Maynooth University has moved to abolish library fines, marking the first time a higher education institution in Ireland has made the shift away from fines for late returns.
Fines for standard loan items, which may be borrowed from the library for three weeks, are to be abolished under Maynooth University’s new loan scheme. Fines are to only be charged on these items if they are recalled and assigned a revised return date. If the item remains unreturned on the revised due date, a fine will be charged at a rate of €1 per day.
Head of Academic Services at the Maynooth University Library, Lorna Dodd, explained that the move was taken to “support students” in using the library.
“From our experience, overdue books and outstanding fines often act as a barrier to students coming back to use the library and research has shown that students who use the library are more likely to be successful in their courses,” outlined Dodd. “We want to do all we can to support students in using the library effectively.”
“Students can now enjoy the library as a place of learning, information and communication without worrying about overdue fines,” Dodd continued.
Overdue items on a daily loan will continue to be fined at a rate of €2 per day.
Students and staff borrow between 85,000 and 90,000 items from the Maynooth University Library each year, with around 1 in 5 loans returned late.
Across Ireland, public library fines were abolished for all users last year in a plan to double library members, and existing fines were wiped from the system.
Last year, the Library of Trinity College Dublin (the Library) introduced an overhaul of its library borrowing system which saw staff and students allowed to borrow more books for longer periods of time when they are not requested by other readers. New mechanisms were also introduced to recall books which are in high demand more quickly.
Under the Library’s new scheme, penalties for unreturned items were updated in order to “work in tandem with the new rules to encourage the return of high-demand items”. The change allows for the return date on an item to change while it is on loan to the borrower if another reader requests the item.
Maynooth Library attracted attention in 2018 with the introduction of sleeping pods, which allow students to take 20 minutes naps in the library, with University College Cork (UCC) Library also installing a sleeping pod later in the year. Speaking to Trinity News last year, College Bursar Veronica Campbell confirmed she was “not aware” of any plans to purchase a sleeping pod for Trinity at that point in time.