A Fine Idea: CSN libraries do away with late fines

The CSN campus libraries have always been in the business of helping students, from providing much-needed research resources to hosting events that let students de-stress during finals. But as of July 1, 2015, the libraries have gone a step further in making sure that financially stretched students have one less thing to worry about. Late materials will no longer accrue overdue fines.

The reasoning for discontinuing late fines came about when discussing the fines’ effect on student success. If student success is the overall goal of the library and the college, they thought, why not remove the barriers within the library’s power to remove?

CSN Library Director Beth Schuck said that asking students to pay a dollar for a week late book seemed silly, especially when print books and materials don’t circulate as often as they may have in the past. With the rise of digital collections and changes in student checkout behavior, there’s less of a demand from other students to check out items that are already in use.

“E-books do not have late fees and/or due dates, and thus it creates a confusing model for some students. Many of our students don’t have any spare money to pay these fines, and the library doesn’t want to stand in the way of student’s retention or eating meals because they returned something to the library a few days late,” she continued.

Encouraging resource use and creating a positive connection with the library is also important to ensure that students do return again, persist in their classes, and ultimately make it through college successfully. With most of the support services on campus being offered for free, and other community college libraries already moving to this model, the change made sense.

CSN libraries will continue to bill students for lost items, items returned damaged, and significantly overdue materials in order to cover replacement costs. Schuck believes they will collect about one third of the money previously collected, since lost items constitute a higher dollar amount per transaction.

While the libraries are still spreading the word about this new policy during the first few weeks of classes, positive effects can already be seen. Students across the campuses have stated their appreciation that the library is truly thinking about their needs.