Library Survey 2016: borrowing & fines

Sidgwick Site book drop plus Issue Desk at DivLib (10/2016)And to more of your comments in last year’s Library Survey… This is about borrowing & fines, were we have managed to respond to quite a lot of requests (and: hopefully more changes to follow):


Longer loans for graduate students. 7 days was fine at undergraduate but as a research student, you require books for longer Div Fac PhD students and staff:

in Easter Term 2016 we increased the loan length for, and maximum numbers of books Div Fac PhD students can borrow. We also increased the number of items Div Fac staff can borrow. I hope that your comment pre-dates this change.


MPhil students:

We increased the number of loans and the length of loans for MPhil students in Michaelmas Term 2016.


Div Fac UGs:

We, finally, increased the number of loans for UG Divinity students (on 6 February 2017), but feel that the 7 days loans for UG students works well, as we need to circulate most books more quickly – there are not enough copies of certain books/for some papers for letting students take out books for longer. We have, however, in 2016-17 been monitoring the holds more, and have been trying to buy extra copies were available.


Re more books over the vacation periods:

Sadly, I’m not sure what your status is, but if you are a PhD student or staff, the increase in borrowing limits will hopefully be sufficient already. Could you please contact me if you are an UG or MPhil student, so that I can get an idea what number of books you were hoping for here?

Longer loan periods
Loan period
Longer borrowing times.
Higher borrowing limit
Extend the borrowing length. I visited the library when I first arrived and learned how short the borrowing time was. The UL was so much longer that I never came back to the Div library.
The ability to check more books out, PARTICULARLY OVER THE VACATION PERIODS.


No more fines and more notice before books are due back. Currently, I cannot see a system without any fines, as some library users are not inclined to return a book, even if someone else needs it. There are other options: blocking readers when 1 book becomes overdue, but that means that other books taken out by the same borrower (which are not requested by anyone else) cannot be renewed either, and to me it seems simpler to just have the “disciplining element” linked to the book needed, not the whole borrowing privileges of the borrower.


However, at the last Learning and Resource Committee of 2015-16, my proposal to reduce fines for overdue books (when no one else has requested it) has been approved, and came into force from 1 October 2016. However, for books which had been or are requested by another reader, the fines will go up. The LRC decided to raise the fines to £1, to help books being circulated more often amongst those who will need them.


Re more notice:

Currently, the notices are going out the morning before the book is due on the following day (6pm or 4.30pm, depending on whether it is a fixed due date – such as the final Wednesday in term time – or any other day). I’m not sure how much more notice you would want to receive. If you are talking about 7-day loans, our current system makes most sense to me.

Longer loans with recall. It is too easy to lose £5 each week by accidentally deleting an email, not having internet access… I have spoken to a couple of undergraduate students, and maybe I talked to the wrong students (not entirely representative sample), but a lot feel that 7 day-loans work well for the UGs, as anything longer makes it even less likely that a book in high demand for a specific paper in a specific week, will be needed any more by other people.


I am sorry that you are finding it hard to keep on top of your emails, and what you have borrowed where. There are two solutions I would suggestion, but both mean that you will need to be (in my eyes) even more disciplined:

1.       Check your library account once (or if you are really worried about overdue items twice) a week. For Divinity Library books: renew them early! You got 50 renewals, and it is unlikely that you will need all of them. If you are really annoyed about this, you could renew your books daily!

2.       You can always ring our phone (01223 763040 or 63040 from within the University’s phone system). We’ll check your account, and renew books as much as we can.

More leniency on fines, for example my college library only fines once the books are more than a week overdue, at which point you pay for the whole week’s worth of fines. We are not charging fines because we’d like to make money. We are charging fines, because I means that books are more likely to be returned in time. We will be lenient for any extenuating circumstances.


The proposal to reduce fines for overdue books which are not requested by someone else (see above) from 1 October 2016, is thought to reflect more the reasons why we fine, and also to reduce the fines most students have to pay. However, some students are not inclined to return books when others need them – believing that there needs are more important than the needs of others.


It sounds like your college library has built in a grace period. I don’t have a problem with this as such, I just have experienced this in two other libraries I have worked, and were we did this. What it meant was that some students always relied on the grace period, de facto lengthening the “normal” loan period, so not seeing this idea of a grace period as a helpful gesture when things might be a bit tight. However, we can trial this at DivLib – and you and others can show me that this won’t be the case then; show that despite a grace period most students will return books when needed by someone else, etc.

Again, I hope that some of the above is helpful, and that the many changes we have made will be seen as responding to what you said, and what we did.



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