Gelman to forgive late fees for service

Gelman Library is offering to forgive late fees for students who complete at least eight hours of community service for first lady Michelle Obama’s service challenge.

Library officials launched the “Community Service for Fines” program last week, which gives students, staff and faculty the opportunity to reduce library fees in exchange for eight or more hours of community service.

Those who contribute at least the minimum hours before May 1 are eligible for a reduction in library fines of $10 for the initial eight hours and of $5 for each additional hour, said Barbra Tschida, the access services department head for Gelman Library.

“[The program will] encourage broad participation in Michelle Obama’s service challenge… [and] provide an incentive to reach, and possibly exceed, the 100,000-hour mark,” Tschida said.

To redeem hours served, students, staff and faculty must submit their hours to the GW Volunteer Match Web site and print a confirmation page, bringing the proof to Gelman’s circulation desk between March 13 and May 1.

Fines on library materials owned by Gelman, Eckles Library and the library on GW’s Virginia campus are eligible for fee reduction, Tschida said. Lost book fines or fines for consortium-owned materials will not be forgiven.

Zachary Elder, circulation desk unit manager, said that the circulation desk and library staff formulated the idea as a way to support the 100,000-hour challenge. Elder said the program has not been very popular yet, but he is hopeful the reduced fines will propel students to service.

There is no maximum dollar amount for how many fines can be reduced, but students, faculty and staff may submit the copy of their hours to the circulation desk only once.

“I think that’s a great idea. It’s innovative thinking. It’s a way of getting GW students into the community,” freshman Stuart Johnson said of the program.

Stuart does not have any library fees but said he would take advantage of the program if he did.

As of the end of spring break, GW had completed about 86,000 hours of community service, leaving about 14,000 hours to be completed in less than a month.

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