15 April 2010

Changes to loans policy over vacation period: Feedback

Thank you for all your comments regarding the changes to loans policy over the vacation period.

It is true that the vacation is being treated the same as term-time, which means that fines will be charged on overdue loans that have not been renewed, and on any loans that are wanted by another reader and cannot therefore be renewed. Students who find that they cannot renew a book because it is wanted by another reader are advised to post the item back to the Library. This is responsible borrowing; it helps the widest possible circulation of resources; and it is the normal practice at a great many universities, including Birmingham University.

It is highly unusual for us to change an established way of doing things part-way through an academic year, however there was a lot wrong with the old system, which caused a good many problems at Christmas and resulted in unfair practices. In the light of this experience we decided to make changes now rather than wait until after the Sumer vacation.

Under the old system, students were able to borrow books for the whole vacation and incurred no fines, even when the books were wanted by other readers. It seemed to be unfair that some students could keep books – which they knew to be in demand - for several weeks without being fined accordingly. Moreover, many students, who did not realize that there would be no fines, asked staff what it would cost them to keep the book for a few weeks, knowing that they were depriving other readers. It is also the case that students who have a reservation to collect in the last week of term do not collect it until as late as possible so that they can have it for the whole vacation. This results in an in-demand book sitting on the reservation shelf for a week, unused by anybody. All these practices are counter to the sort of community spirit and sense of responsibility that should be fostered around shared – and scarce - resources. We therefore took the decision to change the parameters of the library management system so that all days when the Library is open are treated the same and only days when the campus is closed do not incur fines, giving us a much more equitable system.

If you have any further comments on this, please comment on this blog post.

1 comment:

  1. Comment received from a student: "The new circulation of books over vacation works well – fair and just approach to borrowing books! I’ve managed to work my vacation reading timetable around books I’ve reserved"