As students begin to pack up and head home for the summer, some may realize that the overdue library books piled up in their dorm rooms are going to cost them a pretty penny.
More than 2,400 people owe $25 or more in Gelman late fees, while 1,380 library customers owe at least $50 to GW’s main library, circulation department head Barbra Tschida said.
When students or faculty exceed the $25 limit, they are barred from checking out new materials until the fee is paid. If students’ late fees add up to more than $50, a hold is placed on their account, which can keep them from graduating, registering for classes and receiving a transcript.
“The purpose of late fees is to encourage people to get the materials back so that they are available to the GW community,” said Gayle Etschmaier, associate librarian for Public Services. “We charge late fees in order to secure availability of sources,” she said, adding that Gelman doesn’t use its late fees as a source of revenue.
But thanks to the creation of an online renewal system, students are now able to renew their overdue library books with a click of the mouse, saving them both time and money.
“A year ago we were not able to send e-mail notices before students’ books were due. Over the past few years late fees have decreased dramatically because students can now manage their accounts online,” Etschmaier said.
Despite this service, there are still those who have not yet mastered the ways of avoiding library late fees.
When freshman Abigail Aufgang checked out books from both Gelman and the library at George Mason University, she was only able to renew the GW books online; she never received an e-mail regarding the books from George Mason. Aufgang was later warned that she had accumulated a large fee for the George Mason books that she was never notified were late.
By lowering its late fees and holding charity events, Gelman is encouraging library patrons to return their overdue books. Two years ago the late fee rate was 50 cents per day; now, students are charged 25 cents. Last year the library held a canned goods drive that allowed students to return their overdue books without paying a fine if they donated food.
Etschmaier deemed last year’s end-of-the-year drive a “success,” with several students using their leftover GWorld money to purchase inexpensive canned goods in exchange for late charges. The Gelman staff has discussed plans to hold the event again in the near future.