $1.00 there as well. Checkout, however, is cut off at $10.00, half that of Newman’s.
While the inability to borrow books and movies may only be burdensome for an assignment or two, there could be worse consequences for unpaid fines. Charges are eventually sent to the Bursar’s office, so “You could, realistically, not get to sign up for classes next semester if you didn’t pay your bill,” Lancaster said.
97 percent of fines are paid with cash, according to Lancaster. In the last six months, the library created an online method of payment where students can use money on their Hokie Passports to pay their fines. Other options include check and money order, but credit and debit cards are not allowed.
The library has set up multiple means of avoiding those pesky charges. Many students are familiar with the email notices that are sent out prior to the due date and with the ability to renew items to buy more time. Students can set up courtesy notifications via email or text message through their My Library Account online. However, as Lancaster pointed out, sometimes sites crash and text messages get lost.
“We do have courtesy notices, but as it’s technology, it does go down on occasion,” she said. “Bear that in mind and don’t make that your sole source of reminding yourself that you have a library book that’s due.”
With technological and physical precautions available, there are many ways to avoid paying library fees.