Dundee University issues over £40,000 in library fines in one year

© DC Thomson
The university charged library users £41,779.76 for the late return of books in one year

Dundee University issued fines totalling more than £40,000 for overdue library books in one year, new figures have revealed.

In 2015/16, the university charged students and members of the public £41,779.76 for the late return of books from its campus facility, while it also charged £3266.94 for lost, damaged or stolen reading material.

The university stated the fines were a “typical amount” before a change in policy led to the abolition of fines for late returns.

Christine Backler assistant director (service delivery) at the university’s library & learning centre, said: “The drop in fines is due to a change in policy in October 2016.

“We abolished fines for the late return of books and implemented an automatic renewals system so now patrons can keep standard loan books (which is the majority of our stock) for up to one year without incurring any overdues or fines, as long as nobody else has requested the book.

“If somebody else places a request on a book which is out on loan, we notify the person who has the book that the loan period has been reduced, and advise them of the new due date.

“If they fail to return the item by the recalled date, they do start to accrue fines. This is to ensure the fair circulation of stock.”

Before the policy was changed, the university issued replacement charges for books which were not returned after three reminders had been sent, as well as fines for items which were returned, but which were late in being returned.

The maximum fine any one student can now receive is £15 resulting in last year’s fines dropping to the much lower figure of £6,268.50.

West End councillor Fraser Macpherson welcomed the change to a “fairer” policy.

He said: “Of course there has to be a method of ensuring library users return books for the benefit of other library users.

“However, any system of fines must be fair and proportionate so the implementation of the automatic renewals system is to be welcomed.”